Court Ruling Protects Consumers and Competition

Type: Brief, News Item
Year: 2004

In a case of first impression, the Federal Circuit rejected a consumer manufacturer of garage door opener’s effort to employ a controversial section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the anti-circumvention provisions (1201), to distort the market by employing computer code to lock-in consumers and lock-out aftermarket competition. The DMCA was passed in 1998 to stop mass copyright infringement on the Internet, but some companies have gone beyond this purpose and invoked its controversial “anti-circumvention” provisions to stifle competition.

Law student interns and faculty in the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic at Boalt Hall, School of Law ,authored and submitted briefs on behalf of Consumers Union to the lower federal court and the International Trade Commission in this case to defend consumer rights and the competitive marketplace. Law student intern Will DeVries presented the Consumers Union’s position at oral argument in the lower court and worked on the brief. Law student interns Amalie Weber and Milena Spencer worked on the briefs. The clinic and Jason Shultz at the Electronic Frontier Foundation authored the brief in the Federal Circuit. Boalt Hall alumnus Ethan Andelman participated with the clinic on the brief.