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The Courts

Supreme Court: No Patents For Natural DNA Sequences 214

ColdWetDog writes "The ongoing story of Myriad Genetics versus the rest of the world has come to an end. In a 9-0 decision, the US Supreme Court has decided that human genes cannot be patented. From a brief Bloomberg article: 'Writing for the court, Justice Clarence Thomas said isolated DNA is a "product of nature and not patent eligible merely because it has been isolated." At the same time, Thomas said synthetic molecules known as complementary DNA, or cDNA, can be patented because they require a significant amount of human manipulation to create.' Seems perfectly sane. Raw genes, the ones you find in nature are, wait for it — natural. Other bits of manipulated DNA / RNA / protein which take skill and time to create are potentially patentable. Oddly, Myriad Genetics stock actually rose on that information." Adds reader the eric conspiracy: "The result for Myriad is that they still have protection for their test, however the decision also allows researchers to work with the DNA sequences that are predecessors to the cDNA used in the test." Here's an AP report on the ruling, as carried by the Washington Post.
Books

Supreme Court Upholds First Sale Doctrine 648

langelgjm writes "In a closely-watched case, the U.S. Supreme Court today vindicated the first-sale doctrine, declaring that it "applies to copies of a copyrighted work lawfully made abroad." The case involved a Thai graduate student in the U.S. who sold cheap foreign versions of textbooks on eBay without the publisher's permission. The 6-3 decision has important implications for goods sold online and in discount stores. Justice Stephen Breyer said in his opinion (PDF) that the publisher lost any ability to control what happens to its books after their first sale abroad."
Google

Judge Rules API's Can Not Be Copyrighted 365

Asmodae writes "Judge Alsup in the Oracle vs Google case has finally issued his ruling on the issue of whether or not APIs can be copyrighted. That ruling is resounding no. In some fairly clear language the judge says: 'So long as the specific code used to implement a method is different, anyone is free under the Copyright Act to write his or her own code to carry out exactly the same function or specification of any methods used in the Java API.'"
Privacy

Massachusetts Police Can't Place GPS On Autos Without Warrant 194

pickens writes "The EFF reports that the Supreme Court of Massachusetts has held in Commonwealth v. Connolly that police may not place GPS tracking devices on cars without first getting a warrant, reasoning that the installation of the GPS device was a seizure of the suspect's vehicle. Search and seizure is a legal procedure used in many civil law and common law legal systems whereby police or other authorities and their agents, who suspect that a crime has been committed, do a search of a person's property and confiscate any relevant evidence to the crime. According to the decision, 'when an electronic surveillance device is installed in a motor vehicle, be it a beeper, radio transmitter, or GPS device, the government's control and use of the defendant's vehicle to track its movements interferes with the defendant's interest in the vehicle notwithstanding that he maintains possession of it.' Although the case only protects drivers in Massachusetts, another recent state court case, People v. Weaver in the State of New York, also held that because modern GPS devices are far more powerful than beepers, police must get a warrant to use the trackers, even on cars and people traveling the public roads."
Education

Judge Says Boston Student's Laptop Was Seized Illegally 190

You may remember a case we discussed this April in which a Boston College student's computers and other electronics were seized after he allegedly sent an email outing another student as gay. The search warrant made sure to note the student's ever-so-suspicious use of "two different operating systems," one of which was "a black screen with a white font which he uses prompt commands on." Now, the EFF reports that a Massachusetts judge has thrown out the search warrant and declared the search and seizure illegal. Quoting: "In her order Thursday, Justice Margot Botsford rejected the Commonwealth's theory that sending a hoax email might be unlawful under a Massachusetts computer crime statute barring the 'unauthorized access' to a computer, concluding that there could be no violation of what was only a 'hypothetical internet use policy.' Thursday's decision now stands as the highest state court opinion to reject the dangerous theory that terms of service violations constitute computer 'hacking' crimes. Justice Botsford further found that details offered by police as corroboration of other alleged offenses were insufficient and did not establish probable cause for the search." The court order (PDF) is available for viewing, and the EFF has broken down the significant arguments against the Commonwealth's claims.
Patents

The Death of Nearly All Software Patents? 731

An anonymous reader writes "The Patent and Trademark Office has now made clear that its newly developed position on patentable subject matter will invalidate many and perhaps most software patents, including pioneering patent claims to such innovators as Google, Inc. In a series of cases including In re Nuijten, In re Comiskey and In re Bilski, the Patent and Trademark Office has argued in favor of imposing new restrictions on the scope of patentable subject matter set forth by Congress in article 101 of the Patent Act. In the most recent of these three — the currently pending en banc Bilski appeal — the Office takes the position that process inventions generally are unpatentable unless they 'result in a physical transformation of an article' or are 'tied to a particular machine.'"
The Internet

Canadian TV to Adopt DRM-Free BitTorrents 229

An anonymous reader writes "Canada's public broadcast network, CBC, is to adopt DRM free BitTorrent distribution of one of its major primetime shows, Canada's Next Great Prime Minister. The effort has already been hailed by Canadian copyright guru Michael Geist, who expects the decision to add fuel to Canada's net neutrality debate. A CBC producer behind the show told CNET that the motivation for the move was that CBC 'wanted the show to be as accessible as possible to as many Canadians as possible, in the format that they want it in.' As for DRM, she said 'I think DRM is dead, even if a lot of broadcasters don't realize it.' She added that 'if it's bad for the consumers, its bad for the company.'"
The Almighty Buck

FTC Defends Ethernet From Patent Troll 59

I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "The FTC has put a stop to Negotiated Data Solutions, a patent troll that bought a patent on an important part of the Ethernet networking standard and tried to jack up the royalties for licensing it. In a consent decree (pdf), N-Data agreed to continue licensing the patent at the formerly promised rates. 'Whatever the merits of the decision, it shows that the FTC sees the value of standards and will be on the lookout for any behavior that could undermine these standards-setting process. That alone could keep companies honest when they enter the standards process. Standards-setting bodies have also become more sophisticated over the years (after being burned in several high-profile cases), and now do a better job at forcing involved companies to disclose and license patents.' The IEEE voted back in 2002 to make patent letters irrevocable, which could have prevented this, but neglected to make that clause retroactive."

Microsoft Withdraws Vista's Kill Switch 635

l-ascorbic writes "In what they are calling a change of tactics, Microsoft has removed the controversial 'kill switch' from Vista in SP1. This feature is designed to disable pirated copies of the OS, but had led to numerous reports of it disabling legitimate copies. It will be replaced with a notice that repeatedly informs the user that their OS is pirated. '[Microsoft corporate vice president Mike Sievert] added: "It's worth re-emphasizing that our fundamental strategy has not changed. All copies of Windows Vista still require activation and the system will continue to validate from time to time to verify that systems are activated properly." Microsoft said it had pursued legal action against more than 1,000 dealers of counterfeit Microsoft products in the last year and taken down more than 50,000 "illegal and improper" online software auctions.'"

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