Blog Post

Software is Still Patentable. Well, Sort of: Software Patents in a Post-Alice World

By: Anu Kinhal This summer, the Supreme Court decided Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank. The Court decided that although software can be patent eligible subject matter, Alice Corp.'s software was not claimed in a way that could be deemed patent eligible. This begs the question, how do you successfully claim software post-Alice?

Old School v. New School, Disney v. Deadmau5

By: Rachel Bangser At first blush, it doesn’t seem like the worlds of Mickey Mouse and electronic dance music (EDM) have a great deal in common. However, these two seemingly disparate entities have recently come into conflict regarding trademark dilution.

Lawsuit Filed Against Apple Amid Invasion Of Privacy Allegations

By: Justin McHugh

Earlier this month on July 11th, China’s Central Television (CCTV) reported on software in Apple iPhones that allows for users’ locations to be tracked.[1]  The state-run CCTV report warned iPhone users that Apple’s location-tracking software could be a potential security threat.[2]

After the report aired raising security issues concerning the location-tracking functions of the iPhone 4 and newer models, Chen Ma filed a lawsuit for invasion of privacy against Apple.[3]  Ma’s complaint alleged that “She was not asked for and thus has not given her consent, approval and permission nor was she even made aware that her detailed daily whereabouts would be tracked, recorded and transmitted to Apple database[s].”[4]  Ma also referenced the CCTV’s July 11th report in her complaint, stating that it was the report that brought the issue of Apple user location tracking to her attention.[5]  Ma’s complaint further states that “[a]ccording to information and belief, iPhone users are not given any meaningful choice enabling them to turn off the location service without substantially compromising [a] significant number of functionalities of iPhones.”[6]

After the CCTV’s report aired, Apple responded by stating that it does not actually track iPhone users’ locations.[7]  Apple further stated that its iPhone’s tracking capabilities are merely there to provide directions or to assist users in finding their current whereabouts.[8]  However, these comments seem to contradict other statements made by Apple where the company stressed that it will not disclose any information that they have collected on iPhone users’ daily whereabouts to any third party members.[9] 

This is not the first time that a lawsuit has been filed against Apple concerning data privacy issues.  In 2011, four iPhone users claimed that Apple had violated its own privacy policy by allowing for third party app developers to have access to users’ personal information and locations.[10]  The iPhone users stated that they were unaware that third party app developers could collect their personal information and alleged that Apple had specifically designed its software to allow for this to happen despite a privacy policy that claimed it would protect users.[11]  Additionally, the iPhone users alleged that their phones were transmitting their locations despite the fact that they had specifically turned that feature off on their phones.[12]  According to Apple, the reason that location information was still being sent was due to a “software bug” that was fixed when a new software update, iOS version 4.3.3, was released.[13]

Although Judge Lucy Koh recognized that there may have been harm done to the iPhone users, she stated that they had failed to show any evidence that they had relied on anything in the company’s policies before they bought their iPhones.[14]  In Judge Koh’s decision, she stated “[t]o survive a standing challenge at summary judgment, plaintiffs must be able to provide some evidence that they saw one or more of Apple’s alleged misrepresentations, that they actually relied on those misrepresentations, and that they were harmed thereby…In a case founded on the premise that Apple’s misrepresentations caused plaintiffs substantial harm, this evidentiary burden is far from unreasonable, yet plaintiffs have failed to meet it.”[15]  The case was more or less dismissed because the iPhone users had failed to read Apple’s privacy policy before buying their phones.

It remains to be seen whether or not Chen Ma’s lawsuit will be dismissed for similar reasons cited in the aforementioned 2011 lawsuit against Apple.  However, Ma is undeterred by this prior ruling and is currently seeking class certification for her lawsuit.[16]  Ma is seeking class certification for the roughly 100 million iPhone users who Ma says Apple has violated their privacy.[17]  Additionally, Ma is seeking an injunction that would prevent Apple from collecting and storing iPhone users’ private information without first giving them notice, and from sending their data to a third party without their prior permission.[18]  Along with the court ordered injunction, Ma is pursuing compensatory and punitive damages for Apple’s alleged invasion of iPhone users’ privacy.[19]

[1] Michael Kan, Apple face privacy suit following Chinese TV report, PCWorld (July 25, 2014, 12:00 AM),

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Juan Rodriquez, Apple Illegally Tracks Customer Location, Class Action Says, Law 360 (July 24, 2014, 1:59 PM),

[5] Id.

[6] Id.

[7] Rodriquez, supra note 4.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Brid-Aine Parnell, Apple dodges data privacy sueball: Fanbois didn’t RTFM, says judge, The Register (Nov. 28, 2013),

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Id.

[14] Parnell, supra note 10.

[15] Id.

[16] Rebekah Kearn, Class Claims Apple iPhones Invade Privacy and Pass Along the Info, Courthouse News Service (July 28, 2014),

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

United States Tries to Extend Jurisdiction over the Elusive Bitcoin

By: Justin McHugh  Mt. Gox, once known as the world’s largest trader of Bitcoins, has unexpectedly shutdown, devastating thousands. In the aftermath of the Mt. Gox shutdown, thousands of customers who traded on the exchange lost millions. In the face of losing millions, many Bitcoin traders are now calling for legal action and remedies from the Tokyo-based exchange firm.

Is Technology Advancing Too Fast for Legislative Comfort?

Technology is always evolving to make our lives easier. We merge complicated tech knowledge to gain access to the world in quicker, easier, and more convenient ways. While advancements in technology create excitement for our everyday lives, they also create setbacks when we try to integrate these new toys into normal tasks. One of the newest tech toys to be released is Google Glass, a piece of discrete technology that promises to transform our view of life and interactions.

It’s My Body and I’ll Die If I Want To!

We can say all we want about the newest, fastest, lightest: IPhone, IPad, Tablet, Google Glass etc… but the simplest technology is all too often overlooked and outshined by plastic electronics. Technology and science that are on the cutting edge of medical breakthroughs, space exploration, and entertainment take center stage in our capitalistic sales driven world. It’s ironic that we stand in awe waiting for such new advances and overlook technology that impacts (for better or worse) something that we will all one day face. Death is something that we do not want to think about or deal with until that time comes. Yes, estate planning is an area of the law that many engage in while they are perfectly healthy and viable, but that is centered on money and assets. Technology/medical practices now exist in which a person can elect to die when they so choose. The slippery slope comes into play here, because the technology exists, but so do laws. As of right now the laws governing physician-assisted suicide makes the prospect of choosing when to die a complex endeavor.

Is the Line Between “Blurred Lines” and “Got to Give It Up” Really That Blurry?

By Laura Fleming When Robin Thicke sang, “I hate these blurred lines” in his latest song, “Blurred Lines,” he probably wasn’t talking about the blurry line between his hit single and Marvin Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up.” Thicke released his song this past summer, while Gaye, now deceased, released his song in 1977. Gaye’s heirs are currently accusing Thicke, along with “Blurred Lines” co-writers Pharrell Williams and “T.I.” Clifford Harris Jr., of copyright infringement in a California court.

Large Databases of Customer Information are…a Target

By: Geoff Wills On December 19, 2013, Target Corporation confirmed that it was aware of unauthorized access to payment card data impacting any Target customer that made credit or debit card purchases in its U.S. stores. The data breach occurred between November 27, 2013 and December 15, 2013. Target’s press released acknowledged that approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts might have been impacted. As news broke and the issue was investigated, that number has now increased to 70 million customers, and includes online shoppers. The cyber attack on Target is the second-largest retail cyber attack in history, and has resulted in investigations by state prosecutors and Attorneys general. It has also resulted in numerous complaints filed across the country by individuals, all vying for the ever-elusive “class action” status.

Destruction of Federal Circuit Claim Construction

By: Erin Phillips On October 1, 2013 the Supreme Court granted certiorari in the patent case Highmark, Inc. v. Allcare Health Management Systems, Inc. to decide whether a district court’s exceptional-case finding to award attorney’s fees was entitled to deference by the Federal Circuit. Although on its face the implications of a judgment in favor of deference seem to reach only the most exceptional cases, the possible effects on patent claim construction are monumental. A decision in favor of deference could spark a major reduction in power for the Federal Circuit.