Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
April 11, 2001, 8:00 AM ET, Alert No. 163.
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Napster News
4/10. The U.S. District Court (NDCal) held a hearing in A&M Records v. Napster. Judge Marilyn Patel stated that Napster's failure to block copyrighted songs was "disgraceful," and suggested that she might again order that Napster be shut down. RIAA General Counsel Cary Sherman released a statement afterwards: "Today's hearing reflects Judge Patel's determination to ensure that the Court's injunction is obeyed and that Napster's infringing conduct comes to an end. Notwithstanding Napster's nitpicking over every detail of the Court's Order in an effort to resist compliance, we are confident that the Court will make the injunction effective. From our perspective, what's important now is the continuing stream of new deals being announced by our companies to bring innovative, online subscription services to consumers. Napster would do well to do whatever it takes to come into compliance, and then turn their full energies into launching a new, legitimate business."
Misappropriation of Trade Secrets
4/10. The U.S. Court of Appeals (8thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in Children's Broadcasting Corp. v. Disney a case involving misappropriation of trade secrets, and the trial court's authority to grant judgment as a matter of law (JMOL). Children's Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) created a 24 hour radio format aimed at children and their parents. In 1995 ABC Radio, which did not then have a competing format, contracted to provide CBC services, including advertising sales, affiliate development, and consulting. Both parties agreed to keep information developed during the term of the agreement confidential and to use this information only for the purposes of the agreement; however, the agreement was terminable at will. In 1996 ABC Radio terminated the agreement, and began its own children's radio format. CBC filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DMinn) against Disney (which acquired ABC in 1996) and ABC Radio, alleging a variety of claims. The claims which survived defendants' motion for summary judgment were misappropriation of trade secrets, breach of contract for failure to use reasonable efforts to sell advertising and develop affiliates, and breach of the contractual duty of confidentiality. The jury found that defendants had misappropriated CBC's advertiser list and rate information, and awarded it $10 Million from each defendant. The jury also found that ABC Radio breached the contract with respect to advertising sales and confidentiality and awarded $20 Million. The District Court then granted defendants JMOL on the grounds that CBC had not presented sufficient evidence as to causation and damages; it also granted an alternative motion for a new trial on the issue of damages. The Appeals Court reversed the JMOL, but affirmed the grant of a new trial on damages.
New Documents
USCAopinion in CBC v. Disney, a case involving misappropriation of trade secrets, 4/10 (PDF, USCA).
PPI: report criticizing President Bush's trade policy, 4/10 (HTML, PPI).
Moore: speech on free trade and the WTO, 4/10 (HTML, WTO).
Hunter: HR 1467, a bill to withdraw normal trade relations treatment from the People's Republic of China (HMTL, LibCong).
English: HR 1446, Standard Trade Negotiating Authority Act of 2001 (HMTL, LibCong).
Trade News
4/9. President Bush's proposed budget would increase funding for the USTR from $29,452,000 for FY2001 to $30,097,000 for FY2001. This is an increase of $645,000, or 2%. This proposal also projects that the USTR will have 203 full time equivalent employees in FY 2002, the same as in FY 2001. See, proposed budget for the Executive Office of the President [PDF] and USTR release.
4/10. President Bush and King Abdullah of Jordan met in Washington DC to discuss the U.S. Jordan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) [PDF], and other topics. The FTA was negotiated by the Clinton administration last year, but has not yet been ratified by the Senate. Trade with Jordan is minimal. However, controversy has arisen because many see this FTA as a blueprint for future FTAs. The main dispute is whether these FTA's should contain language addressing labor and environmental issues, as does this FTA with Jordan. The Jordan FTA is also significant because it contains extensive language pertaining to intellectual property and e-commerce. This FTA addresses patents, trademarks, copyright, and enforcement of IPR. It also provides that the parties will not impose new customs duties on electronic transmissions. President Bush and King Abdullah also held a joint press conference. Bush stated that "We had a very good discussion about trade, and I explained to His Majesty that ours is a country that believes in free trade. We look forward to working to get an agreement, one way or the other, out of our Congress, that encourages free trade with Jordan. We will be discussing strategies as how best to achieve that objective; but the objective is for there to be a free trade agreement between our countries."
4/10. The Progressive Policy Institute, a Democratic party think tank, released a report criticizing President Bush's trade policy. It condemns President Bush's refusal to submit to the Senate the Jordan FTA negotiated by the Clinton administration. It also condemns Bush for not giving any major public addresses regarding free trade and fast track trade negotiating authority.
4/10. WTO Director General Mike Moore gave a far ranging speech on free trade and the WTO in Brussels, Belgium.  
4/10. The ACLU announced that it will run an ad in the print editions of the New York Times and the New Yorker on April 16 and 15, respectively, criticizing the Echelon and Carnivore communications surveillance programs. The ad will feature a picture of a cell phone and the large print statement, "Now equipped with 3-way calling. You, whoever you're dialing, and the government."
USPTO Practice
4/10. The USPTO released a form [PDF] titled "Applications for Registration to Practice Before the United States Patent and Trademark Office" to be used for the October 17, 2001 examination. The filing deadline is July 6, 2001.
4/10. Former FCC Chairman William Kennard will join the Board of Directors of Handspring, maker of the Visor handheld computer. See, release.
4/10. Lynn Pasahow and David Hadden joined the law firm of Fenwick & West as partners in the litigation group. Both previously worked in the Palo Alto office of McCutchen Doyle as partners. Both Pasahow and Hadden focus on complex intellectual property and patent litigation related to computer hardware and software. They obtained a preliminary injunction enforcing Amazon's 1-Click patent.
4/10. Jeff Grove, former Staff Director of the Subcommittee on Technology of the House Science Committee, has been named Director of the Association for Computing Machinery Public Policy office in Washington, DC.
1:15 PM. Commissioner Orson Swindle will speak at the "Privacy & American Business Corporate Privacy Officer Program 2001's Washington Briefing and Peer Workshop." Location: Hyatt Regency, Washington, DC.
2:00 PM. The PTO Fee Coalition will hold a meeting. Interested companies and trade associations should call Wayne Paugh at 202-521-6717.
FCC News
4/10. The FCC's Mass Media Bureau announced an application filing window for construction permits for Low Power FM (LPFM) stations in selected states. The window will open on June 11, 2001 and close on June 15, 2001. See, FCC release.
4/10. The FCC's Enforcement Bureau dismissed a complaint asking it to investigate erroneous election night projections in Florida by major news organizations.
4/10. The FCC extended the deadline for filing reply comments in its Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding cable open access to May 11. (See, In the Matter of Nondiscrimination in the Distribution of Interactive Television Services Over Cable, CS Docket No. 01-7.) The deadline had been April 20. The Media Access Project filed a request to extend the reply comment deadline, citing the voluminous and complex original comments filed in response to the NOI. The FCC's electronic filing system contains 27 such comments.
4/10. The FCC's Common Carrier Bureau's Accounting Safeguards Division held a public meeting to discuss policies and procedures for independent audits.
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