In a landmark case hailed as “the biggest copyright decision in a generation,” the Supreme Court ruled that Google did not commit copyright infringement when it copied more than 11,000 lines of Oracle’s code in its operating system. Oracle was seeking up to $9 billion in damages. The decision of the high court culminates litigation that has dragged on for more than a decade. The court based its decision on the fair use doctrine, with Justices Thomas and Alito dissenting. The decision is a big win for tech companies that rely on interoperability of their products and underlying systems.
A lawsuit was recently filed alleging that Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, made “false and deceptive statements” when testifying to Congress about removal of content that violates hate speech rules. The suit alleges that Facebook failed to remove a large number of pages even after it was reported to Facebook that the pages contained anti-Muslim content. The suit also alleges that Facebook violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Act by making material misrepresentations about its goods and services.
An app company, ScatterLab, has been accused of collecting intimate conversations between lovers through an app called Science of Love, available on Google Play. The app purported to analyze an intimate conversation score the romantic feelings of the participant. The conversations were allegedly collected without user’s knowledge and were used to build a chatbot designed to be a friendly conversationalist. Matters became especially concerning when the chatbot began displaying abusive tendencies, and also began divulging personal information which it gleaned from its training data. This alarming incident highlights a danger in the field of AI where the use of big data and its associated privacy concerns are still very much uncharted territory.
A judge in California has ruled that Tesla can proceed with a lawsuit against rival electric vehicle company Rivian. Tesla accuses Rivian of hiring at least 178 former Tesla employees and obtaing trade secrets through them. Tesla has also brought misappropriation suits against seven of its former employees, and the judge declined to dismiss those claims as well.
In a lawsuit that began after Donald Trump blocked multiple people from his Twitter account in 2017, seven people including Columbia University’s Knight Institute sued Trump over the exclusions. A federal judge ruled against Trump in 2018, and the 2nd circuit subsequently upheld that ruling. Trump appealed to the Supreme Court, who recently decided that the dispute was moot because Trump is no longer President, and threw out the lower courts' finding of free speech violation. None of the justices dissented, but Justice Thomas wrote a separate opinion in which he called for the courts to regulate social media companies like Twitter.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are unique units of data on a blockchain that can be used to represent a digital item. Sales of NFTs are skyrocketing. In light of this new and complex way to monetize IP, IP owners need to be mindful to incorporate NFTs into their IP protection and licensing strategies.