Tech Law Journal Daily E-Mail Alert
November 14, 2001, 9:00 AM ET, Alert No. 308.
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Supreme Court Rules on Statute of Limitations in Identity Theft Case
11/13. The Supreme Court of the U.S. issued its opinion [PDF] in TRW v. Adelaide Andrews, a case regarding the running of the two year statute of limitations governing suits based on the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
Background. Adelaide Andrews had her identity stolen. An imposter obtained her name, social security number, and other information, which she provided to a radiologist. This imposter then used this information to apply for credit in Andrews' name. TRW, a credit reporting agency now known as Experian, disclosed her credit record upon each application.
Lower Courts. Andrews filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (CDCal) against TRW alleging violation of the FCRA. She filed her suit 17 months after learning of TRW's disclosures, but more than two years after the disclosures. The District Court ruled that the statute of limitations had run. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals (9thCir) reversed.
FCRA. The FCRA, 15 U.S.C. 1681, et seq., requires credit reporting agencies to maintain reasonable procedures designed to assure maximum possible accuracy of the information contained in credit reports, limits the furnishing of such reports to certain statutorily enumerated purposes, and creates a private right of action allowing injured consumers to recover any actual damages caused by negligent violations. It further provides that suits for violation of the Act must be brought "within two years from the date on which the liability arises." However, in the case of willful misrepresentation, suit must be brought within two years of discovery by the plaintiff.
Supreme Court. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Ninth Circuit.
8th Circuit Rules on Advertising Injury and Copyright Infringement
11/13. The U.S. Court of Appeals (8thCir) issued its opinion [PDF] in GRE Insurance v. Complete Music, a case regarding an insurer's duty to indemnify for losses to its policy holder resulting from copyright infringement by its policy holder.
Complete Music is a franchisor of mobile disc jockey services. GRE Insurance sold Complete Music an insurance policy that covered " 'advertising injury' caused by an offense committed in the course of advertising your goods, products or services." The policy further provided that " 'Advertising Injury' means injury arising out of one or more of the following offenses: ... Infringement of copyright, title or slogan."
Complete Music distributed compilation music discs produced by another company, which was not licensed to make the discs. In a separate action, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sued Complete Music for copyright infringement. Complete Music then tendered the defense to its insurer, GRE, and asserted coverage under the advertising injury section of the policy. GRE declined coverage. Complete settled with the RIAA for $650,000.
In the present action, GRE filed a complaint in U.S. District Court (DNeb) against Complete Music seeking a declaration that it has no duty under the policy to indemnify Complete Music in the RIAA action. The District Court ruled for GRE. The Appeals Court affirmed.
The Appeals Court elaborated that "Complete Music failed to establish the requisite causal connection between its advertising activities and the copyright infringement by its franchisees. The evidence shows that the primary objective of its advertising activities was to induce the sale of franchises, not copyright infringement. ... It was the playing of the copyrighted songs that infringed, and this could have occurred independent of Complete Music's advertising."
Bush and Putin Meet
11/13. U.S. President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement regarding the U.S. Russian economic relationship. They stated that "We declare support to other U.S. Russian investment projects in various fields and, above all, in high technology areas." They also stated that both support Russia's goal of joining the World Trade Organization (WTO).
They continued that "We will work together to build confidence in the climate for trade and investment between our two countries. An important element of this activity is Russia's integration into the rules based global trading system of the World Trade Organization. We confirm our commitment and place considerable priority to working together in an effort to accelerate Russia's WTO accession negotiations, based on standard conditions."
The two Presidents also issued a second statement in which they said that "The United States and Russia will cooperate, including through the support of direct contacts between the business communities of our countries, to advance U.S. Russian economic, trade, and investment relations. The achievement of these goals requires the removal of legislative and administrative barriers, a transparent, predictable investment climate, the rule of law, and market based economic reforms. To this end, it is important to reduce bureaucratic constraints on the economy and to combat economic crime and corruption."
The White House press office also released a statement on Russian accession to the WTO. "The United States strongly supports Russia's goal of World Trade Organization (WTO) accession, and is committed to helping accelerate the accession process at a pace acceptable to Russia. ... In order to accede to the WTO, Russia must negotiate a 'protocol package' of commitments with WTO Members that require reform of its trade regime."
More News
11/13. The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed its hearing to examine homeland defense issues, focusing on sharing information with local law enforcement.
Supreme Court Denies Cert in On Sale Bar Case
11/13. The Supreme Court of the U.S. denied a petition for writ of certiorari in Robotic Vision Systems v. View Engineering, without opinion, thereby letting stand an opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals (FedCir) regarding the on sale bar in patent infringement actions.
On Sale Bar. 35 U.S.C.  102(b) provides that "A person shall be entitled to a patent unless ... the invention was ... on sale in this country, more than one year prior to the date of the application for patent in the United States."
Background. Robotic is the assignee of U.S. Patent 5,463,227, which discloses a method of scanning the leads on integrated circuit devices that are arranged in rows and columns on a multi pocketed tray. The application for the '227 patent was filed on June 24, 1992, thus making June 24, 1991 the critical date for the purpose of applying 102(b).
Lower Court Proceedings. As soon as the patent was granted, Robotic filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court (CDCal) against View alleging that its three dimensional scanning machines infringed the patent '227 patent. View filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that the patent was invalid under the on sale bar. The District Court held that claim 1 of the '227 patent is invalid. The District Court applied the Supreme Court's two part test in Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, 525 U.S. 55 (1998); the invention was (1) the subject of a commercial offer for sale before the critical date, and (2) ready for patenting before the critical date, and hence, the patent is invalid. The Appeals Court affirmed on May 7, 2001.
House to Vote on CJS Bill
11/13. The House Rules Committee adopted a rule for consideration of the conference report on HR 2500, the Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary Appropriations Act for FY 2002. This bill includes funding for most of the technology related agencies and departments, including the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, FCC, FTC, DOJ, NTIA, NIST, BXA, and SEC. The rule provides that "All points of order against the conference report and against its consideration are waived. The conference report shall be considered as read."
House Senate Conference to Take up Bankruptcy Bill
There will be a conference on HR 333, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001 on Wednesday, November 14. The House passed its version of the bill by a vote of 306 to 108 on March 1. This is a large and broad bill. However, some provisions relate to online privacy. Section 231 of the House version requires the removal of the names of children from bankruptcy filings. In contrast, Section 231 of the Senate version of the bill, passed on July 17, prevents the sale by the bankruptcy trustee of personally identifiable information collected by the debtor, if the debtor had a policy against disclosure. See, HJC release.
The House conferees are Sensenbrenner, Hyde, Gekas, Smith (TX), Chabot, Barr, Conyers, Boucher, Nadler, Watt (NC), Oxley, Bachus, LaFalce, Tauzin, Barton, Dingell, Boehner, Castle, and Kildee. The Senate conferees are Leahy, Kennedy, Biden, Kohl, Feingold, Schumer, Durbin, Hatch, Grassley, Kyl, DeWine, Sessions and McConnell.
People and Appointments
11/13. The Board of Directors of Novell announced the appointment of Novell P/CEO, Jack Messman, as Chairman of the Board. The former Chairman, Eric Schmidt, resigned. See, release.
11/13. The Senate confirmed Edith Clement to be a Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals (5thCir) by a vote of 99 to 0.
11/13. Verizon Delaware named Bonnie Metz to the newly created position of Vice President, Government Affairs. She will oversee legislative matters, contacts with state and federal regulatory agencies, and community relations. See, release.
11/13. The Supreme Court of the United States released its Order List for November 13. It contains the following item: "D-2270 IN THE MATTER OF BILL CLINTON  Bill Clinton, of New York, New York, having requested to resign as a member of the Bar of this Court, it is ordered that his name be stricken from the roll of attorneys admitted to the practice of law before this Court. The Rule to Show Cause, issued on October 1, 2001, is discharged."
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Wednesday, Nov 14
The House will likely take up HR 2500, the Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary Appropriations Act for FY 2002 Conference Report. This includes funding most of the technology related agencies and departments, including the USPTO, FCC, FTC, DOJ, NTIA, NIST, BXA, and SEC.
8:15 AM - 7:00 PM. Day one of a two day conference hosted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Northwestern University Law School titled Securities Regulation in the Global Internet Economy. See, SEC release. Location: Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H Street NW.
8:30 AM - 4:30 PM. The Cato Institute will host a conference titled The Future of Intellectual Property in the Information Age. See, online conference program. Location: Cato Institute, corner of Massachusetts Ave. NW and 10th St., Washington DC. The agenda is:
   8:45 AM. Keynote address by Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA).
   9:30 AM. Panel 1: What Rights Do We Have in Our Intangible Intellectual Creations?
   10:45 AM. Panel 2: Digital Rights Management, Fair Use and Compulsory Licensing.
   12:45 PM. Luncheon address by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT).
   1:30 PM. Panel 3: The Limits of Fair Use and Anti Circumvention.
   3:30 PM. Panel 4: Business Method Patents.
Day three of a three day meeting of the ICANN titled "Security and Stability of the Internet Naming and Address Allocation Systems". Location: Marina Beach Marriott, Marina del Rey, California.
8:30 AM. The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) will host a day long event titled "Public Policy Forum: International E-Commerce & Internet Regulation." See, online brochure. Location: Omni Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert Street NW (at Connecticut Ave.).
9:00 AM. Day one of a two day meeting of the Bureau of Export Administration's Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee (ISTAC). The ISTAC advises the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Export Administration on technical questions that affect the level of export controls applicable to information systems equipment and technology. Part of this meeting will be opened to the public, and part will be closed. The items on the open session agenda include Intel IA64 Roadmap, Applied Micro Devices (AMD) Roadmap, ultra wide band (UWB) technology, and membership coverage of control list categories 3 (electronics), 4 (computers), and 5 (telecommunications and information security). Location: Hoover Building, Room 3884, 14th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, NW.
10:00 The Senate Judiciary Committee's Technology, Terrorism, and Government Information Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine new technologies for terrorism prevention, focusing on biometric identifiers. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Mass Media Practice Committee will host a brown bag lunch. The speaker will be Ken Ferree, Chief of the FCC's Cable Services Bureau. Location: NAB, ground floor conference room, 1771 N Street, NW.
2:00 PM. FTC Chairman Timothy Muris will participate in a panel discussion at the American Bar Association Presidential Showcase Program titled "Antitrust Initiatives in Europe and the United States." Location: Willard Hotel.
3:00 PM. House Senate conference on HR 333, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2001.  Location: Room SC-5, Capitol Building.
3:00 - 5:00 PM. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) will host a panel discussion on the book Free Trade, Sovereignty, Democracy: The Future of the World Trade Organization  (Amazon), by Claude Barfield. Location: AEI, Wohlstetter Conference Center, Twelfth Floor, 1150 17th Street, NW.
Thursday, Nov 15
Day one of a three day conference hosted by the Federalist Society titled "Fifteenth Annual National Lawyer's Convention". See, registration form and agenda. Location: The Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW.
8:00 AM - 5:30 PM. Day two of a two day conference hosted by the SEC and Northwestern University titled Securities Regulation in the Global Internet Economy. See, SEC release. Location: Grand Hyatt Hotel, 1000 H St. NW.
8:30 - 11:00 AM. The New Millennium Research Council will host an event titled "The New State of Competition in the Telecommunications Industry." For more information, contact Violet Hobsford at 202 263-2941. Location: Murrow Room, National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor.
8:45 AM. FTC Chairman Timothy Muris will speak at the American Bar Association Antitrust Section's Fall Forum titled "New Technologies / New Administrators". Location: Georgetown University Law Center.
9:00 AM. Day two of a two day meeting of the BXA's Information Systems Technical Advisory Committee (ISTAC). Location: Hoover Building, Room 3884, 14th Street between Pennsylvania and Constitution Avenues, NW.
10:00 AM. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a business meeting. Location: Room 226, Dirksen Building.
10:00 AM - 12:00 NOON. The FCC's Advisory Committee 2003 for the World Radiocommunication Conference will hold a meeting. See, notice in Federal Register. Location: TW-C305 (Commission Meeting Room), FCC, 445 12th Street, SW.
12:15 PM. The FCBA's Common Carrier Committee will host a brown bag lunch titled "A Blast from the Past" Views from Former Common Carrier Bureau Chiefs on Current FCC Common Carrier Policy & Practice." Location: Wiley Rein & Fielding, 1750 K Street, 10th Floor.
1:00 PM. The House Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection will hold a hearing titled Cyber Security: Private Sector Efforts Addressing Cyber Threats. Location: Room 2322, Rayburn Building.
2:00 PM? The U.S. International Telecommunication Advisory Committee (ITAC) will hold a meeting regarding preparations for the 2002 World Telecommunication Development Conference (WTDC). See, notice in Federal Register.
2:00 PM. The House Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims will hold a hearing on HR 3231, a bill to replace the Immigration and Naturalization Service with the Agency for Immigration Affairs. Location: Room 2237, Rayburn Building.
Friday, Nov 16
Day two of a three day conference hosted by the Federalist Society titled "Fifteenth Annual National Lawyer's Convention". See, registration form and agenda. Ted Olson, Solicitor General, will speak at 1:45 PM. Location: Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave., NW.
10:00 AM. The House Government Reform Committee's Government Efficiency, Financial Management and Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee will hold a hearing titled Oversight Hearing on National Identification Cards. Location: Room 2154, Rayburn Building.