law - Page number 2

A banner year for patent litigation in 2012

patent litigation

Open source community members and most everyone else involved in software are concerned about patent lawsuits and the activities of non-practicing entities (NPEs). While we all have a sense from personal experience or by reading the news that patent litigation and NPEs are a large and growing concern, at times it's hard to see the forest for the trees. A new report from a respected accounting firm gives a bird's eye view of the forest.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) 2013 Patent Litigation Study, 2012 was a "banner year for patent infringement litigation." Patent actions continued their dramatic rise in 2012 with 5,189 filings—the highest number ever recorded, and a 29% rise over last year, primarily resulting from the impact of the anti-joinder provision of the America Invents Act. Meanwhile, the 2012 median damages award, boosted by several unusually large damages awards, rose to nearly $10 million, which is double the average award seen over the previous six years.

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The EFF covers Google's open patent non-assertion pledge

patents for open innovation

The flood of software patents has created an environment where companies are afraid that innovation leads to being hit by patent lawsuits. Every dollar spent fighting patent trolls and or waging patent wars is a dollar not spent researching, developing, and creating jobs. The situation is so bad that, in 2011, Apple and Google spent more on patent litigation and buying patents than they did on research. So it’s no surprise that some companies are looking for new ways to navigate the patent system while promoting openness and innovation.

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Open, collaborative effort to improve US patents

make things better

Late last year, I wrote about the EFF’s project to leverage the Patent Office’s new Preissuance Submissions procedure to promote open 3D printing technology. Here we are, several months later, and the fight for open 3D printing continues. Now, the EFF has partnered with Ask Patents to facilitate crowdsourcing of prior art searches for various 3D printing-related patent applications.

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Younger developers reject licensing, risk chance for reform

copyright in the dark

Modern copyright law grants copyright automatically to any creative work, including simple things like blog posts – and small pieces of code on github. This default copyright creates an assumption that for someone to do anything further with someone else's creative work requires permission from the author—what Lawrence Lessig calls "the permission culture." The open license ecosystem often takes this permission culture for granted, rather than fighting back—and that may be contributing to the proliferation of unlicensed code.

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Which open source software license should I use?

MPL GPL APACHE

I’ve recently been involved in several discussions that are variations on, "Which open source or free software license should I choose for my project?" Here is my way of looking at the large and growing collection of licenses in the wild. First, let's make sure we all understand that I Am Not A Lawyer. This is not legal advice. Depending upon your needs and your comfort with risk around your software, you'll want to confirm your legal choices with counsel in your jurisdiction.

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Top 10 FOSS issues of 2012

foss lawyers

The year 2012 had many important FOSS legal developments which reflects the continued increase in FOSS use. FOSS projects have increased from 600,000 in 2010 to 900,000 by December 2012. In addition, a Dr. Dobbs' survey in the third quarter of 2012 stated that more than 90% of developers are using FOSS in two of the most rapidly growing areas, cloud computing and mobile computing.

Continuing the tradition of looking back over the top ten legal developments in FOSS, my selection of the top ten issues for 2012 are as follows.

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Abolishing patents: Too soon or too late?

patent stop sign

"Patents are here to stay." This is the sort of statement that makes me uneasy. I guess in the 17th century the common wisdom was "slavery is here to stay." In the 18th century giving voting rights to women seemed absurd and foreseeing open borders between France and German was crazy talk in 1945. At a certain point, fortunately, those things changed for the better. Is it time to change the common wisdom on patents as well? Is the time ripe—will it ever be?—to utter the frightening word abolition? I do not have the privilege to know the answer, but I regard the question as a legitimate one. According to some patent experts, however, questioning the very existence of patents seems blasphemous. » Read more

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Should software patents be abolished?

patent struggle

We talk a lot about what might be done to fix the problems of software patents, but not much about abolishing them. Abolition seems well-nigh impossible, given current economic and political realities. Serious economists and respected financial institutions don’t usually discuss it publicly. Thus, I was surprised when I finally got around to reading a recent working paper published last month under the auspices of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis that argued broadly for patent abolition position.

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Lend some code to your local representative

There was a bit of news coming out the European Parliament recently that could be easily overlooked. MEP Indrek Tarand (of Estonia no less), along with some non-MEP partners, started the European Parliament Free Software User Group (EPFSUG).

With goals like “assist people in using Free Software in the European Parliament” and planned sessions like “making your laptop free” it’s largely internal focused and not geared toward policy making. The acronym doesn’t quite roll off the tongue, in English at least, and the website leaves much to be desired, but there’s still something interesting here. » Read more

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TEDx branding: A legal point of view

My friend and former colleague Chris Grams recently wrote a great article on the topic of extending the TED brand by allowing anyone to organize their own TED conference under “TEDx” branding. Chris posits that trademark law may be standing in the way of successful branding in today's business environment, where brands and brand affinity are built through community engagement rather than through top-down, owner-driven brand strategy.

I couldn't agree more. » Read more

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