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Recent Decisions

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The courts have been busy of late, ruling on a number of important issues to the world of social media, e-commerce and the ‘net more generally:

–A court in Ohio ruled that a fan site could not use the well known Ohio State trademarks and logos (Ohio State University v. Thomas, S.D. Ohio, No. 2:10-cv-753, 8/27/10).  The Court concluded that the site was not a “news” site, and that the use was not a “fair” use.  This case demonstrates, once again, that many of the presumptions of the Internet Age (e.g. you can use some else’s trademark in setting up a brand-focused website) are not actually true.

–The 9th Circuit ruled that when you “buy” software, and the folks who sell it call it a “license,” it may really be a license after all.  The lower court ruling in Vernor v. Autodesk Inc.,9th Cir., No. 2:07-cv-01189-RAJ, 9/10/10 gave hope to many businesses (and individuals) that the software they purchased was, in fact, a purchase, and could be re-sold at will.  But the 9th Circuit took the side of the software companies, and concluded that these transfers were actually licenses, and could thus be construed to restrict resale.  This is important for everyone because it means that software developers may be able to more effectively halt the resale of “used” products.

–Yes, you can apparently use Google to check out potential jurors during voire dire

— Geolocation data is subject to 4th Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure, at least according to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

–And, in case you were wondering, jurors really shouldn’t be using social media tools to announce their verdicts.