December 2008

There is certainly a value to social networking websites. Some serve professional networking purposes (such as LinkedIn). And others, like Facebook, have proved to be an effective means of connecting with old friends (for me, including ones I’d lost touch with completely).

It’s not news that we use these websites at our own peril. But here’s a couple of more reasons to be wary, both legal and technical.

A new Facebook notification? “You’ve been served!”

In what seems to be a legal first, a judge of the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court has upheld the right of lawyers to serve legally binding court documents and notices by posting them on defendants’ Facebook sites.

Plaintiff MKM Capital applied to Master David Harper of the Supreme Court to use Facebook to serve notice of a judgment on two borrowers who had defaulted on a loan. The defendants had failed to repay a loan of $150,000 they borrowed from MKM last year to refinance their mortgage. After being granted a default judgment for the loan amount and for possession of the house after the couple failed to appear in court to defend the action, MKM then had to locate the defendants and serve them with the papers.

After hiring private investigators and 11 failed attempts to find the couple, the lawyers identified the Facebook profiles of the defendants, convinced the court that those profiles did in fact belong to the couple, and satisfied the court that communication through their Facebook pages was a sufficient means of communicating with the defendants.


It was just a matter of time before social networking websites became infected with computer viruses. And now it’s happened: Koobface, a Trojan worm, has been making its way through Facebook and to other social networking websites. The worm generates profile comments that encourage users to click through to an external website that pretends to offer a video to view, but then says that an upgrade of Adobe Flash is necessary first. Users who click on the “install” button infect their computer with the virus. The result? Enabling identity theft and click fraud.

Wonderful post from Professor Mark Davison on the Australian Trade Marks Blog. ‘Nuff said.

Does this site strike anyone else as, well, just a bit dodgy? “International validity for a lifetime”???

I’m very sad to hear of the death of Sir Hugh Laddie. Tributes are pouring in, of course. I’ll remember him for the 1995 Stephen Stewart lecture, “Copyright, Over-Strength, Over-Regulated, Over-Rated,” 18 E.I.PR. 253 (1996) – I read it the same year I first studied copyright, and it’s influenced my thinking ever since. His Modern Law of Copyright and Designs, too, is a constant standby when I teach: wonderful for its teasing out of the implications of rules through hypotheticals, cases, and more cases. He was a bold thinker, never cowed by IP orthodoxy (or the ECJ for that matter), and never shying away from the need for a strong, sensible IP system. He has been respected by all sides in the IP world – no mean feat in itself. He will be very much missed.

The IPKat has its own tribute; as does the IAM Blog and Howard Knopf, but for a sense of the man, you might want to look at Patry’s older post on his conversation with Sir Hugh after his decision to retire from the bench.

Update: Bill Patry’s heartfelt tribute.