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Submission + - Court Rules The "Google" Trademark Isn't Generic

ericgoldman writes: Even though "googling" and "Google it" are now common phrases, a federal court ruled that the "Google" trademark is still a valid trademark instead of a generic term (unlike former trademarks such as escalator, aspirin or yo-yo). The court distinguished between consumers using Google as a verb (such as "google it"), which didn't automatically make the term generic, and consumers using Google to describe one player in the market, which 90%+ of consumers still do.

Submission + - California Tells Businesses: Stop Trying To Ban Consumer Reviews (

ericgoldman writes: Some businesses are so paranoid about negative consumer reviews that they have contractually banned their customers from writing reviews or imposed fines on consumers who bash them. California has told businesses to stop it. AB 2365--signed by Governor Brown yesterday, and the first law of its kind in the nation--says any contract provisions restricting consumer reviews are void, and simply including an anti-review clause in the contract can trigger penalties of $2,500.

Submission + - Sex Offender Gets New Hearing After Hearing Officer Rants Against Arial Font (

ericgoldman writes: People often feel passionately about fonts, but government decisions shouldn't depend on what font people choose for their written submissions. In Massachusetts, a sex offender overturned the decision of a hearing officer after it was determined that (among other possible biases) the hearing officer posted to Facebook that he “can’t trust someone who drafts a letter in arial font!” and “I might be biased. I think arial is inappropriate for most things." This is just the latest example of how social media rants by government workers are causing problems for the workers--and the people they deal with.

Submission + - Withhold Passwords From Your Employer, Go to Jail? (

ericgoldman writes: Terry Childs was a network engineer in San Francisco, and he was the only employee with passwords to the network. After he was fired, he withheld the passwords from his former employer, preventing his employer from controlling its own network. Recently, a California appeals court upheld his conviction for violating California's computer crime law, including a 4 year jail sentence and $1.5 million of restitution. The ruling provides a good cautionary tale for anyone who thinks they can gain leverage over their employer or increase job security by controlling key passwords.

Submission + - Las Vegas Newspaper Funds a Copyright Troll? (

ericgoldman writes: Sherman Frederick, publisher of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, wrote a blog post declaring "Copyright theft: We're not taking it anymore." Apparently upset that third party websites are republishing its stories in full, the newspaper "grubstaked and contracted with a company called Righthaven...a local technology company whose only job is to protect copyrighted content." Righthaven has brought "about 22" lawsuits on behalf of the newspaper, including lawsuits against marijuana- and gambling-related websites. Frederick hopes "if Righthaven shows continued success, that it will find other clients looking for a solution to the theft of copyrighted material" and ends his "editorial" (or is it an ad?) inviting other newspapers to become Righthaven customers. Wendy Davis of MediaPost deconstructs some of Frederick's logic gaps.
The Courts

Submission + - Nursing Student/Blogger Expulsion Overturned (

Eric Goldman writes: "Nina Yoder is a nursing student at University of Louisville. In March, she was expelled from her nursing program due to her blog post (PDF) to MySpace discussing her observations of a mom giving birth. Last week, a federal judge reinstated Yoder. Although the judge described the blog post as "vulgar," "distasteful," "offensive," "crass and uncouth," and an "abject failure" as an attempt at humor, he held that it did not violate patient confidentiality or the school's honor code requiring "professionalism.""
The Courts

Submission + - Class Action Trademark Lawsuit Against Google (

Eric Goldman writes: "Plaintiffs' lawyers in Marshall, Texas (a well-known hotspot for patent litigation) have brought a trademark infringement lawsuit (PDF) against Google over Google AdWords on behalf of all Texas trademark owners. This class action lawsuit represents a major frontal assault against Google's main source of revenue. However, as this post explains, Google might view this lawsuit as an opportunity, not a threat."
The Courts

Submission + - Appeals Court Rules Against Google on Keyword Ads (

Eric Goldman writes: "The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Google in Rescuecom v. Google, a trademark infringement lawsuit over Google's keyword advertising practices. The court said: "The Complaint's allegations that Google's recommendation and sale of Rescuecom's mark to Google's advertisers, so as to trigger the appearance of their advertisements and links in a manner likely to cause consumer confusion when a Google user launches a search of Rescuecom's trademark, properly alleges a claim under the Lanham Act." While this result hampers Google's ability to end trademark lawsuits early, the case is still at an early stage and Google could still win."
The Courts

Submission + - Utah's Third Attempt to Regulate Keywords Fails (

Eric Goldman writes: "Slashdot previously reported on HB 450, the Utah Legislature's third attempt to regulate keyword advertising after the past 2 efforts failed miserably. The latest attempt barely passed the Utah House, aided in part by a "yes" vote by Representative Jennifer Seelig, who also happens to be a lobbyist-employee of 1-800 Contacts, the principal advocate of HB 450. Nevertheless, HB 450 died in the Utah Senate without a vote when the Utah Legislature adjourned last night. Despite the seeming good news, it would be surprising if the Utah Legislature didn't try a fourth attempt to regulate keyword advertising in a future session."
The Courts

Submission + - Utah Trying to Restrict Keyword Advertising--Again (

Eric Goldman writes: "The Utah legislature has tried to restrict keyword advertising twice before, with disastrous results. In 2004, Utah tried to ban keyword advertising in adware; that law was declared unconstitutional. In 2007, Utah tried to regulate competitive keyword advertising; after a firestorm of protests, Utah repealed the law in 2008. Despite this track record, Utah is trying to regulate keyword advertising a third time. HB 450 would allow trademark owners to block competitors from displaying certain types of keyword ads. In practice, this law is just another attempt by the Utah legislature to enact a law that doesn't help consumers at all but does help trademark owners suppress their online competition."

Comment CAN-SPAM Worked Exactly as Expected (Score 3, Informative) 301

Congress had no idea why spam was a problem and therefore did not draft legislation designed to address the problem. Instead, they took a shotgun approach of trying to legislate against a panoply of problems, which meant that the law was not designed to fix any single problem and therefore was not going to succeed even from day 1. Eric.

Comment 230 Applies Even if Content is Controlled (Score 4, Informative) 180

The post says "The US Communications Deceny Act section 230 grants providers of internet services (such as the Wikipedia and Wikinews) immunity from legal action related to their user-generated content provided they do not exercise pre-publication control." But this is factually inaccurate. 230 applies even if a website exercises editorial control prior to publication. See, e.g., Blumenthal v. Drudge. Eric.

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