Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
Dec. 21, 2000, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 88.
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New TLJ Stories
Patent Infringement Suits Lay Claims to Hyperlinking Technology. Two separate lawsuits filed in federal court in New York assert claims of patent infringement regarding use of hyperlinking and web browsing technology. British Telecom belatedly alleged in a test case brought against ISP Prodigy that it holds an old and broad patent covering hyperlinking and web browsing. Prodigy called the claim "shameless" and "groundless." ACTV asserted a narrower set of patents on technology for incorporating web links into interactive TV programming.
New Documents
Labor: interim final rules (part 1, part 2, and part 3) implementing American worker protection provisions of H1B visa bill, 12/20 (TXT, FedReg).
FTC: administrative complaint against CSC and Mynd, 12/20 (PDF, FTC).
FTC: Decision and Order re CSC and Mynd, 12/20 (PDF, FTC).
FTC: Analysis of CSC/Mynd agreement, 12/20 (PDF, FTC).
BT: Complaint for patent infringement against Prodigy, 12/13 (HTML, TLJ).
ACTV: Complaint for patent infringement against Disney, ABC and ESPN, 12/20 (HTML, TLJ).
New and Updated Sections
Calendar (updated daily).
News from Around the Web (updated daily).
Quote of the Day
"In July, I wrote urging the Commission take appropriate measures to foster interoperability among competing instant messaging (IM) services. The Commission is actively considering whether to approve the merger of AOL and Time Warner. As part of those deliberations, I again point out that we cannot allow the balkanization of this new service and all its potential. To that end, the Commission should consider steps that will immediately remove impediments to interoperability. Half measures will not do. Since my last correspondence, two prominent, yet small IM providers have gone out of business. Surely the environment for IM providers large and small will be better if this interoperaability problem is solved promptly."

Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT), Chairman of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, Dec. 19 letter to the FCC.

News Briefs
12/20. The Employment and Training Administration of the Labor Department published in the Federal Register H1B visa interim final regulations implementing recent legislation. These interim rules implement changes made to the Immigration and Nationality Act by the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act of 1998. The Labor Dept. seeks further comment. This bill, and another passed this year, temporarily increase the annual cap on visas for foreign high tech workers. This act was passed by the 105th Congress in Nov. of 1998. Some Members of Congress have criticized the Dept. of Labor for its long delay in issuing these regulations, which implement the American worker protection provisions of the act. The massive document is online in three sections. See, Federal Register, Dec. 20, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 245, at pages 80109-80158, 80159-80208, and 80209-80254.
12/20. The FTC approved Computer Sciences Corp.'s (CSC) acquisition of Mynd, subject to the condition that CSC divest Mynd's claims assessment system, known as Claims Outcome Advisor, to Insurance Services Office, Inc. To put this into effect, the FTC filed an administrative complaint [PDF] against CSC and Mynd. The parties also simultaneously filed an Agreement and Decision and Order [PDF]. See also, FTC release and FTC Analysis [PDF].
12/20. The Dept. of Health and Human Services released its final regulations regarding medical privacy. See, HHS release, HHS summary, and the entire text of the regulations [1535 pages in PDF]. See also, ITAA reaction and Clinton statement.
12/20. ACTV and HyperTV filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (SDNY) against Disney, ABC, and ESPN alleging patent infringment. Plaintiffs assert that Defendants' integration of television programming with web page access on Monday Night Football, and other programs, infringes upon three patents held be ACTV. See, ACTV release. See also, TLJ story.
12/20. AOL and Time Warner issued a joint release, which stated, "America Online, Inc. (NYSE: AOL) and Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) reiterated today, consistent with what they have said in the past, that their merger will close at the end of the year or in the very early days of January."
12/20. USA Today published an opinion piece by Cisco CEO John Chambers on elections. "Our system of conducting elections is out of date. We live in the Internet age, but we vote with punch-card technology that's as old as radio," wrote Chambers. "We must -- and we can -- do better. Computer technology and the Internet can make it easier for us to vote and make the process of counting votes faster and more accurate."
12/20. The U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Western Journalism Center v. Cederquist, affirming the trial court's dismissal of the case. Plaintiff, WJC, an ideologically conservative media foundation, alleged that the defendants, two officers of the IRS, conducted an audit of the WJC to review its tax-exempt status in order to retaliate against it for its First Amendment activity -- writing about the Whitewater scandal. The IRS, which found no irregularities, also audited contributors of the WJC. The district court dismissed for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The Appeals Court affirmed on different grounds -- that the complaint was not filed within the one year statute of limitations in Calif. for tort actions. However, one judge, Stephen Reinhardt, wrote a concurring opinion stating that while the action was barred by the statute of limitations, the District Court also erred in ruling that taxpayers have no remedy against the IRS for audits which violate First Amendment rights. This is not a technology related case. However, the IRS is now conducting an inquiry regarding whether it should revise its rules regarding the effect of Internet communications by tax exempt entities on their eligibility for tax exempt status. Both the WJC, and its attorney in this proceeding, Judicial Watch, maintain extensive web sites. The IRS's announcement of its Internet inquiry posses many questions, including, "Does providing a hyperlink on a charitable organization's website to another organization that engages in political campaign intervention result in per se prohibited political intervention?" and "To what extent are statements made by subscribers to a forum, such as a listserv or newsgroup, attributable to an exempt organization that maintains the forum?"
12/20. The USPTO published in the Federal Register a notice and request for comments pertaining to declaring a patent interference. Comments on or before January 31, 2001. See, Federal Register, Dec. 20, 2000, Vol. 65, No. 245, at pages 79809-79810.
Editor's Note: This column includes all News Briefs added to Tech Law Journal since the last Daily E-Mail Alert. The date indicates when the event occurred, not the date of posting to Tech Law Journal.
12/20. SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt announced he will step down as Chairman before mid February 2001. He was first appointed in July 1993, and then reappointed for a second five year term in May 1998. See, Levitt's farewell address to SEC staff.
12/20. President Elect Bush announced that he will nominate Don Evans to be Secretary of Commerce. He served as General Chairman and National Finance Chairman for the Bush 2000 presidential campaign.
12/20. The FCC announced that Bill Dever has been promoted to Asst. Div. Chief of the Policy and Program Division of the Common Carrier Bureau. This Division works on FCC evaluations of RBOC's Section 271 applications to provide long distance phone service, and antitrust merger review proceedings involving common carriers. For example, Dever worked as a team leader for the FCC's review of the SBC Ameritech merger, which the FCC dragged out for 18 months. See, FCC release.
12/20. The FCC announced that Jonathan Levy has been promoted to Acting Deputy Chief Economist of the FCC. He has been with the FCC since 1980; he is currently Senior Staff Economist in the Office of Plans and Policy. See, FCC release [PDF].
Holiday Schedule
The TLJ Daily E-Mail Alert will not be published on Friday, Dec. 23, Monday, Dec. 25, or Tuesday, Dec. 26.
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