TLPC Testifies at Copyright Office DMCA Section 1201 Hearings

Last week, the TLPC testified at several hearings (PDF) in favor of our proposed exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. We’ve linked below to various pictures and coverage of the hearing. Congratulations to the many TLPC students who took part!

TLPC Submits Proposal to USPTO to Discourage Frivolous Claims in Trademark Opposition Proceedings

On Tuesday, May 12, 2015, three TLPC student attorneys submitted a White Paper to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) detailing a proposal to discourage frivolous claims in trademark opposition proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). Current PTO rules can allow for entities known as “trademark bullies” to unfairly target new trademark applicants with aggressive litigation tactics that can cost, on average, around $80,000 to defend. For this project, the team partnered with our sister law clinics at American University and Suffolk University.

The team developed two proposals: a Second Look Review procedure and fee-shifting authority housed within the TTAB.

The Second Look Review procedure would allow trademark holders and other interested parties to request that the examining attorney who approved the trademark application take a “second look” at the application in light of evidence presented by the interested parties. If unsatisfied with the examining attorney’s determination, either party can then appeal directly to the TTAB.

The team’s second proposal is for Congress to implement a statutory fee-shifting mechanism for frivolous opposition suits before the TTAB. Current patent regulations allow for similar sanctions for parties who file frivolous patent oppositions in litigation, so the team proposes an analogous mechanism for trademark regulations. Because the PTO does not currently have the authority under the Lanham Act to incorporate fee-shifting procedures into TTAB proceedings, the team included an argument that the PTO or other parties might make to Congress to obtain an explicit grant of this authority.

The Second Look Review procedure, coupled with fee-shifting authority, could provide a balanced approach that eliminates incentives for companies or other entities to engage in frivolous and aggressive trademark opposition practices, while allowing incumbent trademark holders an easier avenue to defend potential threats to their trademarks. Furthermore, these proposals would help ensure that only legitimate oppositions from committed parties are admitted to the TTAB docket, which could increase overall efficiency within the PTO.

The student attorneys for this project were Austin Gaddis, Paul Garboczi, and Conor Stewartson.

The full text of the White Paper can be found here:

Discouraging Frivolous Claims in Trademark Opposition Proceedings: A Policy Proposal to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

TLPC Files FCC Petition for Rulemaking re: Spectrum Interference Dispute Resolution

This semester, TLPC student attorney Stephanie Vu and student technologist Stefan Tschimben continued their work from the previous semester on a petition for rulemaking at the FCC under Silicon Flatirons Fellow Pierre de Vries’ guidance and mentorship. During the fall semester, the students, along with student attorney Chris Laughlin, researched how the FCC currently resolved spectrum interference disputes and drafted a petition for rulemaking to improve the process by suggesting that the FCC allow parties to bring their cases directly to an Administrative Law Judge for adjudication. This semester, the students sought feedback from attorneys, technologists, and policymakers, which was addressed and incorporated into the petition, filed today at the Commission.

TLPC Completes 911 Accessibility Report for Colorado Public Utilities Commission

This semester, TLPC student attorneys Victoria Naifeh, Allison Daley, and Elizabeth Chance and student technologist Jeff Ward-Bailey worked with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission’s 911 task force  to research the legal landscape surrounding 911 accessibility for the deaf, deaf-blind, hard of hearing, and speech disabled communities in Colorado.  The final project, a white paper summarizing the research, is now available here and on the the Social Sciences Research Network:

TLPC Files Security Research DMCA Exemption Reply Comments

(by Chelsea E.  Brooks,  Student Attorney, Joseph N. de Raismes, Student Attorney, Andy J. Sayler, Student Technologist)

Today, we filed a Reply Comment in response to public comments on our  Long Comment for Class 25 (Security Research) on behalf of our client Professor Matthew Green.  The proceeding (and objectors’ comments) can be found at the Copyright Office’s DMCA Section 1201 Tri-annual Exemption Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

As we discussed in our previous blog post on the subject, this project seeks an exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions for good-faith security research.  Our Reply Comment responds to a variety of issued raised in the second round of the proceeding by public commenters including manufacturers and trade groups in automobile, medical device, software, and related industries. In our Reply Comment, we focus on how objectors comments are textbook examples of the adverse effects of Section 1201 chilling good-faith security research, and push back against the suggestion that an exemption should include a mandatory disclosure standard.

Next up in the proceeding is a hearing on May 26, 2015 In Washington, DC where student technologist Andy Sayler will be a witness along with the clinic director, Blake Reid, and our client, Professor Matthew Green.

TLPC Briefs Copyright Office with Reply Comments on E-book Accessibility DMCA Exemption

Today, the TLPC, the American Foundation for the Blind, the American Council of the Blind, the Library Copyright Alliance, and the American Association of People with Disabilities filed reply comments at the U.S. Copyright Office requesting a renewal of the exemption to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act aimed at  making e-books more accessible to people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled and authorized entities. If renewed, the exemption would increase access to literary works and educational resources for people who are blind, visually impaired, or print disabled.

Take a look at the long-form comment attached here, and stay tuned for the Copyright Office’s decision later this year.

E-book Accessibility Reply Comments

Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 14: Piracy and File Leakage in the Digital Age

(by Conor Stewartson, TLPC Student Attorney)

As spring approaches, millions of fans of Game of Thrones, HBO’s most successful television program, become anxious with anticipation for yet another season of the television adaptation of the critically acclaimed book series.  Season 5 of GoT was scheduled for simultaneous release on April 12th in 170 countries across the globe in order to decrease the historically high piracy rates that the show experiences.

The efforts by HBO were made at least partially moot on Saturday when the first four episodes of the season were leaked online.  Over 1.7 million copies of these episodes were downloaded in less than 24 hours.  The leaked episodes appear to have come from review copies sent to the press, which contained a blurred watermark and were only available in standard definition.

The timing could not have been worse for HBO, which recently rolled out its new “HBO Now” service that allows for viewers to pay a monthly rate ($14.99) in return for standalone HBO service that does not require a cable subscription.  In the past, obtaining an HBO subscription may have been impossible for viewers that lacked standard cable service—a difficulty that may have been a driving force behind the proliferation of online piracy of GoT.

[Editor’s note: we’ll be (mostly) offline over the summer break. See you in the fall!]

The TLPC Goes to DC

(by Chelsea Brooks, Student Attorney)

From March 22-25, students from the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic visited DC to meet with a variety of policymakers to discuss their projects. The TLPC teams are working on accessibility to 911, exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act,  spectrum interference dispute resolution, and addressing trademark opposition policy. The students visited law firms, a variety of administrative agencies, public interest organizations, and Congress, and even delivered a guest lecture at Gallaudet University.

TLPC Student Attorneys Left to Right: Victoria Naifeh, Allison Daley, Conor Stewartson

TLPC Student Attorneys Left to Right: Victoria Naifeh, Allison Daley, Conor Stewartson

TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students
TLPC Students


Last Week in Tech Law and Policy, Vol. 13: Digital Technologies and Innovation in the Distribution of Music

Last week, rapper and business mogul Jay Z reintroduced Tidal in a press conference highlighting the platform as an artist-owned, subscription-based music service. The service boasts a movement to “change the status quo” and “reestablish the value of music.” Tidal values music at $19.99 per month for high fidelity (lossless/CD-Quality) streaming, or $9.99 per month—comparable to other music streaming services like Spotify.

The re-emergence of Tidal as a music streaming service owned by artists themselves in order to procure greater profits for their music begs the question: how are artists doing now?

This infographic from data journalist and information designer David McCandless shows how many plays from each music service an artist needs to earn a monthly minimum wage of $1,260.

As we previously discussed, digital technologies have changed the way consumers receive all entertainment content. Some argue that the rise of music piracy and peer-to-peer sharing in the digital age have impacted profits, but the migration to streaming services may also have a countervailing impact on piracy.

Spotify claims that their free model shifts consumers away from piracy to a platform they can simply listen to music for free, and then drives them to the paid subscription ($120 per year), doubling the amount these average consumers spend on music (supposedly, $55 per year), and generating more royalties for the artists. Some artists, notably Taylor Swift, have qualms with the free tier service Spotify provides.