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Mozilla v. FCC, The New Net Neutrality Case

By: Daniel Norton

On February 1st, 2019, the D.C. Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in the case Mozilla Corp. v. FCC. The premise of the case is that Mozilla, and several other interested parties, have sued the FCC over the Restoring Internet Freedom Order’s reclassification of internet services as information services rather than telecommunications services under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. A telecommunications service is one that transmits unaltered information while an information service is used for “generating, acquiring, storing, transforming, processing, retrieving, utilizing, or making available information.” This classification is important as the D.C. Court of Appeals has held that the FCC cannot enforce net neutrality against Internet Access Providers if they are classified as telecommunications services, but they can if the IAPs are classified as telecommunications services. The 2015 Open Internet Order classified IAPs services to be telecommunications while the 2017 Restoring Internet Freedom Order reclassified IAPs services as information services. Continue reading »

Symposium Spotlight: Jeff Ward

By: Daniel Norton

Jeff Ward is the Associate Dean for Technology & Innovation at Duke University School of Law as well as the Director of the University’s Center on Law & Technology (DCLT). As part of the DCLT, Jeff oversees the Duke Law Tech Lab, a program that advises legal technology start-up companies about legal topics including, but not limited to intellectual property protection and licensing, and commercialization’s strategies. Jeff’s goal for the DCLT is to bridge the access-to-justice gap by guiding legal technology entrepreneurs to address areas the law has typically underserved. To that end, Jeff has organized competitions for legal tech start-ups for the past two years whereby the start-ups compete for funding by participating in an acceleration program before presenting their business pitch to a panel of judges. The winner of the most recent competition was the start-up company Hello Divorce which aims to serve the 85%of people who do not have legal representation in divorce proceedings.

Jeff also oversees the Access Tech Tools initiative which encourages participants to utilize human centered design thinking concerning developing legal technologies. An example of this encouragement was Big Ideas: Designing Creative Legal Solutions for a Better Tomorrow. This was a class Jeff offered in October to the community encouraging participants to think of alternative billing models for lawyers than the traditional hourly rates. The class was attended by law school students, entrepreneurs, professors, and attorneys with decades of experience.

In addition to his other responsibilities, Jeff also teaches classes Law & Policy Lab: Blockchain and Frontier Robotics & AI: Law & Ethics at Duke University School of Law. Outside of his positions with Duke, Jeff continues to run his own law practice which counsels start-up companies.

Jeff will be speaking from 10:40 am to 12:10 pm on the Legal Design panel with Vanderbilt Professor Cat Moon and moderated by Raina Haque.

The Conflict Between 3D Printing and Patent Law

By: Daniel Norton

zmorph-multitool-3d-printer-1221521-unsplashIn the past, science fiction books and television shows toyed with the idea of “replicators” and “matter compilers.” The idea was that people would be able to produce the tools or objects they needed in any given situation from the comforts of their own homes or starships. Mere decades after this idea was considered a fantasy it has become a reality as Americans have increasingly begun using 3D printers to create tools and objects they need from the comfort of their own homes. But the advent of 3D printers has not brought about the utopian freedoms things like Star Trek indicated. Instead, 3D printing technology has created entirely new challenges for the US patent system to grapple with.

The creation of an object using 3D printing is known as additive manufacturing. This process involves a 3D printer applying a given material in thin layers on top of each other to create an object dictated to it by a computer-aided design (CAD) file. While this ability was first created in the 1980s, it has exploded in popularity over the past few years due to the advent of “home” 3D printers. Continue reading »