Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts

Volume 10  | Spring 2015  | Number 4

Markman Twenty Years Later: Twenty Years of Unintended Consequences

Jerry A. Riedinger
10 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  249

7/3/2015

Intellectual Property

The Federal Circuit’s Markman decision removed juries from the claim interpretation process, thereby revolutionizing patent law. Designed to provide greater certainty and predictability, Markman nevertheless produced unintended consequences, increasing ambiguity and complexity. By declaring claim interpretation an entirely legal issue, the Federal Circuit imposed intricate and even contradictory rules, many resulting from the Federal Circuit’s long insistence that no issues of fact existed, so that claim construction was entirely subject to de novo review. The uncertainty was compounded by rules focused on semantic quibbles unrelated to what was invented. Increased burdens and continuing uncertainty followed.

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The Other Side of the Coin: The FEC’s Move to Approve Cryptocurrency’s Use and Deny Its Viability

Juliya Ziskina
10 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  305

7/3/2015

Constitutional & Regulatory

This Article examines the implications of the Federal Election Committee’s May 2014 advisory opinion on cryptocurrency’s viability within campaign finance regulation, and U.S. financial regulation more generally. Although the Commissioners sharply disagreed on whether Bitcoin is a cash or in-kind contribution, they voted unanimously to allow political committees to accept Bitcoin donations. Moreover, all the Commissioners agreed that Bitcoin donors must disclose their names, addresses, and occupations. While many view this decision as pushing Bitcoin and cryptocurrency further toward legitimacy, in actuality it undermines one of cryptocurrency’s distinct functionalities: pseudonymity. Paradoxically, while it approves the use of Bitcoin in campaign finance, the FEC ruling impairs cryptocurrency’s future within financial regulatory schemes.

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Travelers Beware: Tort Liability in the Sharing Economy

Talia Loucks
10 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  329

7/3/2015

Corporate & Commercial

Participation in the sharing economy makes consumers’ lives easier. From the rental of a house or room via room share sites like Airbnb to getting a ride around the city using rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft, travelers have found less traditional and more affordable ways to explore. With these innovations, however, come risks for users. For example, Airbnb hosts do not owe guests the same duties as a hotel operator. Additionally, drivers’ insurance policies may not apply when operating for profit through a rideshare program. This Article examines the current liability issues that arise in the sharing economy. The law lacks clear, uniform guidance, as each city and state chooses to treat these companies differently. Because of this, sharing economy participants must be aware of the potential liability faced in a rapidly growing economy where the law is playing catch-up.

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Drone Drain: How the FAA Can Avoid Draining (and Instead Spur) the American Drone Industry by Adding Nuance to its Draft Small UAS Rules

Brooks Lindsay
10 Wash. J.L. Tech. & Arts  343

7/3/2015

Constitutional & Regulatory

The Federal Aviation Administration has done much right in the past few months with its draft small UAS rules, but should add nuance to the draft to avoid draining America’s nascent drone industry. This Article, which was submitted as an official comment to the FAA by the University of Washington’s world-renowned College of Engineering, recommends five essential modifications to enable American competitiveness in this field. First, the FAA should maintain the line-of-sight requirement as a baseline, but allow uses beyond line-of-sight for pilots and aircraft certified to fly with First-Person View or autonomous technology. Second, the FAA should create exceptions to the largely sensible 500-feet ceiling for Small UAS flight, particularly in areas with few low-flying passenger aircraft, and adopt a licensing and certification process for advanced pilots and drones to fly above 500 feet. Third, the FAA should adopt proposed, more relaxed rules for Micro UAS weighing less than 4.4 pounds because different drones present different risks and so should be regulated differently. Fourth, the FAA should adopt an enabling philosophy toward drones, acknowledging that their immense economic potential justifies taking manageable safety risks. Fifth, the FAA should actively grant exemptions to the civil ban in the interim of permanent rules, testing drones in society and allowing the FAA to hone the draft rules before they are made permanent in 2017. If the FAA implements these recommendations, it will provide America’s emerging drone industry the breathing room to innovative, grow, and compete on the global stage.

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