Infographic: How patents hinder innovation

How patents hinder innovation

Patents may have been created to help encourage innovation, but instead they regularly hinder it. The US Patent Office, overwhelmed and underfunded, issues questionable patents every day. "Patent trolls" buy too many of these patents and then misuse the patent system to shake down companies big and small. Others still use patents to limit competition and impede access to new knowledge, tools, or other innovations. » Read more

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A cure for the common troll

A cure for the common troll

Our bridge into the 21st Century presently houses a nasty creature who demands a toll from the best and brightest in our community. The dreaded troll is a regular denizen of our current system of patent enforcement and he poses serious problems for technology companies. Despite the great expense of patent litigation, trolls are filing increasing numbers of patent suits aimed at technology companies, and particularly aimed at software and related areas of commerce. Their club of choice is the broad, complex, and vague patent claim. There are several means at our disposal, most of which are based on known mechanisms from other areas of the law, for dealing with these trolls, or more diplomatically, these "non-practicing entities." » Read more

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Why the patent system doesn't play well with software: If Eolas went the other way

Why the patent system doesn't play well with software: If Eolas went the other

Everyone take a deep breath: it seems we've had a moment of sanity in the patent wars. Last week, a jury invalidated the dangerous Eolas patents, which their owner claimed covered, well, essentially the whole Internet. The patents were originally granted for an invention that helped doctors to view images of embryos over the early web. A few years later, smelling quick cash, their owner insisted that it had a veto right on any mechanism used to embed an object in a web document. Really? The patents are obvious—both now in 2012 and back in 1994, when the first one was filed. Thankfully, a jury realized that and did what should have happened years ago: it invalidated these dangerous patents. » Read more

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The first FOSDEM Legal Issues DevRoom

The first FOSDEM Legal Issues DevRoom

For FOSDEM 2012, held last weekend in Brussels, I had the privilege of co-organizing (with Tom Marble, Karen Sandler, and Bradley Kuhn) the first-ever DevRoom track devoted to discussion of legal issues relating to free/libre/open source software. With several thousand attendees and hundreds of sessions, FOSDEM is one of the largest FLOSS conferences in the world, and surely the largest in Europe. This makes it all the more remarkable that FOSDEM is a free-admission, non-commercial community event, organized and administered entirely by volunteers.

The idea of a Legal DevRoom being untested, FOSDEM's organizers gave us a single day and a relatively small room. Our basic goal was to » Read more

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ACTA's back

ACTA's back

Technology issues are now a matter for citizens of the internet and not just big corporations.

Now that the US bills SOPA and PIPA have been put on ice, attention has returned to their parent, an international treaty called ACTA. I've written extensively about ACTA before, but in summary it is an international treaty that has been secretly negotiated to ensure as little input as possible from the citizens of any country. » Read more

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The Supreme Court's Golan decision gives short shrift to the public domain

The Supreme Court's Golan decision gives short shrift to the public domain

In a decision that favored the 1% (copyright owners) over the 99% (consumers and the public domain), the U.S. Supreme Court recently held that neither the Patent and Copyright Clause of the U.S. Constitution nor the First Amendment prohibits the removal of works from the public domain. Golan v. Holder, No. 10-545. Prior blog coverage of the case: certiorari granted and the 10th Circuit opinion. » Read more

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2011 People's Choice Award: And the winner is...

People's Choice Award

Thanks to everyone who voted for a People's Choice Award winner last week! Looking at the votes took some time due to a few folks who appear to have been dedicated enough to set up vote-bots. We appreciate your enthusiasm, but our authors are champs on their own, no additional help needed. But now that the votes are all in, we're pleased to announce that this year's winner is David Doria, who wrote several stories for our Education channel last year. » Read more

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What's not wrong with PIPA and SOPA

What's not wrong with PIPA and SOPA

Here's one list purporting to be the "10 Major Companies Which Are Supporting SOPA/PIPA" – Philip Morris, Rolex, Dolce & Gabbana, Adidas, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Ford Motor Company, Sony, Wal-Mart, World Wrestling Entertainment, Electronic Art – Notice something about them?<--break-> » Read more

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Why SOPA and PIPA are bad for open source

Why SOPA and PIPA are bad for open source

The widespread internet blackout last week in protest at unbalanced legislation being rushed through the US Congress was dramatic and notable. I did have some questions though on why it was important to the open source community. The way the laws have been framed by their proponents makes them look as if they are all about file sharing and specifically music and video sharing. However, the problem with them is they create badly-bounded new powers that are likely to exploited in ways that fall outside the frame. » Read more

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Crushed innovation: When patent lawyers switch to NPEs

Crushed innovation: When patent lawyers switch to NPEs

When well-known, richly compensated patent lawyers switch from representing world-class tech companies to servicing "non-practicing entities," something's up. Could the sordidness of a business based on bringing patent lawsuits be outweighed by large amounts of cash? At least for some, apparently yes. » Read more

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