Kim Dotcom, the founder of the defunct file-storage company Megaupload Ltd., appealed a decision to let the Justice Department seize assets outside the U.S. without a hearing, and prior to a criminal trial on the merits.
The U.S. seized “millions of dollars of real and personal property” overseas without a civil hearing about the seizure and before a trial on the question of guilt in the criminal case against Dotcom, according to papers filed with the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia.
Dotcom was indicted in in 2012. The U.S. accused him of piracy, money laundering, racketeering and wire fraud through Megaupload.com, which was closed after a police raid on his home. Dotcom, who lives in New Zealand, has asked local courts to delay his extradition.
The order allowing the seizure should be reversed because the Virginia district court lacked jurisdiction over the assets, since they weren’t in the U.S., Dotcom said.
Even if the court had jurisdiction over the assets, it was still wrong to allow the forfeiture without a hearing first.
By applying a federal statute that allows civil forfeiture, known as the fugitive disentitlement doctrine, the district court denied Dotcom his due process rights and committed a reversible error because the Justice Department didn’t prove he was “avoiding prosecution,” which must be shown before the statute can apply, he argued.
Dotcom brought the appeal of the civil asset forfeiture order together with his companies, whose assets were also seized.
“The Justice Department, in our view, is trying to abuse the fugitive disentitlement doctrine by modifying it into an offensive weapon of asset forfeiture to punish those who fight extradition under lawful treaties,” said Ira Rothken, a lawyer for Dotcom in the U.S.
Dotcom is still in Auckland, where he has won delays in extradition from local courts. The extradition hearing is set to begin Sept. 21, according Rothken. That date could change, he said.
“The assets in the civil forfeiture action are the proceeds and property traceable to offenses” charged in the indictment against Dotcom and his co-conspirators, the Justice Department said in a filing. As to his fugitive status, Dotcom “cannot dispute that he is free at any time to submit to U.S. jurisdiction,” the Justice Department said in a filing.
Nicole A. Navas, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment beyond the court filings.
Amazon Patents Aid Speech Recognition and Detect Phone Theft
Amazon.com Inc. was granted patents Tuesday for inventions that make speaking to a computer more efficient and let people know sooner about a stolen mobile device, according the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
In all, Amazon was granted 22 patents on Tuesday, latestpatents.com reported on its website.
The distributed automated speech recognition system, or ASR, (9,070,367) is essentially an improved way of talking to a computer. It’s sometimes desirable to divide ASR tasks between local and remote devices because the latter may have more computing power, but local devices may be able to return results to a user faster, according to a Patent Office filing.
“To take advantage of a divided ASR system, a local device may identify and perform local ASR processing on frequently used phrases or words in an audio signal and transmit the audio signal to another device or system for ASR processing when the local device does not recognize” the words, according to the filing.
The inventors are Bjorn Hoffmeister and Jeffrey O’Neill. Amazon Technologies Inc. is assignee of the patent.
Amazon also was granted patent 9,069,994 for an alerting method and system to let the owner of a mobile device, such as a phone, book reader or portable media player, know it’s been stolen.
The device can determine on its own that it has been pilfered and demand authentication from a user. If it’s not satisfied, the device generates an audible alert. It can also be notified by a server that it has been stolen and then generate an audible alert.
The inventor is William Alexander Strand.
The patents also include one for a host-managed gift card program (9,070,122) and sharing wireless credentials or passwords (9,071,967).
For more patent news, click here.
Sony Blocks Beatles ‘Lost’ Concert Film in U.K. Copyright Case
Sony Corp. won a U.K. court ruling blocking a documentary-maker from showing a movie about the Beatles’ first concert in the U.S.
The film by WPMC Ltd. about the 1964 performance in Washington called “The Beatles: The Lost Concert” infringed Sony’s copyrights in both countries, according to a ruling in London Wednesday. Sony owns the worldwide copyrights to eight songs in the concert, including “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Judge Richard Arnold said.
The concert, shown in cinemas and theaters across America as part of a 90-minute package with performances by the Beach Boys and Lesley Gore, took place a few months after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and helped spark “Beatlemania” in the U.S. What happened to the master tapes after the show “is unclear,” Arnold said.
Calls to Sony and lawyers for the company and WPMC weren’t immediately returned.
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YouTube Loses Copyright Case in Germany, Reuters Says
A court in Germany ruled Wednesday that Google Inc.’s YouTube video-sharing platform must take down copyright infringing content when it becomes aware of it, Reuters reported.
YouTube doesn’t have an affirmative duty to search for infringing content, the court decided in the case, which was brought by Gema, a performing rights organization in Germany. Nonetheless, once YouTube is aware the law has been violated, it must not only remove the material, but also take precautions to avoid further infringement, according to the ruling, Reuters said.
The Regional Court of Hamburg rejected appeals by both Gema and YouTube.
A spokesman said Google will wait for publication of the full decision before deciding whether to appeal, according to the newspaper.
For more copyright news, click here.
Canadian Competition Bureau Releases Draft IP Guidelines
The Canadian Competition Bureau has released draft guidelines on what kind of conduct involving intellectual property will run afoul of competition rules.
“Given the importance of intellectual property, there is a risk that it may be used strategically to lessen or prevent competition,” the bureau said in the draft.
The proposed guidelines focus on two areas to be considered under Canada’s Competition Act. The first is agreements or arrangements between independent entities that impede competition in the marketplace. The second is situations in which a dominant owner uses intellectual property rights in a way that prevents others from competing.
The guidelines are part of a public consultation through August 10.