Technologist: March 2010 Archives
Technologist - The FindLaw Legal Technology Blog

March 2010 Archives

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

If you feel like you have been hearing quite a bit about data breaches in colleges and universities, there is a reason.  Institutions from the educational sector reported more breaches than any other sector for the recent period of September 2008 to March 2009, according to the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Indeed, colleges and universities reported four times the number of breaches than the institutions within the health care sector; the sector that reported the second most data security breaches. 

It certainly is laudable that educational institutions seem to take their data security breach notification responsibilities seriously, but it is imperative that they learn to avoid so many breaches in the first place. This is especially true given that colleges and universities collect personal and highly sensitive data not only from students, but also from faculty, personnel, applicants, alumni, business partners and others. This information often includes private financial, health, academic, demographic and other details.

Many of the data security incidents of educational institutions result from the loss or theft of equipment and errors leading to unauthorized access. Steps can and should be taken to safeguard equipment and access. 

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Electronic discovery and evidence are becoming the real game in town when it comes to discovery in civil cases.  Indeed, according to a recent study, e-discovery law is developing in jurisdictions across the country, and 2009 saw twice as many judicial opinions issued on e-discovery issues than 2008. 

And of potential concern to counsel and clients, practically half of these e-discovery opinions addressed sanctions, with sanctions being levied in 70% of those cases.  Obviously, it is imperative that clients have their e-discovery houses in order; and that they retain counsel who are knowledgeable, skilled and proactive in this fast-developing and important area of the law.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

Notwithstanding years of criticism of the breadth of Amazon's 1-Click patent (which allows for online purchases with a single mouse click), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) has just confirmed the patent upon reexamination.  In essence, the PTO found that "prior art" did not reveal any earlier single action ordering system or shopping cart model recited in Amazon's patent claims.

While Amazon's patent claims have been amended and somewhat narrowed over the years, there is a view that the modified patent still is quite broad.  Indeed, this patent confirmation could potentially trigger further calls for patent reform by those who feel that business method patents have gone too far.

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

In a recently issued press release, Rescuecom states, with respect to its long-running lawsuit against Google, that it "can finally declare victory in its effort to protect how its trademark 'Rescuecom' is treated on Google's search engine."  As a consequence, Rescuecom has dismissed its lawsuit.  But was this a true "victory" for Rescuecom?

Rescuecom claims that in early 2004, prior to going public, Google changed its trademark policy to allow anyone willing to spend the money to use the trademarks of others to trigger their own sponsored link advertisements and that Google began suggesting certain trademarks, including Rescuecom's mark, to prospective advertisers via its Keyword Suggestion Tool.  Rescuecom notes that during its litigation against Google, a federal appellate court rejected Google's argument that its "auction" of Rescuecom's mark to the highest bidder was not a trademark use of that mark.

What's Up With UK WiFi?

FindLaw columnist Eric Sinrod writes regularly in this section on legal developments surrounding technology and the internet.

In an earlier blog titled "Hotspots Can Be Black Holes of Hacking Danger," you were informed that three major UK WiFi networks were possibly susceptible to hacker attacks, making network users vulnerable to potential fraudulent activities. 

And now recent press reports indicate that the UK Digital Economy Bill will not exempt from copyright crackdowns on universities, libraries and small businesses that provide open UK WiFi services.  As a result, they could be subject to the same penalties (including Internet disconnection) for copyright infringement as individual subscribers who infringe on the copyrighted works of others. 

It appears that the WiFi skies are not so friendly across the pond.