Jason Atchley : Data Privacy : Spies, Patent Trolls and the Supremes

jason atchley

Tech Circuit: Spies & Trolls Edition

Will SCOTUS Revisit NSA? Are Universities Patent Trolls?

Monica Bay, Law Technology News

February 18, 2014    |0 Comments

nsa spy at computer console
Image: Clipart.com
The tension between privacy and security seems to be escalating by the minute. (It certainly was front-and-center at LegalTech New York.) Saturday, The New York Times reported that another top-secret document, obtained by former National Security Agency consultant Edward Snowden, “shows that an American law firm was monitored while representing a foreign government in trade disputes with the United States.”  
“The disclosure offers a rare glimpse of a specific instance in which Americans were ensnared by the eavesdroppers, and is of particular interest because lawyers in the United States with clients overseas have expressed growing concern that their confidential communications could be compromised by such surveillance,” wroteJames Risen and Laura Poitras. Speculation is that the affected firm is Chicago-based Mayer Brown, which represented the Indonesian government, they reported.
The development may have other ramifications, observed ALM’s LegalTimes. Marcia Coyle predicts that the developments “may provide new impetus for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit a 2013 decision that involved electronic surveillance law.”
“The justices, if they wish, have a vehicle for reconsidering their 5-4 decision in Clapper v. Amnesty International USA. The Center for Constitutional Rights last month filed a petition for review asking the high court to hear their challenge to surveillance by the NSA in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the extent of the surveillance program.” 
>> Patent Troll Alert: While we’re in paranoia mode, here’s something else to be worried about. Robin Feldman, a professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law, and W. Nicholson Price, an academic fellow at Harvard Law School, have released study results that suggest that despite conventional wisdom otherwise, the bio-pharmaceutical industry is not immune from patent trolls. Feldman calls the study a “warning bell.”
If you aren’t fluent in patent/academic jargon: patent trolls include non-practicing entities, patent assertion entities, and patent monetizers, says Feldman. Historically, according to Wikipedia, NPEs have been “generally not considered patent trolls,” and typically are “university research laboratories, development firms that offer their patented technologies to licensees in advance, and licensing agents that offer enforcement and negotiation services on behalf of patent owners.” But that benign view of NPEs may change with the new report.
Patent Trolling: Why Bio & Pharmaceuticals Are at Risk raises concerns about several developments, including the “Association of University Technology Managers revisiting its policy against selling to NPEs,” which could provide “an extensive pool of ammunition for NPEs to launch against current products,” explains Feldman.
The authors examined the life science holdings of five major universities. “We skimmed the patent holdings for four of the of five university systems with the highest number of patents issued in fiscal year 2011,” including the University of California and University of Texas systems, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the California Institute of Technology. “We added as a wild-card the University of Southern Florida, the school among the top 10 in 2011 patent grants which had the lowest ratio of license revenues to research expenditures,” Feldman said.
Life sciences trolling is “predictable, and in its infancy,” Feldman acknowledges, but “the study identified dozens of patents that could be deployed against current bio and pharm industries, following the patterns that NPEs have used against other industries. These include patents on drug formulas, methods of treatments, research methods, dosage forms, and others.”
>> Connecticut’s E-Discovery: Congratulations to Cindy Courtney, who is now “the newly-minted e-discovery lawyer at the Connecticut Attorney General’s office—a brand new position.” Her new title: “Assistant Attorney General,” she will provide e-disco support for the unit’s lawyers, as well as establish best practices, and provide training and education. Courtney previously worked for D4 in Hartford for almost for almost four years and was senior counsel at Cigna in Bloomfield for almost 18 years.
Monica Bay is editor-in-chief of Law Technology News and a member of the California bar. Twitter: @LTNMonicaBay @lawtechnews.

Read more: http://www.lawtechnologynews.com/id=1202643256492/Tech-Circuit%3A-Spies-%26-Trolls-Edition#ixzz2tgKnpMiJ

Posted by at 7:56 AM

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