From The Patent Protection Racket: “Sorry. Life is a bit hard sometimes, and sometimes you have to step up and fight fights that you never signed up for“. Oh, and there is also loud rally cry to fight patent trolls, with the EFF and the Application Developers Alliance…
Archive for the ‘Patents, IP, Privacy and More’ Category
A month ago, I mentioned the appeal by the Python Software Foundation to help them defend the name “Python”. The good news is that both sides came to an amicable agreement: PO Box Hosting Limited (trading as Veber) will rebrand its services later under a yet to be determined name.
In the words of the Chairman of the PSF: “To Veber’s credit, they were willing to recognize the Python brand without protracted negotiations. We are grateful for Veber’s support and we wish them luck in their business“. I agree: it’s good to see that a dispute like this can be resolved amicably in just a few weeks, without having to go to court.
Do you mind giving away an increasing amount of information about yourself to an increasing number of companies and governemental agencies? I do, but it’s not always easy to explain why privacy has a value that should not (only) be measured in economic terms.
The Atlantic previews an upcoming Harvard Law Review paper by Julie Cohen, titled: “What Privacy Is For“.
…[Privacy] is better understood as an important buffer that gives us space to develop an identity that is somewhat separate from the surveillance, judgment, and values of our society and culture. Privacy is crucial for helping us manage all of these pressures — pressures that shape the type of person we are — and for “creating spaces for play and the work of self-[development]“…
You’ll find the original paper on the SSRN website (which runs on ColdFusion, by the way ;-) at the address <http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2175406> It’s not an easy text, written by an academic and using a lot of terms that may well have a different meaning in a European context. But who said life is easy?
I suppose we should be happy for Evernote to react so promptly and decisively, but here in Europe it makes for a lousy start of what is supposed to become a beautiful spring day: “Evernote resets user passwords after being hit by “coordinated” hack“.
Here’s another strange thing: although everyone agrees that you should not reset passwords by clicking on links in emails, the email warning from Evernote contained several links that could be interpreted as such. And those links are pointing to a server called ‘
links.evernote.mkt5371.com‘… That made a suspicious at first, until I saw the story repeated on several news sites. Oh well – my password is changed; let’s hope Evernote strengthens its defenses against hackers!
The first paragraph of a TechRadar article called “The world of patents explained: how they affect what you buy. A complete guide to patent laws and effects” made me chuckle:
The world of men is broken. They file and get patents for unimaginably trivial things in the name of driving innovation. The time of the Elves is ending. Or so we imagine Lord Elrond might react to the way things are now.
That was good enough to continue reading… and that turned out to be an excellent idea. Having written and opined about patents in the past, I must admit that I did not know the exact definitions nor the subtle differences between European and US patents. I have learned a lot from this text – and now I’m even more convinced that the patent wars of the last decennium are an enormous waste of time and resources for all concerned (except the lawyers, of course).
It’s all here: “Python trademark at risk in Europe: We need your help!“. I have no materials to submit, but I can tell you that my first mention of Python (actually, it was JPython) on this very blog dates back to November 2000…
There’s more than enough censorship in the world these days, and the Internet is not free from it either. We all know the countries that do not allow their residents to see and use all of the Internet. Luckily, there are solutions for those that want to bypass the censor. One of these solutions is “Scotty“. In the words of its creators: by using a local proxy app and a dedicated server, “the communication between the scotty proxy and the scotty gateway is encrypted and uses a simple HTTP connection“. It probably requires a bit of technical skills to install, especially the server part, but otherwise looks like a neat solution to a problem we all may face some day.
PS. Don’t tell me I shouldn’t promote such software, since it might (will!) be used by criminals for whatever it is they want to do. Software products are tools, and like any other tool they can be used and abused…
It’s good to see that more and more people are rethinking the (American) patent system. Not just hackers and download junkies, that is, but scholars as well. As an example, check out the writings of economist Gary Becker and judge Richard Posner on their common blog. Posner asks the question: “Do patent and copyright law restrict competition and creativity excessively?” and concludes that “major reforms are necessary“…
We should not forget, however, that patents have been diagnosed as harmful a long time ago: “The various harmful effects of the patent and copyright systems encouraged Arnold Plant, an English economist, to publish over 75 years ago two influential articles on why England and other countries would be better off without patents and copyrights” (in the words of Becker)… But let’s not get ahead of ourselves: patents have gone global, and all those countries aren’t going to change their system overnight!
PS. I found the references to this discussion in the German news story “US-Richter fordert Reform des Patent- und des Copyright-Systems“.
Here’s a clear and relevant text to explain how silly the patent wars in the smartphone business really are: “Apple’s ’647 Patent: What It Is and Why it’s Bad for the Mobile Ecosystem“. To sum it up: “The lawyers and their bank accounts, by proxy, are really the only winners“…
There’s still room for more arrows in this infographic – and I’m sure lawyers will find a way to make those missing arrows happen. Is this supposed to bring innovation and progress?
The Fight for the Future website says it better than I could, so head over there and watch their video if you don’t know what the proposed legislation in the USA (PROTECT-IP and SOPA) could do to the Internet as a whole. Or read CMSWire’s “Why We’re Against SOPA“, or Lifehacker’s “All About SOPA, the Bill That Wants to Cripple Your Internet Very Soon“.
Don’t forget: some European countries want to take the same road. Anyone with a bit of creativity in her/him should oppose such laws, in the USA and elsewhere too – because such laws could even be used to stop you from humming a pop song; because they might have destroyed Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Cans”; because they might very well have stopped the Arabian Spring before it even started; etc.
So act, and act now, before it’s too late!
Is this paper, called ‘The Private and Social Costs of Patent Trolls‘, the hard proof required to put an end to ‘patent trolling’?
In the past, non-practicing entities (NPEs) — firms that license patents without producing goods — have facilitated technology markets and increased rents for small inventors. Is this also true for today’s NPEs? Or are they “patent trolls” who opportunistically litigate over software patents with unpredictable boundaries? Using stock market event studies around patent lawsuit filings, we find that NPE lawsuits are associated with half a trillion dollars of lost wealth to defendants from 1990 through 2010, mostly from technology companies. Moreover, very little of this loss represents a transfer to small inventors. Instead, it implies reduced innovation incentives.
In other words: patent trolls destroy value rather than create it. QED.
As usual, Richard Stallman isn’t shy to use strong words. Specifically:
Stallman’s Law: Under corporatocracy, every advance in technology is an opportunity for corporations to reduce, in practice, the rights of human beings.
I think this wording is a bit too broad. To get it right, I’m guessing you have to add in more than a pinch of “marketing data greed”, and possibly add the specific context of internet-related products… but then again, there are always more and more of those, aren’t there?