Friday afternoon I attended the second day of the AIPLA annual meeting. I got to the Marriott Wardman Park hotel at 9:00 am and was there until after 11:00 pm, for a full day of activities. I met so many interesting people while there, including the current Chief Judge Randall Rader for the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, who I encountered at the AIPLA Excellence Award dinner, which honored Chief Judge Paul Michel. Throughout the afternoon there where many different topics of discussions and presentations. The one I could not wait to attend was the session on blogging titled “Blog On! Thoughts on Patent Blogging from Inside and Outside the Blogospere.” I was particularly interested because the panel was to address the case where IPWatchdog as a company and Gene Quinn and I as individuals were sued by an invention promotion company that didn’t like what we had written about them. See Settlement Announcement: Lawsuit Against IPWatchdog Over.
The panel was moderated by Aaron Feigelson of Leydig, Voit & Mayer out of Chicago IL. Karen Hazzah of Thomas Kayden Horstemeyer & Risley, LLP, in Atlanta GA started the panel with the topic titled “Information Lag? Information Blag! Patents and Other Law Blogs as a Source of Information and Research Tools.” Karen talked about how she started her blog and things that she and others have done that have worked for their blogs. Following Karen was Jonathan D. Frieden of Odin Feldman Pittleman, PC in Fairfax, VA. Frieden’s topic of discussion was titled “Issues Involved in Blogging.” He discussed the legal and ethical implications of blogging.
Frieden gave us some interesting statistics on the percentage of adult internet users and their use of the Internet for different reasons. 81% of adult users go to the Internet to research products and services, 70% read the news, 32% read blogs and 11% create blogs. This is why I always stress how important it is to keep your blog or website fresh and up to date. You need to share your knowledge with others because new and interesting content is what will keep your readers coming back.
Frieden stated that there are specific limitations to keep in mind when blogging.
- Deep Linking – Leads readers to an internal page on a website, instead of the home page. Deep linking is neither copyright infringement nor trespass.
- Images – Use of images owned by another person may be copyright infringement, depending upon nature of use.
- Comments – Placing comments on a blog implicitly authorizes the use of that comment by others.
- Public/Open Source Licensing – Eg. Creative Commons: Allows users to create a “Mad Lib” style license for his/her copyrighted works. Creative Commons licenses are used by a number of influential websites, including Wikipedia.
- Fair Use – People can take small pieces of what others write without violating copyright. If you take too much or if you take the main substance of the article, however, you can be liable for copyright infringement.
The next speaker was Jacob M. Ward of Fraser Clemens Martin & Miller, LLC in Perrysburg, OH. Ward is also the author of the legal blog Anticipate This! Ward’s topic of discussion was, of course, the topic that I most anticipated. Ward discussed the facts of the IPWatchdog defamation case along with the Troll Tracker case. Needless to say his part of the panel was very interesting to me. He presented the facts of our case accurately and had this to say:
The IPWatchdog blog has long been critical of invention promoters which is a term that is defined in AIPA as any person, firm, partnership, corporation or other entity who offers to perform or performs invention promotion services for or on behalf of a customer and it holds itself out through advertising of any mass media as providing of such services. The AIPA was enacted, at least in part, in order to protect inventors from unscrupulous invention promoters. I’m sure many of you are aware of this, the USPTO and the FTC have been highly critical of certain invention promoters. And in fact there are websites you can go to at the USPTO and the FTC which call out to complaints against invention promoters.
Other panel members, who participated in a Q and A session with the audience were Dennis Crouch of the University of Missouri School of Law in Columbia, MO and author of the law blog PatentlyO along with Donald Zuhn of McDonnell Boehnen Hulbert & Berghoff in Chicago, IL, who is better known perhaps as one of the Patent Docs.
To end the panel discussion, Ward added the he highly recommended that bloggers have insurance and informed everyone that Media Bloggers Association (MBA) provides liability insurance for bloggers. We at IPWatchdog are members of the Media Bloggers Association and have the liability insurance Ward discussed.
One more thing, a lot of people asked me where Gene was and why he wasn’t here for the panel. I was also asked if I was going to take his place on the panel. Just for the record, Gene was not invited to be on the panel, which we initially thought was curious but perhaps was due to the fact that at the time the panel was planned our lawsuit was ongoing. Those who know Gene know he wouldn’t have missed the opportunity to speak at the AIPLA meeting, so maybe next year.
Again with the inability to clone myself and make yet another Renee Quinn to be in more than one place at a time, (Hey I wonder if that is patentable!) I could not be in all of the sessions at once. In the afternoon, I attended the session on Corporate Practice/Inventor Issues and Management of IP Assets moderated by Kevin Wolff of Wolff Law Offices, PLLC in Chapel Hill, WI. This session included Joseph Miotke of MioTek, LLC in Shorewood WI, Joel E. Lutzker of IPX International in Greenwich CT, George J. Awad of IAMG, LLC in Philadelphia, PA and Robert S Bramson of Bramson & Pressman of Conshohocken PA. The speakers discussed ways that inventors can harvest and develop as well as monetize their IP portfolios. Although I am not the attorney half of IPWatchdog, I know that so many people come to us with “an idea that will make millions, if not billions.” Applying for a patent application is no guarantee an inventor will make money. Licensing, Developing, Manufacturing and Marketing all play a roll in monetizing an invention.
I spent the remainder of the early evening perusing the 40 exhibits that were on display and talking with exhibitors until everyone closed up shop for the evening. The displays included patent searchers, illustrators, translators, IP managing software and and software suites, form generator tools, legal services, foreign filing companies, and many other types of services that would be of interest to those in the IP World!
Again I spoke to several people and asked them to go on the record. Matthew F. Mottice, a registered patent attorney with Standley Law Group in Dublin, OH, stated that this was his fourth year attending this event. He was still a student at the University of Akron Law School when he attended for the first time. I asked him if he felt that anything in particular stood out to him this year verses the previous years he attended.
Mottice: I think that this year as opposed to others in the past, they have a little more diversity in the topics that they were talking about this year. They were really focusing more on the copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. I think it’s mainly because the KSR has died down and there’s not any huge patent case that’s pending. Some are coming on the horizon, but the same time I think it gave them more leeway to talk about other issues.
Renée: Do you feel you got a lot of information that can be used practically in your work at your law firm?
Mottice: Yes, I love the fact that all of the materials are available online. So you can pay attention to the speakers while you’re here and then on my plane flight back home I’ll start looking for stuff that’s available online.
One more post to come on the AIPLA meeting, which will focus on the Excellence Award dinner and reception.