Posts Tagged ‘internet’

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Danie Roy

Before we begin, I’d like to make some statements that you may remember from when I discussed embryonic stem cells: this article is largely meant to be informative, although it is very difficult to stay completely unbiased when I am informing you about the opinions of other people. I apologize in advance if my own opinion shines through too brightly, largely because this seems to be an issue that is polarizing people more than stem cells ever could. Add the previous sentence to the list of things I never thought I’d say. Then again, this is the internet.

By now, you’re probably aware that you can’t access Wikipedia or Craigslist as you normally would. You’ve gone to see teh lolcats or hang with your bronies, and you’ve been greeted with a popup begging you to take action. The Google doodle is now a black box. Even the news stations are talking about the sites going down. What’s going on? Just a preview of what could happen if SOPA and PIPA pass in their current forms.

SOPA and PIPA are bills in the House of Representatives and Senate, respectively, that were intended to stop online piracy from overseas sites like The Pirate Bay. Currently, nobody can touch The Pirate Bay, as evidenced by their response letters (or, as Scott called them, f/u letters). The language of the bills is entirely too broad, however, and reeks slightly of “did not do the research.” For instance, you don’t have to infringe to be taken down, you just need to be capable of infringing: that is, have a comment box, text, links, a link to someone else’s link, etc. And you may be guilty until proven innocent.

These are popping up everywhere today.

I’ll be the first to admit that most people have no idea what’s going on in Congress most of the time. I personally would rather read image file wrappers, watch paint dry, or have a root canal than watch C-SPAN. It’s boring, and in a language called “legalese.” Great for curing insomnia, though.

Before I get too far into this, I’m going to be perfectly clear: I am FOR protecting intellectual property. I’d be an out-of-work hypocrite if I wasn’t; protecting intellectual property is my job as a patent agent. However, I personally believe that SOPA and PIPA can’t protect intellectual property in their current forms.

Here’s why people are protesting and your favorite sites are dark:

  • A site does not necessarily have to infringe to be taken down. A site that could infringe, in other words, has a comment box, links, or any upload capability, can be targeted.
  • If you’ve been accused, there is no real defense: you’re assumed guilty until proven innocent, and the bill makes proving yourself innocent extremely difficult. In order to be innocent, your website must not have the functionality to infringe; which of course, all websites have. So, you’re either infringing or you’re perjuring yourself. Take your pick.
  • Takedowns are incredibly easy to initiate. The RIAA already has a history of using questionably ethical legal tactics to take out legitimate businesses. Imagine what they can do with SOPA and PIPA on their side.
  • Ever posted anything to any website? YouTube, ICanHasCheezburger?, even Facebook? Yep, you’re a potential target.
  • Ever used Gmail, Yahoo! mail, or AOL mail? Same deal.
  • Fair use will be practically considered obsolete… and ignorance will not be a defense.
  • Anyone working for the government (like our wonderful Congresspeople) is immune from the consequences of violating SOPA and PIPA.
  • The link I posted to the f/u letters? That could be a violation of SOPA/PIPA, due to The Pirate Bay’s unsavory activities.
  • Earlier versions (and possibly later versions) allowed for destabilizing the infrastructure of the internet in order to “protect” IP. That is, addresses could be removed from the universal internet lookup system, DNS, which would make site spoofing that much easier… hello viruses and stolen personal info!

To quote a godly entity, you “should pretend like it is a big deal, because it is.” Whether you’re for or against SOPA/PIPA, you really need to speak up about this issue. It affects the internet as we know it, and it affects intellectual property, too. If you’re like me, you’re for protecting intellectual property, but against seriously inhibiting the free flow of the internet.

To read more:
Tim O’Reilly’s thoughts (with some from Nancy Pelosi)

Wikipedia’s two working English pages: SOPA and PIPA

LA Times: Three congresspeople drop support, including FL Senator Marco Rubio

PCWorld’s rather factual take

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Danie Roy

Seems like not a day goes by that we don’t hear about a certain patent troll named Lodsys anymore.  On the internet, if you ignore the trolls, they go away, but in the IP world… you can’t do anything without feeding them.

Anyway, it seems as though Lodsys has added Rovio Mobile, the makers of Angry Birds, (among other successful larger game developers) to the list of people it’s suing.  Classy, no?

I know there’s going to be someone out there going “YEAAAAAAH STICK IT TO THE MAAAAAN GAMES SHOULD BE FREEEEE,” but they’re horribly horribly wrong.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I have a minor addiction to playing the freebie flash games that are offered online, but, seriously, complaining about paying less than $10 for a game you’ll probably get more hours of playtime from than a $60 shooter you’re only going to play when your buddies are over?  Someone actually did work to make that game, and they ought to be paid.  Even sites that offer freebies have compensation systems in place.

With litigation pending from Lodsys, though, companies are going to be dumping all that money into lawsuits that may or may not protect them in the end.  You know, instead of giving that money to the programmers and developing teams so that they can make more games.

If you want to help the people that actually do work beat the bloodsuckers, Gene Quinn has a pretty spectacular brief and some links to people who have a stronger dislike of patent trolls than most.

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Scott Nyman

When speaking with potential client, I often get asked, “So why shouldn’t I just use a service like LegalZoom?” This is a big question, and requires a big answer. So big, in fact, that I will answer this question in a series of articles over the next couple weeks.

In this series of articles, I will discuss what online legal document generation services really provide its customers. I will compare the document generation services, such as LegalZoom, to the hiring of a Bar licensed attorney. I will cover these differences in five topics based articles: 1) the service provided; 2) the work product; 3) the guarantee (or lack thereof); 4) the value; and, since I deal with patents and other intellectual property, 5) using sites such as LegalZoom for patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

And before you bring it up, yes, I am a lawyer and I do make a living by providing legal services to (paying) clients. However, I only provide my services to advise clients that will benefit legal representation. If a person isn’t ready for a patent, or if they are trying to patent the common fork, I will inform them that they do not yet require the services of a patent attorney.

Without any further introduction, let’s start the discussion and comparison of the services rendered by online legal document generation services versus that of an attorney.

So, what to you get when you hire an attorney?

First, you get a licensed professional that has dedicated a large part of his or her life learning the law as it relates his or her area of practice. If the attorney does not fully know the particular law as it may apply to your individual legal issue (and there are a lot of laws), he or she will have the skill to research the law for an answer. The attorney will likely also review Court decisions and treatises to ensure the answers found are still the law, as they have interpreted by the courts.

Second, when hiring an attorney, you get a human being that is capable of listening to the facts regarding your specific legal matter, apply those facts to the law, critically analyze your facts at they apply to the law, and come to a legal conclusion, from which they may advise the client. As a bonus, conversations between you and your attorney are protected by the attorney-client privilege, unless that privilege is waived by the client (please, don’t post details about your legal matter on Facebook!!!).

Third, when hiring an experienced attorney, you get a person with insight on how a case or procedure will likely play out. For example, when applying for a patent, you will likely receive a first office action from the USPTO rejecting your patent on obviousness. An experienced patent attorney will expect this and, due to his experience dealing with patent Examiners, be able to submit an argument to the Examiner that may likely overcome the rejection. This is why experienced attorneys typically charge more.

Fourth, as an attorney creates your legal documents, he or she is likely to be continually thinking “how can I make this document withstand a challenge in the courts by another party.” For example, when I am drafting a patent application for a client, I always consider how a litigator would try to invalidate or claim non-infringement on my patent. With those considerations, I tighten or broaden the document where necessary. It would be a shame to lose a multi-million dollar patent infringement lawsuit because you claimed a square peg, the defendant argues their peg is more “diamondish,” and prosecution history estoppel is preventing you from being protected under the doctrine equivalents (see Festo Corp. v Shoketsu Kinzoku Kogyo Kabushiki Co., 535 U.S. 722).

So, had enough on why lawyers are great? What do you get with an online legal document generation services, such as LegalZoom? To avoid appearing biased, I am just going to quote from terms and conditions of the most popular online legal document generation service, LegalZoom (http://www.legalzoom.com/terms-of-use.html).

LegalZoom.com provides an online legal portal to give visitors a general understanding of the law and to provide an automated software solution to individuals who choose to prepare their own legal documents. To that extent, the Site includes general information on commonly encountered legal issues. LegalZoom’s Services also include a review of your answers for completeness, spelling and grammar, and for internal consistency of names, addresses and the like. At no time do we review your answers for legal sufficiency, draw legal conclusions, provide legal advice or apply the law to the facts of your particular situation. LegalZoom and its Services are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney.

LegalZoom strives to keep its legal documents accurate, current and up-to-date. However, because the law changes rapidly, LegalZoom cannot guarantee that all of the information on the Site is completely current. The law is different from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, and may be subject to interpretation by different courts. The law is a personal matter, and no general information or legal tool like the kind LegalZoom provides can fit every circumstance. Furthermore, the legal information contained on the Site is not legal advice and is not guaranteed to be correct, complete or up-to-date. Therefore, if you need legal advice for your specific problem, or if your specific problem is too complex to be addressed by our tools, you should consult a licensed attorney in your area.

This Site is not intended to create any attorney-client relationship, and your use of LegalZoom does not and will not create an attorney-client relationship between you and LegalZoom. Instead, you are and will be representing yourself in any legal matter you undertake through LegalZoom’s legal document service.

And my personal favorite (which is has parts removed for emphasis):

LEGALZOOM MAKES NO WARRANTY THAT … THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE SITE, OR ANY MATERIALS OFFERED THROUGH THE SITE, WILL BE ACCURATE OR RELIABLE.

I will let you draw your own conclusions.

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By Scott Nyman

I'm calling it! This will be the" World Flag" in ten years.

Over a year ago, Google announced that it would build a fiber optic data network in one lucky city capable of providing 1 Gbps downloading bandwidth (source). That’s 1,000 Mbps to all you non-nerds out there, and should be 1024 Mbps (2^10 bps), as all the nerds will tell you. I should know, I’m a nerd myself. But, no matter what side of the nerd fence you sit on, that 1 Gbps internet connection feeding internet at over 19 Million times faster than a 56K modem is drool-worthy.

Now a year later, the results are in! Congratulations to Kansas City, KS (that’s Kansas, not Missouri). Over 1,100 towns and cities had submitted pleas to become Google’s experimental hotbed of internet connectivity goodness. Although only one was selected in this round, Google’s Milo Medin has stated, “…today is the start, not the end of the project. And over the coming months, we’ll be talking to other interested cities about the possibility of us bringing ultra high-speed broadband to their communities.”

Besides having an absolutely appropriate album cover, Sneaky Sound System produces good music, too.

Those interested in experiencing the benefits of the ultra high-speed internet soon to be experienced by Kansas City would benefit from considering which factors caused the ultimate selection of that city (Hint, hint, Melbourne, FL). The following was posted to Google’s blog:

“In selecting a city, our goal was to find a location where we could build efficiently, make an impact on the community and develop relationships with local government and community organizations. We’ve found this in Kansas City. We’ll be working closely with local organizations including the Kauffman Foundation, KCNext and the University of Kansas Medical Center to help develop the gigabit applications of the future.”

Now I’m just curious to see how many “adult” copyright infringement lawsuits will appear in the U.S. District Court – District of Kansas once the new network becomes live.

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By: Mark R. Malek

According to a story by an Australian publication titled “Business with Wall Street Journal,” Groupon has filed a suit against two Australian brothers that have purchased the domain http://www.groupon.com.au.  As indicated by the Groupon CEO in the article, as Groupon has become more popular, it has also become a target for “opportunistic domain squatters.”

No kidding!  It is almost a guarantee that anytime this set of facts comes up, it will soon be followed by cybersquatting. In other words, if you can name a trademark that became popular almost overnight, I will show you a case of cybersquatting. Cybersquatting occurs when someone registers a domain name that is the trademark (or substantially the trademark) of another.  For example, if I was on top of things way back in the day, I might have been able to register Nike.com.  I’d bet that the good people over at Nike would not have been too happy about it.  However, back then, i.e., when Al Gore first invented the internet (see background on my ongoing joke here), there was not a great deal of cases or legislation that dealt with what eventually became an issue – cybersquatting.  As such, and if I was somehow able to have registered Nike.com, the big plan would have been to somehow make money off of it.  That could be accomplished in one of two ways.  First, I could hold it hostage and wait for Nike to send me a huge paycheck.  Alternately, I could just start engaging in commerce and people who would normally be looking for Nike products would come across my products instead.

As you can imagine, that is not something that powerful companies with expensive trademark portfolios (and money for lobbyists) really liked.  We eventually saw laws and cases that took this type of behavior into account.  That is why we have very clear case law on that which constitutes cybersquatting (apparently called domain squatting in Australia).  The facts that I read in this story seemed pretty dead on, but I do not purport to be an expert on Australian law.

The perplexing thing about this case is that Groupon apparently offered the brothers about $300,000 to resolve the matter and turn over the domain name.  When it was turned down, I suspect that there were a group of people from the business development department at Groupon sitting around and scratching their heads trying to figure out why such an offer was turned down….probably the same way that a similar group at Google has been sitting around a table trying to figure out why Groupon turned down a $6Billion (yes, Billion with a B) offer.


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