HILARY J. SUMNER
Creating Assets from Innovations

LAW OFFICE OF  

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IP In the News

Court Recognizes Orangutan's Rights to Life, Liberty and Freedom

Posted on January 12, 2015 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

A zoo in Buenos Aires was recently ordered to free a 29 year old female orangutan after an Argentine court recognized the animals right to life, liberty and freedom.  This is the first time that a court has recognized such rights in a non-human animal.  CLICK HERE FOR FULL ARTICLE.


Freedom of Speech is not Absolute - Negative Yelp Reviewers are Revealed

Posted on February 7, 2014 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)

While the 9th Circuit recently held that bloggers are protected by freedom of speech, internet reviewers may not enjoy those same freedoms.  The Virginia Court of Appeals recently acknowledged that anonymous speech is protected by the First Amendment but held that where there is a good-faith belief that commercial speech is defamatory, the identity of anonymous reviewers may be revealed.  In this particular case, seven people posted negative reviews of a carpet cleaning business.  The business filed a defamation suit against the seven individuals and issued a subpoena requsting that Yelp reveal the indentity of the seven anonymous reviewers.  Yelp refused but the VA Court of Appeals held that where a reviewer is not a geniune customer of the business it is reviewing, that review is based on a false statement of fact and the reviewer is not entitled to First Amendment protections.  Click here for full article

Predictive Policing and Potential Constitutional Violations

Posted on September 25, 2013 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Some police departments are implementing a crime mapping program that uses criminal data to predict future areas of specific crimes.  A report generated by this software coupled with an officer's observations may be sufficient to stop and search a suspected criminal.  With the advent of real time advertising and now predictive policing, the movie the Minority Report no longer seems to be science fiction.  The privacy and civil liberty concerns raised by this technology will more than certainly result in constitutional challenges. 

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Remote Texter May Be Held Liable for Automobile Accident

Posted on August 30, 2013 at 9:35 PM Comments comments (0)

On Tuesday, a New Jersey appellate court held that an individual who is sending text messages has a duty to suspend those texts to someone who is driving if that texter knows or has reason to know the recipient will look at the message while driving.

Headlight Flashing: Obstruction of Justice or Protected Speech?

Posted on July 21, 2013 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

Michael Elli was ticketed after he flashed his headlight as a warning to oncoming motorists.  The moving violation was later dropped but Elli filed suit against the city of Ellisville, Missouri  claiming that headlight warnings are a form of protected speech. Elli's lawyer is quoted as saying "if communicating the presence of a speed trap with headlamps is the obstruction of justice, then so too is communicating the same message by CB or at the corner gas station." Florida, Tennessee and Utah have also considered this matter; all three states siding with the drivers.  Florida went a step further and lassed a law banning prosecution for flashing headlights.

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Supreme Court Holds That DNA Sampling Prior To Conviction is Lawful

Posted on June 20, 2013 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Maryland has a policy of taking DNA samples from arrested individuals using cheek swabs.  The state compares these samples to cold cases in an attempt to find suspects in unsolved crimes.  The arrested individual generally has no link to the prior case.  Earlier this month the Supreme Court held that such samples do constitute a search but found it to be a minimal "warrantless intrusion and a reasonable exercise of state power." 

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Satellite Navigation Units May Determine Your Insurance Premiums

Posted on February 9, 2012 at 3:40 AM Comments comments (0)

 PC Pro reports that insurance companies are teaming up with GPS providers to find out how you're driving.

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Stop Piracy Act Blackout

Posted on January 17, 2012 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Wikipedia to go dark in protest of Stop Piracy Act:

House bill 3261 is an attempt to strengthen enforcement of existing copyright laws.  If passed, it would allow the Dept. of Justice and any legitimate copyright holders to seek equitable relief against any website accused of facilitating copyright infringement. 

While many argue that the legislation is aimed at protecting valuable IP rights, there are questions as to whether the law would violate the First Amendment.  Others are concerned that providers, fearing repercussions, may censor or water down content that is currently available.