“Jdate’s parent company, Spark Networks, discreetly filed a lawsuit late last year against Jswipe, the ‘Tinder for Jews’ dating app, claiming intellectual property over the letter “J” within the Jewish dating scene (the company refers to the branding as the ‘J-family’). … [But there are] more Jewish apps that start with the letter ‘J’ than New York school closings on Rosh Hashanah.” [Gregory Ferenstein]
Businesses have grown dependent on the practice of employees’ using their own mobile devices in the workplace and for work. Yet the legal complications are rising, including a California appellate decision that “reaffirmed employer obligations to reimburse employees for work related mobile usage on personal devices.” In part because there is no standard metric for breaking down an employee’s data usage bill into work-related and non-work-related portions, it is not easy to attempt tailored reimbursement practices to reflect changing usage: by one estimate, “just the processing of [a manually submitted] expense report alone costs a company between $18 and $29.” As a result, many employers simply settle on a ballpark figure, such as $70/month, as the reimbursement. “If those subsidies were even lightly scrutinized, they’d be deemed, at least partially, an employee benefit subject to taxation to subsidize Netflix and other personal habits.” Add-on services, for a cost, may serve to navigate between the demands of labor regulations on the one hand and tax authorities on the other. [vendor Ben Rotholtz, Forbes]
Patents for mobile technology have been receding somewhat from the sky-high values seen earlier amid intense litigation and legal developments may be among the reasons [Ina Fried, Re/Code]:
Over the past couple of years, more patents are being overturned as part of a more extensive post-grant review process at the patent office. Various court rulings have also made it harder to get injunctions on standards-essential patents. Finally, the Supreme Court set new limits in a key case over software patents, known as the Alice decision.
More on Alice v. CLS Bank here.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau cracks down on “rent-a-D.A.” scheme in which private debt collector acquired right to use prosecutor’s letterhead [Jeff Gelles, Philadelphia Inquirer, earlier here and here]
- What Santa Ana, Calif. cops did “after destroying –- or so they thought –- all the surveillance cameras inside the cannabis shop.” [Orange County Weekly via Radley Balko]
- Maryland reforms mandatory minimums [Scott Shackford/Reason, Sen. Michael Hough/Washington Times]
- Locking up past sex offenders for pre-crime: “Civil Commitment and Civil Liberties” [Cato Unbound with Galen Baughman, David Prescott, Eric Janus, Amanda Pustilnik; Jason Kuznicki, ed.]
- Two strikes and you’re out, Sen. Warren? Or is there some alternative to DPAs/NPAs (deferred prosecution agreements/non-prosecution agreements?) [Scott Greenfield, Simple Justice]
- Covert cellphone tracking: “Baltimore Police Admit Thousands of Stingray Uses” [Adam Bates, Cato, related on Erie County/Buffalo]
- “Citizens face consequences for breaking the law, but those with the power to administer those laws rarely face any.” [Ken White, Popehat] “61% of IRS Employees Who Cheated On Their Taxes Were Allowed To Keep Their Jobs” [Paul Caron, TaxProf]
The Taxi and Limousine Commission of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s New York City administration plans to introduce rules that would fine anyone offering to city residents a taxi smartphone app or update that the commission had not preapproved. Web guys: you’re kidding, right? “We are gravely concerned by the unprecedented decision to subject software available around the world to pre-release review by a city agency” that is itself without expertise in software design, according to the letter, which is signed by Facebook, Google, Twitter, eBay and many other familiar names. [Fox NY, Internet Association letter of distress]
Prison inmate orders attack on guard at guard’s home in Bishopville, South Carolina. Surviving guard Robert Johnson and wife “did not, however, sue the typical defendants – i.e., the shooter or any prison inmate or employee. Rather, the Johnsons sued several cellular phone service providers and owners of cell phone towers. According to the Johnsons, these defendants are liable for Mr. Johnson’s injuries because they were aware that their services facilitated the illegal use of cellphones by prison inmates and yet failed to take steps to curb that use.” [Fourth Circuit opinion in Johnson v. American Towers LLC, et al., affirming district court’s dismissal of claim on the merits]
Updating a post from five years ago (related), a New Mexico appeals court has upheld the dismissal on summary judgment of Arthur Firstenburg’s lawsuit against next-door neighbor Raphaela Monribot for refusing to turn off her cellphone, computer, dimmer switches, and other electronic paraphernalia, which Firstenburg alleged cause him injury because he experiences electromagnetic sensitivity, or EMS, an acute sensitivity to electronic radiation, a condition on which (per the court) he has been drawing Social Security disability payments since 1992. The trial court excluded the proffered testimony of Firstenburg’s expert witnesses on causation; without it, it found that his claims of causation necessarily failed for lack of admissible evidence. More: George Johnson, New York Times.
- Sheldon Silver’s law firm reportedly loses its special status in courts [New York Post] “Ex-congresswoman could get payout from court tied to Silver” [same; former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy]
- “High School Teacher With Fear of Young Children Loses Disability-Bias Case” [EdWeek, h/t @aaronworthing]
- “Worth remembering that, if they had the power in the 1980s, the public health lobby would have forced us to eat a diet they now say is bad.” [Christopher Snowdon, earlier]
- Numbers confirm that AG Eric Holder’s forfeiture reform won’t directly affect great majority of cases [Institute for Justice via Jacob Sullum, earlier]
- Despite curiously thin evidence that they work, bans on texting while driving roll on, including Mississippi [Steve Wilson, Watchdog, thanks for quote, earlier here, etc.] Draft Ohio bill has numerous troubling features, including broad bar on future technologies, vague distraction ban, stiffer penalties without judicial discretion, mandatory court dates for minor offenses [Maggie Thurber, Ohio Watchdog, thanks for quote]
- Cop’s defense in sex assault of teen: he “[had] money problems and a bad guy scared [him]” [Trumbull, Ct.; Scott Greenfield, Connecticut Post]
- “Dance like no one is watching; email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition.” [Olivia Nuzzi]