The iPhone X

By: Nicholas P. Fedorka

The internet is buzzing about Apple’s new release of its iPhone X, the latest version of Apple’s hottest product. Announced earlier this week, it’s thinner, faster, and has a better screen than the previous model, or at least that is what Apple is saying. Yet, Apple seems to follow a trend of reducing core features rather than advancing them. For instance, the new iPhone will no longer have two critical features: a headphone jack and TouchID. Everyone knew that the headphone jack was on borrowed time, especially with apples Bluetooth earbuds being such a hot hit. But, it will be interesting to see how consumers adapt to the new facial recognition feature. It will be doubly interesting to see the legal ramifications that come from this new feature.

Cites:

Matt Burns, I don’t want the iPhone X and I can’t be alone TechCrunch, https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/13/i-dont-want-the-new-iphone-x-and-i-cant-be-alone/.

The iPhone X’s Controversial New Feature

By: Melissa Goldstein

In honor of the iPhone’s tenth anniversary, Apple will be releasing the iPhone X. One of its new features, known as FaceID or facial recognition, allows users to unlock their phones just by staring into the camera. The iPhone creates a 3D map of a person’s face by using sensors, the front camera, and a dot projector. Every time people use their face to open their phone, 30,000 infrared dots are projected onto their face. The map of the user’s face becomes more and more detailed with every use.

Three-dimensional facial recognition sounds very high tech and exciting, but it is sparking some controversy in the legal world. Law enforcement is concerned that FaceID will make it harder for them to collect important data in crime investigations. On the other side, some consumers are concerned that law enforcement will use this feature to take advantage of a citizen’s Fifth Amendment rights.

An article in Washington’s Top News discusses that investigators in Maryland’s digital forensic labs are already bogged down and backed up with all of the evidence they have to sort through on iPhones. Law enforcement is concerned that the facial recognition technology could impose a delay on unlocking an iPhone in the first place. The iPhone’s older models, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7, are already nearly impossible to crack. Essentially, there is a big concern that the longer it takes to unlock an iPhone, the longer it could take to catch dangerous criminals.

On the flip side, consumers have their own worries that facial recognition could lead to law enforcement taking advantage of them. A law professor at the University of Oregon, Carrie Leonetti, says that FaceID and the current TouchID have less of a constitutional protection than older methods. When the only method of security was a four-digit passcode a person could rely on his or her Fifth Amendment privilege and simply not say the passcode. However, Jim Dempsey, ?executive director at UC Berkeley’s Center for Law & Technology, believes that police officers will still need a search warrant to make an iPhone owner unlock the phone using the FaceID feature. In 2014 the Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to search cellphones without a warrant. Dempsey believes that this ruling from Riley v. California will also apply to the FaceID feature.

Apple’s FaceID technology does however include ways to prevent the phone owners face from unlocking the phone. When pressing the power button five times in a row, the phone will go into “SOS mode” and FaceID will be disabled. Also, the facial recognition will only unlock the phone if the user’s eyes are open and staring into the camera. It will be interesting to see how this new feature affects the legal world once the new iPhone is released in November.

Rubik’s Cube: The Battle for America’s Classic Toy

By: Elle Nanstein

In 1974, Erno Rubik, a Professor of Architecture in Budapest, Hungary, created a six-sided, colorfully decorated cube puzzle in an effort to provide new and exciting ways to present information to his students. Though it took over a month for Erno to work out the solution to his puzzle, he was able to use the Cube’s first model to explain the science behind spatial relationships. As its creator, Erno envisioned the Cube as “an object of art, a mobile sculpture symbolizing stark contrasts of the human condition: bewildering problems and triumphant intelligence; simplicity and complexity; stability and dynamism; order and chaos.”

After presenting his prototype to his students and friends, Erno began to realize the potential of his Cube and sought to begin the manufacturing and distribution process under the name “Magic Cube.” Due to Hungary’s involvement in the Communist regime, Erno knew that the only way for the Cube to obtain worldwide recognition was to get his invention out of the country. This was accomplished partly by a Hungarian entrepreneur who took the cube to the Nuremberg Toy Fair in 1979, where Tom Kremer, a toy specialist for Ideal Toy Company, agreed to sell it to the rest of the world. However, Ideal Toy’s executives thought that the designation “Magic Cube” had overtones of witchcraft and decided to rebrand the product, eventually settling on the iconic name, “Rubik’s Cube.”

Since its launch in 1980, an estimated 350 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold and it is approximated that one in seven people alive have played with a Rubik’s Cube. According to its official website, “the beauty of the Rubik’s Cube is that when you look at a scrambled one, you know exactly what you need to do without instruction. Yet without instruction it is almost impossible to solve, making it one of the most infuriating and engaging inventions ever conceived.”

Unfortunately, the international success of the Rubik’s Cube has put the product at risk for trademark infringement. On August 28, 2017, Rubik’s Brand Limited filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan against Duncan Toys Co., its parent company Flaumbeau, Inc., and the retailer Toys “R” Us in an effort to halt sales of Duncan’s “Quick  Cube,” an alleged knockoff (pictured left). According to the complaint, Duncan’s cube “mimics the features and overall appearance” of the Rubik’s Cube, mainly differing in its colors and “slight rounding” of the corners. The company is also seeking to hold Toys “R” Us liable for selling Duncan’s cubes.

Rubik’s Brand Limited asserts that “as a result of Defendants’ use of a spurious version of Plaintiff’s federally registered Rubik’s Design Mark, consumers who expect to receive Plaintiff’s Rubik’s Cube puzzle, for which Plaintiff has developed a national and international reputation, will be disappointed when using Defendants’ imitation twist puzzle cube. This will cause irreparable harm to Plaintiff’s reputation and the goodwill which is symbolized by the Rubik’s Design Mark.” Rubik’s Brand Limited hopes to recover alleged illegal profits and triple damages, and seeks an order permitting the destruction of the unauthorized cubes. Whether the company will be able to maintain exclusive rights to the cubed puzzle remains uncertain at this time.

Cites:

The History of the Rubik’s Cube, Rubiks.com, https://www.rubiks.com/about/the-history-of-the-rubiks-cube (last visited Sept. 4, 2017).

Complaint, Rubik’s Brand Ltd. v. Flambeau, Inc., Duncan Toys Co., Toys “R” Us, Inc., WL 3724670 (S.D.N.Y. 2017) (No. 1:17-cv-06559).

New Rubik’s 3×3 Cube, Rubiks.com, https://www.rubiks.com/store/cubes/new-rubiks-3×3-cube (last visited Sept. 4, 2017).

Quick Cube 3×3, Yo-Yo.com, https://www.yo-yo.com/Quick-Cubes/Quick-Cube-3-x-3-3901QC (last visited Sept. 4, 2017).

Vengeance of Nokia, It is Back!

Xiang Qi

Nokia has acquired the exclusive rights to market phones under the storied Nokia brand and plans to announce four phones at the Mobile World Congress, which is set off on Feb. 26 in Barcelona, Spain. Besides the reboot of the classic 3310, the company also plans to release the Nokia 5 and Nokia 4 which are prices at 199 euros and 149 euros respectively.

The reboot of some of the company’s most classic series have been exciting for Nokia fans since Nokia’s acquisition by Microsoft. Even though the sales number of the Nokia phones have been on the decline for this decade, the quality and the brand of the phone warrants good, old phones every time Nokia is on the market.

Samsung’s Heir’s Arrest Clouds the Company’s Future

Xiang Qi

Samsung’s de facto chairman, now vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong was arrested on Friday in South Korea on account of bribery, embezzlement and perjury as a part of an investigation into a confidante of the President Park Geun-hye. In South Korea’s chaebol culture, the chairman must endorse or make corporate decisions. So the arrest of Mr. Lee is far more serious since Mr. Lee has been Samsung’s de facto leader after his father suffered a heart attack in 2014.

For decades, chaebols like Samsung, LG and Lotte had been fueling the country’s economy, with 10 largest Chaebols’ revenues exceeding 80 percent of South Korea’s GDP. On the other hand, the opposition lawmaker is calling for more harsh and transparent attitude toward large companies, addressing the tendency among law enforcement agencies to treat major Chaebols with kid gloves. Even though the public anger towards Chaebols have been on the rise over the years, it is pessimistic that Korean government will set an example with Mr. Lee because the country deeply relies on these Chaebols to grow its economy.

By the Corporations, For the Corporations: Scott Pruitt Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide

Emma Fusco

The new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, and made one of his first formal actions as the nation’s top environmental official this past Wednesday.  About a decade ago, two environmental groups asked the agency to ban all uses of an insecticide called clorphyrifos.  

After being banned in 200 for household use, it’s still used today on about 40,000 farms on crops ranging from almonds to apples.  Based off of research conducted at Columbia University, the E.P.A. has concluded that exposure to chlorpyrifos potentially causes learning and memory declines, particularly among farm workers and young children who are exposed to the chemical through drinking water and other sources.

Dow chemical however, argues that the science demonstrating that the chemical is harmful is inconclusive.  Mr. Pruitt insists that the agency needs to study the science more in order to understand whether or not the correlation is in fact causation.  

The move was immediately condemned by environmental groups, claiming that the Trump administration cares more about major corporations than the health and safety of families nationwide.  To further this point, Jim Jones, who ran the chemical safety unit at the E.P.A. for five years spending more than 20 years working there, says that “[t]hey are ignoring the science that is pretty solid.” This rejection is considered a “final agency action” suggesting that the matter would not likely be revisited until 2022, the next time the E.P.A. is formally acquired to re-evaluate the safety of the pesticide.
The agency is now under fire by environmental groups who intend to return back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco to ask judges to order the agency to ban the use of this pesticide.

See Eric Lipton, E.P.A. Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide, N.Y. Times (Mar. 29, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/29/us/politics/epa-insecticide-chlorpyrifos.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fscience&action=click&contentCollection=science&region=rank&module=package&version=highlights&contentPlacement=7&pgtype=sectionfront.

Snap Aims for Valuation of More Than $20 Billion IPO

Xiang Qi

The company, Snap Inc., disclosed on Thursday that it expected to be valued at as much as $22.2 billion in the sale. Snap would be worth $20.9 billion at the midpoint of the offering’s range of $14 to $16 per share. The final pricing of the new shares as well as the company’s valuation could still change as it is expected begin trading around March 2 on the NYSE.

The road show before IPO began this Thursday as three of Snap’s top executives, Evan Spiegel, Imran Khan and Andrew Vollero, joined its underwriters to pitch investors on the most highly anticipated IPO so far this year. From its beginning in a Stanford dorm room six years ago, Snapchat has become the brightest star in the technology world.

Laches Defense in Patent Cases

Justin Farooq

The United States Supreme Court ruled last week that patent owners may not use the doctrine of laches, meaning that they may not assert that defendants slept too long on their rights as a defense to lawsuits filed within the Patent Act’s six-year statute of limitations.[1]  The high court stated that allowing defendants to use laches would undermine Congressional intent by incorporating a six-year statute of limitations in the Patent Act.[2]  In a previous case involving copyright laches, the Supreme Court said laches does not apply to copyright cases because copyright law and that the opinion expressly said it wasn’t deciding whether the same would be true in patent law.[3]  

The change is expected to be significant to patent litigators, who may discover their clients keen on pursuing more lawsuits that might previously have been impossible.[4]  Additionally, patent holders should no longer need to obsessively guard their works on a continuous basis merely for fear of being subject to a laches bar if they first confirm infringement or otherwise wish to assert infringement more than six years after becoming aware of a defendant’s fraudulent activities.[5]

 

[1] Lorelei Laird, Supreme Court Rules Patent Holders May Not Bar Otherwise Timely Lawsuits With Laches, ABA J. (Mar. 21, 2017, 3:15 PM), http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/supreme_court_rules_patent_holders_may_not_bar_otherwise_timely_lawsuits_wi.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Brad M. Scheller & Harold S. Laidlaw, Supreme Court Shuts the Door on Patent Laches, The Nat. L. R. (Mar. 21, 2017), http://www.natlawreview.com/article/supreme-court-shuts-door-patent-laches.

Protection of Trademarks: The Overprotective Parents

Annie Millar

Part of protecting a trademark involves monitoring potential infringing trademarks on the market, which often involves attorneys drafting cease and desist letters. On occasion, these trademark holders go above and beyond, sending aggressive letters in an attempt to protect a trademark. The result is comedic stories that are passed along the internet.

Back on April Fool’s Day in 2010, the parody website ThinkGeek launched a fake product, boasting a canned unicorn meat. ThinkGeek used the tagline, “Pate is passe. Unicorn, the new white meat.” The National Pork Board, who owns the trademark for “the other white meat” did not seem to catch on to the joke, sending a 12 page cease and decist letter. In response ThinkGeek apologized noting, “In fact, ThinkGeek’s canned unicorn meat is sparkly, a bit red, and not approved by any government entity.”

In St. Louis a local brewery used Starbuck’s term Frappucino to describe one of the brews being offered. In a letter Starbucks demanded the brewery stop using the name for their beer, stating they feared there would be consumer confusion. The brewery responded in a comical way, sending Starbucks the six dollars it made on the sale of the brew, noting that us small businesses need to stick together.

The takeaway? Sometimes being overburdensome and aggressive is not the best market approach.

See Chris Schwegmann, Laughable Moments: When Trademark Holders are Overprotective, IP Watchdog (Mar. 5, 2017), http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2017/03/05/laughable-moments-trademark-holders-overprotective/id=79061/.

Scientists are Making Headway in the Treatment of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Cecilia Santostefano

Nilotinib was created to treat one of the dozens of types of leukemia, but doctors are hopeful that it will slow down the progression of two diseases of the brain.[1] Currently, there is no treatment that can delay or stop the neurodegenerative diseases known as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[2]

The term “neurodegeneration” refers to the progressive damage of brain cells, which results in functional impairments.[3] In 2015, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center initiated a preliminary study in which they administered a small dose of nilotinib to patients with Parkinson’s disease as well as dementia.[4] This drug prompts cells to eliminate faulty parts, including the components that are associated with many brain diseases.[5] By eliminating these components, the director of the Georgetown program, Fernando Pagan, says he may be able to stop the advancement of these types of diseases. Following what appeared to be success in the preliminary trial, Georgetown planned to launch larger clinical trials for individuals with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.[6] The studies are currently enrolling patients and will be completed within the next couple of years.[7]

 

[1] Jon Hamilton, Cancer Drug That Might Slow Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s Headed For Bigger Tests, NPR, (Mar. 15, 2017), http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/03/15/520170960/cancer-drug-that-might-slow-parkinson-s-alzheimer-s-headed-for-bigger-tests.

[2] Id.

[3] Sally Robertson, What is Neurodegeneration? News Medical, (Jan. 21, 2015), http://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Neurodegeneration.aspx.

[4] Hamilton, supra note 1.

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Id.