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US Supreme Court hearing arguments about software patentability

03/31, 1:09pm

Relatively minor suit could set the stage for patent law's future

For the first time in over three decades, the US Supreme Court is hearing significant arguments on whether "computer-implemented inventions," otherwise known as software, can be patented. The debate will center around what qualifies for a patent, centering on a debate about a computer system used to handle financial transactions, evaluating risks of default. Despite the suit itself being relatively small, the ruling will set precent for patent law for decades to come.

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US Supreme Court: Lexmark can be sued for bad DMCA claim

03/26, 2:03pm

Clone refill chip manufacturer allowed to seek redress for Lexmark actions

The Supreme Court of the US has ruled against Lexmark, allowing a company it filed a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) against erroneously to seek legal recompense. The unanimous ruling will allow chip manufacturer Static Control Components (SCC) to seek redress against Lexmark for tarnishing its business reputation, when Lexmark falsely induced consumers "to believe that [SCC] is engaged in illegal con­duct."

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US Supreme Court to rule on warrantless cellphone searches

01/18, 1:01pm

Hearing evaluating two cases with evidence gained at core of trials

Earlier this week, the US Supreme Court decided to hear a case regarding law enforcement officials being allowed to perform a warrantless search of contents of mobile phones held by arrested suspects, and use of the attendant evidence gathered in prosecution of other crimes. The court is evaluating two separate cases, each with an opposing view on the matter, but which have a common thread -- in both cases, evidence found on the smartphone searched without a warrant was key to the prosecution of the individual arrested.

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Supreme Court to consider limits on software patents

12/06, 2:49pm

Companies call for clarity from the court

The US Supreme Court has decided to hear a patent-infringement case that calls into question the validity of patent protection for certain software features. In the legal battle fought between Alice Corporation and CLS Bank International, in which the former alleges violation of a software patent related to financial transactions, lower courts have failed to reach a consensus regarding the technology's patent eligibility.

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Supreme Court declines to hear Amazon case over NY sales tax

12/02, 3:58pm

Decision effectively upholds existing law

The US Supreme Court has declined to hear a legal challenge against New York's sales-tax law for online purchases, according to a Reuters report. Retailers Amazon and Overstock had asked the court to determine if the tax regulations violate the Constitution, however the decision effectively upholds the New York Court of Appeals' March ruling that sided with the state.

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Apple among 60 major companies backing gay marriage

02/26, 7:58pm

Corporate amicus curae brief filed with Supreme Court

Apple is joining with at least 60 other large corporations in submitting a filing to the Supreme Court in support of extending marriage rights to gay people and against California's Proposition 8, continuing the iPhone maker's long record of supporting equal rights for homosexual couples. Other "friend of the court" filings are coming from diverse sources, including one that includes over 75 well-known Republican leaders -- including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, among others.

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Canadian Supreme Court expands consumer 'fair use' rights

07/13, 7:05pm

New ruling removes textbook copy fees, video game music tax

The Supreme Court of Canada issued a sweeping set of rulings in the five copyright cases it heard last December, including a case covering iTunes store song sample length. The court has affirmed that "fair dealing" ("fair use" in the US) must be interpreted on the side of the user, and not on the side of copyright holders, except in the case of extreme abuse of the fair dealing statute. In the same session, the court ruled that supplemental taxes applied on downloadable video games weren't a legal "communications" tariff.

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Supreme Court rejects file-sharer appeal over $675k fine

05/21, 5:19pm

Previously lowered then reinstated damages award upheld

The Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal against a $675,000 damages award to the RIAA and Sony in a file-sharing trial, reports Wired. Attorneys for Joel Tenenbaum, formerly a Boston college student, argued the defendant should be protected against "unrestrained discretionary jury damage awards against individual citizens for copyright infringement," but was denied by the court without further comment.

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Supreme Court says warrantless GPS tracking unconstitutional

01/23, 12:50pm

Supreme Court demands warrants on GPS searches

The US Supreme Court in a ruling (PDF) has decided that warrantless use of GPS to track suspects is illegal. A unanimous vote determined that attaching a GPS unit to a car or otherwise tracking suspects by GPS without consent would violate the Fourth Amendment's blocks against unreasonable search and seizure. Justices were split evenly as to why, arguing equally that attaching a tracking device by itself and the violations of privacy expectations were at fault.

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Appeals court overturns Verizon users' right to file lawsuit

08/25, 3:20pm

Customers forced to use arbitration for disputes

The Third US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled late Wednesday that Verizon Wireless customers must use arbitration to resolve disputes over alleged fraudulently made telephone calls rather than resort to class action. In ruling this way, the court reversed itself on a decision it had made last year in favor of the customers. The court cited a recent Supreme Court decision as the basis for its shift in attitude.

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Supreme Court rules video games protected as free speech

06/27, 10:40am

Supreme Court says games backed by 1st Amendment

The US Supreme Court determined in a ruling (below) that video games were protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. It struck down a California law that banned renting or selling games to those under 18. Judge Scalia and four supporting judges determined that games, like books, movies, and plays, get a message across through "fammiliar literary devices" and can't be censored solely because it contained violence.

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Government supports ruling against Microsoft in i4i case

03/21, 4:40pm

Solicitor General files amicus brief

Although the Supreme Court has yet to hear formal arguments in the patent infringement dispute between Microsoft and Canadian developer i4i, the government appears to be supporting earlier rulings against the Redmond-based software giant. Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal has filed an amicus brief that backs the lower court's decision.

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Supreme Court: AT&T has no privacy for government records

03/01, 6:25pm

Supreme Court overrules AT&T privacy rights

The Supreme Court has ruled on Tuesday that AT&T and other corporations will be required to disclose federal government records. The ruling was unanimous and overturned a ruling by a US appeals court in favor of AT&T, according to reports. The court agrees with the Obama administration's stance that personal privacy exemption under the Freedom of Information law applied to individuals and not corporations.

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Supreme Court rules online porn law unconstitutional

01/21, 3:55pm

Court Rebuffs Porn Law

The US Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by the Justice Department to uphold the Communications Decency Act. The law, first put into place in 1998, was intended to force adult-oriented sites to use logins or payment to prevent unintentionally exposing children to sexual material. The Supreme Court has ruled the law unconstitutional for violating free speech rights by dictating too broadly how site owners present their content.

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