New Post at TECH{dot}MN

My second post at TECH{dot}MN is a quick overview of various employment agreements that can get you into trouble if you ignore them. Anyone starting a new business needs to review what agreements they have signed with their former employer.

More at TECH{dot}MN

Judge Reduces Award in Jammie Thomas-Rasset Filesharing Case

On Friday, the court reduced the damages in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset filesharing case from $80,000 per song to $2,250 per song. The total now stands at $53,000 which is much less than the the jury awarded. Here is what Judge Michael Davis had to say at page 15:

Although Plaintiffs highlight valid reasons that Thomas‐Rasset must pay a statutory damages award, these facts simply cannot justify a $2 million verdict in this case. Thomas‐Rasset was not a business acting for profit. Instead, she was an individual consumer illegally seeking free access to music for her own use. Congress set a high maximum for statutory damages in order to ensure that damages awards could be large enough to outweigh the potential gain from infringing. As the Court noted in its September 2008 Order, in the case of commercial actors, the potential gain in revenues is enormous and enticing to potential infringers. In the case of individuals who infringe by using peer‐to‐peer networks, the potential gain from infringement is access to free music, not the possibility of hundreds of thousands – or even millions – of dollars in profits. The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music.

It will be very interesting to see if this reasoning is applied in future copyright statutory damages rulings.

A copy of the Order can be found at Copyrights and Campaigns

Trade Secrets: The Other Intellectual Property

I have a short article over on TECHdotMN about why new businesses need to have a plan to protect trade secrets.

Launch of TECHdotMN

I am pleased to announce the launch of the TECHdotMN blog. This is a collaboration between a number of people who are interested in startups and technology in Minnesota. I will be contributing as the legal correspondent. There are already a number of local startup spotlight posts written with much more to come. Here is a link to my “welcome post.”


Philip K. Dick’s estate threatens Google over Nexus One

The movie Blade Runner is based on the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? written by Philip K. Dick. The androids or replicants in question were Nexus-6 series. I am still confused how a phone, however awesome, is going to evolve into a sophisticated killing machine in only five more revisions. In all seriousness, it is a difficult case to make that brands of fictional products in novels automatically have any trademark protection. As a side note, I believe Google’s use of DROID is under a license from Lucasfilms.

Link to the Wall Street Journal story.

Hat tip to the always interesting

USPTO Director coming to William Mitchell College of Law

From the William Mitchell alumni website:

David Kappos, undersecretary of commerce and director of the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office is coming to William Mitchell College of Law to discuss his vision for the USPTO. Save the date.Tuesday, April 6, 20104:30 pmWilliam Mitchell’s Auditorium The event is free and open to the public. Seating is limited

Here is the link to register.

Happy 2010

Merry Christmas!

Capitol Records Sues Vimeo for Lip-Dub Videos

While ordinarily an ISP or web service like Vimeo could get off the hook under section 512 of the DMCA, it does complicate things when your staff creates and posts a video that is allegedly infringing.

Link to the Trademark Blog which includes both the video in question and the complaint.

Top 10 Cyberlaw Developments of 2009

Great post by John Ottavianni on Eric Goldman’s Technology and Marketing Blog recaps some of the more consequential developments in cyberlaw this past year.