CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

January 2013 Archives

Samsung Didn't Willfully Infringe Apple Patents, Judge Rules

Samsung had reason to celebrate this week after a federal judge declared that its infringement of Apple iPhone design and utility patents was not a willful scheme.

Still Samsung, the world’s largest device maker, still owes a mammoth fine for violating some Apple intellectual property. But it could have been much worse.

U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh ruled Tuesday that she predominantly agreed with the jury’s decision that Samsung infringed on seven of Apple’s design and utility patents. However, she disagreed with one finding — that Samsung “willfully” infringed on Apple’s patents.

This means is that Apple will not be able to triple its damage awards. If Koh had agreed with the jury on this decision, Apple could have collected up to as much as three times in damages from Samsung.

The trial between the two tech giants wrapped up in August after the jury awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages. However, the two sides have been slugging it out over a final judgment on damages.

NCAA Athletes Can Pursue TV Money, Fed. Judge Rules

A federal judge rejected a motion by the N.C.A.A. to preclude live broadcast revenues from a lawsuit by men's football and basketball players. The judge's ruling means college sports may end up owing a substantial sum of money if players win their class action lawsuit. Granted, that remains a big if at this stage.

U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken ruled Tuesday that the suit led by former U.C.L.A. basketball star Ed O'Bannon could proceed on its course as a class action suit and can be amended by the players to include live broadcast revenue.

The former and current NCAA athletes can now advance to the next round in a high-stakes battle that challenges the underpinnings of amateur sports and potentially puts billions of dollars of TV money on the line.

Sweeping Immigration Reform Pitched by Senate's 'Gang of Eight'

A far-reaching proposal to overhaul the nation’s “broken immigration system,” has been unveiled by a bipartisan group of senator’s called the “Gang of Eight.”

The detailed framework of principles was described as a way to resolve the plight of millions of undocumented immigrants living illegally in society’s shadows and to modernize and streamline the legal immigration system.

Now President Barack Obama is expected to lay out his principles for immigration reform in a speech in Las Vegas, Nevada on Tuesday.

It will include a potentially quicker path to citizenship than the bipartisan senator’s plan. But for now Obama will stop short of offering his own piece of legislation.

Indiana Can't Ban Sex Offenders From Facebook: 7th Cir.

Indiana can't ban all registered sex offenders off instant messaging services, chat rooms or social networking sites like Facebook, the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Indiana passed a law in 2008 that was aimed at keeping predators from trolling the Internet for new victims. But the law "broadly prohibits substantial protected speech rather than specifically targeting the evil of improper communications to minors," the three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit ruled.

State courts can impose limits on social media as a condition of a sex offender's probation or parole, but a "blanket ban" on Internet use violates the First Amendment's guarantee of free expression, the judges concluded.

DEA Free to Designate Pot Schedule I Drug, DC Circuit Rules

The DEA has long designated marijuana as a Schedule I drug, the Administrations’ most-restrictive category. It found that pot “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

Advocates of looser federal restrictions on marijuana suffered a major legal setback Tuesday, when a panel of three judges found that the federal government acted properly in refusing to loosen restrictions on pot.

Pro-marijuana groups and a disabled veteran who said it improves his medical condition argued the agency was ignoring a growing body of scientific evidence that it has some medical benefits. When the DEA refused, they sued.

But by a 2-1 vote, a panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the DEA did consider all the available information.

Vilma's Lawsuit vs. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Dismissed

A federal defamation suit by New Orleans Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was dismissed Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Helen Berrigan in New Orleans said Vilma failed to show that Goodell acted with “actual malice” in making six reportedly libelous or slanderous statements between early March and early May of last year.

These statements came after the NFL determined that some Saints players, coaches and officials were involved in a program that awarded cash to players for knocking opponents out of games between 2009 and 2011.

Vilma’s lawsuit was one of the last open issues arising from the team’s so-called bounty scandal.

NYPD 'Stop-and-Frisk' Policy Ruled Unconstitutional

A key part of the NYPD's controversial "stop and frisk" tactic has been ruled unconstitutional.

Federal Court Judge Shira Scheindlin ordered police to refrain from making some trespass stops outside private residential buildings -- even though the landlord has given officers permission to do so as part of the NYPD's "Clean Halls" program.

"While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings," Scheindlin wrote in a 157-page ruling.

A defendant who told police that the woman he awakened for sex likely mistook him for her boyfriend is not guilty of rape, a California appeals court ruled.

California's Second District Court of Appeal ruled sex by impersonation is not rape when the woman is unmarried. The court outlined the issue this way:

"A man enters the dark bedroom of an unmarried woman after seeing her boyfriend leave late at night, and has sexual intercourse with the woman while pretending to be the boyfriend. Has the man committed rape? Because of historical anomalies in the law and the statutory definition of rape, the answer is no."

BofA Agrees to $10B Fannie Mae Settlement Over Shoddy Mortgages

Bank of America has agreed to pay more than $10 billion to Fannie Mae to settle claims related to shoddy mortgages sold largely by Countrywide Financial during the subprime housing boom.

BofA, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, said it agreed to buy back $6.75 billion in residential mortgage loans sold to Fannie Mae and pay the housing finance giant an additional $3.6 billion in cash.

During the housing boom, banks sold investors bundles of mortgages that were shoddier than promised, according to lawsuits the federal government filed. Now, BofA is resolving the claims against it from Fannie Mae.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have said the lenders misrepresented the quality of the loans and have been trying to get lenders to pay up for bad loans.

The mortgages were sold to Fannie Mae from 2000 through 2008.