juridiko by Sean Hogle

ALI's Proposed Principles of the Law of Software Contracts Approved for Final Release

In a previous blog posting, I discussed the new ALI Principles of the Law of Software Contracts. On May 19, 2009, the ALI membership, at its annual meeting, gave final approval to these principles. A number of provisions will prove controversial among software companies, particularly the new non-waivable implied warranty of no hidden material defects.

Symbian Foundation Legal Policy

Notwithstanding recent inroads made by Apple with respect to the iPhone Mac OS-based operating system, the Symbian operating system is the most successful operating system in use today for high-end smart phones, largely thanks to the efforts of Nokia. The Symbian Foundation, a non-profit consortium of various companies in the wireless industry, is charged with charting the future course of the open source Symbian Foundation Platform, based on Symbian OS.

On-Line Contracts that May Be Modified at any Time per Notice Held Unenforceable

A United States district court in Texas issued an important ruling regarding the enforceability of online terms of use agreements, in a dispute between users of Blockbuster Online, an on-line video rental service Blockbuster Inc. controls, and the users of such service who alleged that Blockbuster violated the Video Privacy Protection Act. The Act prohibits disclosure of personally identifiable information in connection with video rentals.

US Appeals Court Rules an Irrevocable License Cannot Be Terminated Even in the Case of Material Breach

In 1998, Nano-Proprietary Inc. granted Canon Inc. an "irrevocable" and "perpetual" license under Nano-Proprietary's field emission display patents, useful in field of flat panel televisions. The license expressly prohibited sublicenses. A mere six months later, Canon entered into a joint development venture with Toshiba to develop technology utilizing Nano's patents. After Nano brought suit, the lower court in the case ruled that the joint venture constituted an impermissible sublicense and therefore a material breach of the agreement.

ALI's Proposed Principles of the Law of Software Contracts Set for Final Release

Founded in 1923, the American Law Institute (ALI) consists of “judges, practicing lawyers, and legal scholars from all areas of the United States as well as some foreign countries, selected on the basis of professional achievement and demonstrated interest in the improvement of the law” who are tasked with publishing “various Restatements of the Law, model codes, and legal studies to promote the clarification and simplification of the law.”

Clean Room Defeats Software Infringement Claim in US Federal Court

Under copyright and trade secrets laws as such laws apply to source code, if a person without permission copies the source code or misappropriates a trade secret contained within the code (such as know-how), that person is liable to the owner of the copyrighted code or the trade secret embodied within that code.

Jacobsen v. Katzer: A Significant Victory for Open Source

Open source licenses rely on enforcement of certain obligations intended to further the ideals of the free software movement. The more significant of these obligations include preservation of copyright notices and developer attribution, to preserve the pride of authorship that motivates the open source developer community, and, most importantly, mandating that any modifications, improvements or derivative works of the open source software be made available under the same terms as the original license under which the software is licensed.

Make Sure Your Arbitration Clause Covers IP Disputes

Mandatory arbitration clauses in licensing agreements as the exclusive means of resolving licensor-licensee disputes are becoming more common. Typically such clauses are phrased in terms of requiring "any controversy or claim arising out of or relating to this contract, or breach thereof" to be settled by binding arbitration. A recent US Court of Appeals decision has revealed that this language can in certain situations be insufficient to bring into the arbitration obligation's scope intellectual property-related disputes that may arise between the parties.

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