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GQ Picks: Stuff Worth Reading Vol. 1

I love to write about patents and intellectual property in general, and I love to read about all things intellectual property as well.  As any writer will undoubtedly tell you, researching and writing takes a lot of time.  It seems that I am increasingly finding interesting things to write about and expand upon, but there are only so many hours in the day.  With this in mind, rather than bookmark interesting blog articles or news columns hoping that I will find time to write about the topic and expand upon what was said, I have decided to try and occasionally put together a list of things I ran across and wish I had more time to write about myself.  So, with no further ado, here is a list of some things I stumbled across on the Internet recently that I think are worth reading.

Intel’s Andy Grove Wades into Patent-Reform Debate

Andy Grove received a lifetime achievement award from the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and during his 3 minute acceptance speech he questioned whether those turning patents into commodities and selling them are create a problem not unlike the derivatives problem that brought Wall Street to its knees.  This Wall Street Journal article explains:

Grove, who is 72 and serves as a special advisor to Intel, traced the problem to the way patents are now treated as commodities-bought and sold by speculators who may play no role in turning the intellectual property into products. He compared the situation to the rise of the financial instruments known as derivatives, which have legitimate uses but are widely blamed for playing a role in the Wall Street meltdown. “Do these patent instruments put us on a similar road?” Grove asked.

Hats Off to First U.S. Woman Patent-Holder

200 years ago today, on May 5, 1809, Mary Kies became the first woman to receive a U.S. patent.  Her invention was a method of weaving straw with silk or thread.

The United States passed its first patent law in 1790, but few women applied to patent their inventions. One reason was that many states had laws that didn’t allow women to own property in their own right if they were married.

BIO Urges Congress On Patent Reform: First, Do No Harm

Patent Baristas had a nice summary of the BIO position on patent reform.  In addition to providing a summary, they have a link to the full statement submitted to Congress.  Capturing the magnitude of the potential harm that could be caused with legislation that would harm biotech research and development the article says:

The breakdown for the biotechnology industry looks like this: more than 7.5 million people employed; more than 300 biotechnology drugs and diagnostics created; another 400 or so biotechnology products in the pipeline.

The Patent Reform Act Means Progress

The title is horribly misleading, but what do you expect when a popular news outlet tries to cover a patent issue?  The article has Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) explaining why patent reform is a good idea, and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher(R-CA) explains why patent reform is unfair.  Caution to those who think this D vs. R is how the reform debate will play out in Congress.  It is more about constituents than about party affiliation!

Leahy excerpt:

The Patent Reform Act will preserve America’s longstanding position at the pinnacle of innovation. It will establish a more efficient, streamlined patent system that will improve patent quality and limit unnecessary, counterproductive litigation costs, while making sure no party’s access to court is denied.

Rohrabacher excerpt:

Contrary to its title, the patent legislation now going through the Senate is not reform, but instead changes the law to benefit a narrow sector of the electronics industry, and trial lawyers. It does not maintain protection for the innovators and inventors but instead undermines their position against foreign and domestic infringers.

Twitter Starts To Act Like Apple By Making Life Hard For Developers

Twitter cited violations to its terms of service including “copyright infringement,” “mass account creation,” and “squatting”. It was probably the second issue that got him into hot water. Over the course of a weekend, he and his wife (manually) created 650 Twitter accounts, one for each team, with each account drawing data from that team’s page on StatSheet. It probably looked like spam to Twitter, but simply looking at some of the accounts would show that they were not spam.

Copyright Lawsuit Allowed To Proceed Against YouTube

Google has said that that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act doesn’t require it to proactively seek out infringing clips and remove them. Rather, it argues, the law only requires Google to remove copyrighted material upon request.

But content owners say that Google is in a better position than them to know what’s on the site and delete infringing clips. “The major hurdle facing our clients is that the cost of monitoring the huge YouTube Web site is prohibitive,” said Tur’s attorney, Hal Shaftel, a partner at Proskauer Rose.

Patent Pending Pitfalls

Inventors and businesses need to beware when they are using the term “patent pending.”  You can use it only if there really is a patent application filed and pending.  This article explains:

Examples of false marking include identifying the goods as “patent pending” when no patent was ever applied for, using a patent number that doesn’t exist, using an expired patent number, using a patent number that applies to a different product, and even using broad language such as “this product may be covered by a patent.” False marking fines can be up to $500 per offense. That can add up fast with a product like software because each copy of the software is a separate violation.

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