2015 Florida Legislation Summary

Following up on our successful meeting at the annual meeting, Robert Kain was kind enough to share the legislative summary he authored for distribution to the committee. The summary includes descriptions of the following statutes adopted in the 2015 Session, which are likeley to be of note to Florida IP practitioners:

A. SLAPP: Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (SLAPP lawsuits). CS/HB 1041, Fla.Stat. § 768.295, effective July 1, 2015.

B. The Patent Troll Prevention Act, CS/CS/CS/HB 439, Fla.Stat. § 501.991, effective July 1, 2015.

C. True Origins of Digital Goods Act, CS/CS/HB 271 – Florida Statute 501.155, effective July 1, 2015.

D. The Computer Abuse and Data Recovery Act, CS/CS/CS/SB 222, Fla.Stat. § 668.801 (“CADRA”), effective October 1, 2015.

E. Freedom from Unwarranted Surveillance Act, CS/CS/SB 766, Fla.Stat. § 934.50, effective July 1, 2015.

Download the entire summary here. Thank you, Robert!

Florida’s Idea Statute of Frauds

Florida Statute § 501.972 serves as a statute of frauds of sorts for disputes arising out of using someone else’s idea.  While many may not have  heard of this statute before, the first Court opinion dealing with it was released from the Middle District of Florida last week.  The statute itself provides :

501. 972   Actions based upon use of a creation that is not protected under federal copyright law. 

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), the use of an idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, discovery, thought, or other creation that is not a work of authorship protected under federal copyright law does not give rise to a claim or cause of action, in law or in equity, unless the parties to the claim or cause of action have executed a writing sufficient to indicate that a contract has been made between them governing such use.

(2) Subsection (1) does not affect or limit:

(a) Any cause of action based in copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret; or

(b) Any defense raised in connection with a cause of action described in paragraph (2).

An engineer sued BP, claiming BP had used a couple of the engineer’s ideas in trying to stop the oil leak after the Deepwater explosion.  BP sought summary judgment under this Florida Statute, arguing there was no writing signed by BP, and thus the Plaintiff had no claim.  The Court agreed, granting summary judgment to BP.

I’ve written more about it here.  The case is Kaminski v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., Case No. 8:12-cv-826 (M.D. Fla. Sept. 24, 2013) (J. Bucklew).

Prefiled bills of potential interest to IP lawyers in Florida

Our faithful Business Law Section lobbyist Bill Wiley reports that the following bills may be of interest to Florida IP lawyers.  Plan to discuss them at our upcoming meeting Thursday, January 21st in Orlando.

S586 GENERAL BILL by Fasano (Similar H 0279)

Data Destruction [CPSC]; Provides definitions. Requires all public agencies and private entities that collect personal information to adhere to the procedures provided in the National Institute of Standards and Technology “Guidelines for Media Sanitization” when destroying such information, etc.

S310 PUBLIC RECORDS/GENERAL BILL by Dockery

Pub. Rec./Proprietary Confidential Business Info. [CPSC];  Provides that proprietary confidential business information held by an agency is confidential and exempt from public records requirements. Authorizes any person to petition a court for the public release of those portions of a record made confidential and exempt by the act. Provides that the act does not supersede any other applicable public records exemptions that existed before a certain date, etc.

Roblor v. GPS Inds., et al. – Internet Personal Jurisdiction in Florida

Magistrate Torres recently issued a Report and Recommendation in a Southern District patent case dealing with personal jurisdiction exclusively premised on the Defendant’s website.  The Magistrate utilized, with reservations, the widely adopted Zippo Mfg. v. Zippo Dot Com, Inc., 952 F.Supp. 1119 (W.D.Pa. 1997) “sliding scale” test to determine that the defendant’s website was “interactive” where it merely provided links to resellers and distributors of accused products but allowed users to create an account to download software for use with the accused products.

The Court acknowledged that the Federal Circuit has not yet addressed the Zippo rationale but that several other circuits (3rd, 4th, 5th , 6th, 8th ,and 9th ) had adopted it to some extent.  The Court also acknowledged that the 11th Circuit was split on the adoption of Zippo and joined in the criticism of Zippo, cautioning against over-reliance on the level of website interactivity in deciding jurisdictional question.  Ultimately, the Magistrate refused to hold the outcome of the Zippo analysis dispositive, but found through a more traditional analysis that there were insufficient contacts between the Defendant and Florida and recommended granting the motion to dismiss.

Interestingly, the court referenced a click-wrap agreement that contained exclusive venue/jurisdiction provisions in its reasoning.  The Court held that although the agreement could not bind the Plaintiff, it “nevertheless shows Intelligolf’s intention not to avail itself of a jurisdiction based on the use of the accounts other than in the state of California.”

In sum, this Report and Recommendation presents an excellent exposition of the status of Zippo and generally of website jurisdiction in Florida Federal courts.

By the way, congratulations to Jeffrey Kamenetsky who represents the prevailing Defendant.