Category Archives: Internet Law

Local, regional, national, and international laws and regulations can impact the way that the Web works, and how businesses and organizations and individuals can use the Web. Posts under this category explore laws and changes to laws involving the internet.

Xerox Brings Patent Infringement Suit Against Google, Yahoo, and YouTube

Charles Knight, who is now the Search Editor at Nextweb pointed me to a Bloomberg report at BusinessWeek, Google, Yahoo Sued by Xerox Over Search Query Patents.

The patent infringement complaint (PDF – 308k) contains claims that specifically name the following programs as infringing Xerox’s patented technology: Google’s Adsense and Adwords programs, Google Maps, Google Video, and YouTube, as well as Yahoo’s Search Marketing and Publisher Network, Y!Q Contextual Search, and Yahoo Shopping.

The article provided descriptions of the Xerox patents in question, but didn’t identify the patents themselves. While I was able to find one of the two patents from a search at the patent office, the other patent eluded me. I registered with, and signed on to the Federal Government’s PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system to look at the complaint and find the other patent.

Xerox filed the case in federal court in Wilmington, Delaware on February 19th, and asks the Court for cash damages and an order that would keep Google, Yahoo, and YouTube from continuing to “use” the technology described under the patents in question, without permission.

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Proposed FTC Endorsement and Testimonial Ad Revisions Add Blogs, Message Boards, Street Teams

The FTC is considering their first new revisions involving endorsements and testimonials in advertising since 1980, adding blogs, message boards, and street teams to their coverage, as well as imposing stricter guidelines for disclosures in ads.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requested comments (pdf) and provided an analysis of changes and revisions to their Guidelines involving Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising on the Federal Register on November 28, 2008, and requested public comments by January 30, 2009. The period for public comments was extended into March, 2009.

These proposed guidelines from the FTC could affect the use of disclaimers in advertising, and directly address the use of advertising through blogs and message boards and street teams. The guidelines haven’t been amended since the 1980s, and the Web has introduced many changes in the ways that advertisers may attempt to introduce products and services to consumers.

It’s been a long time since the Guides Concerning the Use to Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (16 CFR Part 255) were updated, and I was curious about the changes, especially those involving the Web.

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Copyrights and Copy Wrongs: What is Copyright and Copyright Infringement?

This is the first of multiple posts on copyright, and what you can do when someone takes the content from the pages of your web site or blog and republishes that content on their site without permission and without attribution.

Hopefully this series will give you an idea of some of the steps that you might be able to take when someone has copied content that you have created, and used it without asking first.

It is inspired by an actual event which will be described in more detail as the series continues, and I am hoping that the series will help others who find their work on other websites without their knowledge.

Have you ever had something like the following happen to you?

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Remixing the Future of Copyright: Pam Samuelson at Yahoo

A portion of Howard Pyle's picture of a pirate sitting upon a hill of sand.

Reprise Media created a wonderful Superbowl Search Marketing Scorecard. I’m not sure if any of the ads I saw on Sunday night really stood out for me, but some of them were interesting, such as the Doritos ad that was created by an amateur film maker.

Maybe that’s not a bad thing though – the past Superbowl commercial I remember best is the 2004 Pepsi/Apple cross promotional ad which focused upon downloading music legally.

The Glamorization of Copyright Infringement

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Legal Evidence and the Growth of Social Networks

I’ve been noticing more and more social networking sites appearing recently. I also came across an interesting article on what online interactions and social networks may mean to the legal industry. First, a look at the article, and then some links to news about new social networks. Finally, a quick look at a patent application that aims at making it easier to find communities online.

Social Networks and Rules of Evidence

The article is one I came across on First Monday and it looks at the use of information from profiles, blogs, and social networks as evidence in MySpace on the record: The admissibility of social website content under the Federal Rules of Evidence.

The article presents a number of hypothetical fact patterns; a sexual predator contacting a juvenile online and attempting to kidnap her, a blogger writing about a defective product, and someone using eBay to fence items. It then describes how evidence culled from those situations, gathered on social networking sites and forums and blogs might potentially be used as evidence in a products liability case, and in a couple of different criminal prosecutions.

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Trends in Search Related Patents

I thought it might be interesting to take a handful of phrases, and see how many times (year-by-year) that they were mentioned in granted patents and published patent applications at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). I chose the following to look at: Internet, Search Engine, Algorithm, Google, and Yahoo!

The USPTO granted patents database allows full text searches from 1976, and the USPTO published patent applications database includes patent applications from 2001, so I was limited by those dates.

I also looked for the first mention of these phrases in the granted patents database. If the terms were first mentioned prior to 1976, I couldn’t search for those (so the first mention of “Algorithm” isn’t included here).

The first granted patent (1997) which mentions “Yahoo!” is one from IBM – Itinerary list for interfaces.

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Patents involved in IBM vs Amazon

Before I begin writing about this topic, I’d like to thank Pandia Search Engine News, which named SEO by the Sea as one of the Top 5 search engine marketing blogs. The selection places this blog in some very distinquished company. I’m not sure that I could come up with a top 5 or even a top 50 list of search marketing blogs because I find so much value in the voices of so many who share their thoughts and experiences and insights on a regular basis, which is reflected by the large number of blogs in the blogroll here.

Often, I write about new patent filings that have been published for the first time as patent applications or that have been granted. Sometimes, I’ll write about some that may have been acquired when one company purchases another, or when someone is hired by one of the major search engines and there is a large body of patents with their names listed as inventor or co-inventor.

Last night I noticed some reports of a legal dispute between two high profile companies over intellectual property possibly touching upon core aspects of the way the Web works, which I wanted to dig into more.

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Belgian Copyright Case Expands in Scope; MSN Also Contacted by Copiepresse

There’s a great thread at Groklaw which delves deeply into the legal landmine surrounding news search in Belgium – Interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse About Google.be

The opening post includes an interview with Margaret Boribon of Copiepresse, the organization that recently obtained a default judgment against Google, which forced the search giant to include a copy of the judgment on the front page of their Belgian News Search and organic search.

The thread was started yesterday, and an update this morning points to articles announcing some interesting new twists. One is that Copiepresse has made some demands of MSN (link no longer available) and their news coverage. It also notes that they may expand their scope beyond search engines in the future to other sites that may be taking their content without permission.

That article notes that the lawyer from Copiepresse indicates that MSN Belgium has been more open to cooperation than Google.

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