LawLawLaw 2008-11-24

Technology, Law, Baseball, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Etc.

Intro Stuff

The opinions expressed in LawLawLaw do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Clock Tower Law Group, its employees, or the author. Action figures sold separately.

I read hundreds of sources to compile this LawLawLaw newsletter, my thoughts and observations on trends in technology, law, baseball, and music. If you enjoy this – or know somebody who would – please reblog, retweet, forward, or otherwise share this. This issue’s trending topics are easy to spot: Twitter, software patents, and the election (and the recession). I am offering FreeTrademarksForStartups.com as my part to help the struggling economy. Please spread the word.

Finally, during this holiday season, we pause to say thank you to our family, friends, clients, neighbors, and colleagues. Hope you have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and holiday season!

Client Stuff

Clock Tower Law Group’s clients range in size from a sole proprietor to a publicly traded company. Here’s what some of them are up to.

American Airlines’ Fares (Quietly) Return to Kayak.com. Their temporary departure was not so quiet.

BzzAgent’s Practical Facebook App. Word-of-mouth application comes out of beta.

LifeHacker’s Hive Five Winner for Best Travel Site: Kayak. Travel search aggregation site Kayak won the top spot in this weekend’s survey, raking in an impressive 62% of the vote.

Technology Stuff

Twitter. I am a big fan of social networking. I’ve been blogging since 2002, I use LinkedIn for business networking, and I use Facebook for friends and family. But microblogging service Twitter has changed the way I think about social networking. Twitter is a blogging service that limits your posts (called “Tweets”) to 140 characters. That forces the writer to be succinct. It also enables a wide range of real-time conversations on nearly any topic. Twitter has been described previously and better by others. Check out the Twitter page on Wikipedia for a good primer. But here’s why Twitter matters. Twitter is an opt-in service, which means it has a much higher signal/noise ratio than other forms of communication. Remember pre-spam Usenet? Remember pre-spam email? That’s what Twitter reminds me of. Unlike self-proclaimed “experts,” I don’t think that you should blog or Tweet about just your profession. Write about what interests you, and interesting things will happen. As soon as I decided to free my blog (and this newsletter) from the self-imposed restriction of covering only intellectual property law, my social network got a lot more interesting. Because I write about stuff that interest me (and not just work-related stuff), I end up connecting with interesting people. On Twitter, I am @ErikJHeels and you can follow me at http://twitter.com/erikjheels.

Google Minus Google searches everything except Google-owned sites (such as YouTube).

How To Get PR For Your Startup. Summed up in six words: be amazing, be everywhere, be real.

Typical Apple Product vs. A Google Product vs. Your Company’ s App. Keep it simple.

Is Search Really 90% Solved? Search is not solved. Search is totally broken. Black-hat and white-hat SEO results are polluting search results. I recently signed up for a fax-to-email service from eFax, not because I thought they were the best, but because I could not find a current reputable review by searching Google for “efax review.” It was quicker and more cost-effective to rely on the brand “eFax” than to rely on any search results from Google. I argue that this is becoming the rule, not the exception.

Maine’s first Apple Store ready to open. Have you heard the joke about why Maine is a safe place to be in case of nuclear war? Because things take longer to get to Maine! Bah-dum-bum. So the end of the world is near. I can make this joke. I grew up in Maine and am related to one true Mainer – my son. Gotta’ be born in Maine to be a Mainer!

United States Is 15th In The World In High-Speed Broadband Internet. Just ahead of Denmark. Finland is third.

Analog-To-Digital TV Switch Will Be Easy As Pie. Don’t you believe it!

Christian Science Monitor Abandons Print. Becomes the first national newspaper to go paperless. And won’t be the last. In the newspaper business, the emphasis should be on the news, not on the paper.

See also:

Law Stuff

Software Patents. The 10/30/08 In re Bilski CAFC decision means that it will be more difficult for companies to secure business method or software patents. The 04/30/07 KSR v. Teleflex Supreme Court decision made it easier for the USPTO to reject patents for being obvious (i.e. not new enough). What these cases do is give the USPTO – which is already predisposed to rejecting patent applications – more ammunition to make rejections. Regardless of how you interpret these cases, the USPTO has a track record of publishing “guidelines” for how examiners should interpret and apply the law. These guidelines are rarely favorable to applicants. On 10/10/07, the USPTO published guidelines about how to apply KSR, and they may do the same after Bilski. As a result of these cases, I recommend that software-related patents be filed as provisionals, which (1) gives you one extra year of patent pending and (2) gives the law a chance to settle down. In light of KSR, if your invention consists of combinations of elements that exist in the prior art (either literally or equivalently), then I believe it will be extremely difficult – if not impossible – to secure a patent. Conversely, if your invention has the “nugget of newness” not found in the prior art, then it has a better chance of being patented.

USPTO Patent Allowance Rate. What’s wrong with this chart?

Truly Stateless Companies. Google has filed patents to create deep sea floating platforms to house its massive data centers. These barges would be outside tax and enforcement jurisdictions of all nation-states.

Federal Circuit Revives Design Patent Law. Egyptian Goddess v. Swisa (Fed. Cir 2008, en banc) case says that the test for infringement of a design patent is the “ordinary observer” test.

Trademark Office Rejects SEX ROD Application Due To RED SOX Trademark. Because Winston Churchill said, “It doesn’t take all types, there just are all types.”

Kathy Griffin Sues To Get KathyGriffin.com Domain Name. The best offence to cybersquatters? A good defense.

Jack Daniels vs. ILoveJackDaniels.com. And the “winner” is: Jack Daniels.

Madrid Protocol: Affordable International Trademarks For Startups. The Madrid Protocol is a great option for startups who want foreign trademark protection but don’t want to file trademarks in separate countries. If you want to have trademarks in the United States and in Europe, then (1) file your trademark application in the US and (2) within 6 months of your US filing file a Madrid Protocol application for International Registration (designating the European Community).

Baseball Stuff

Instant Replay Makes Fenway Debut. Never thought I’d see it in my lifetime.

Red Sox Set MLB Record With 456th Consecutive Sellout. And counting.

The Rich Get Richer: The Ugly Truth About The New Yankee Stadium. I am not a Yankees fan. I am a baseball fan first, a Red Sox fan second. But what the Yankees are doing to their fans is disgusting. Millions of ordinary baseball fans will no longer be able to go to Yankees games. What a shame.

Epic Comeback: Red Sox Win ALCS Game 5 Over Rays 8-7. This is the most exciting baseball game I’ve ever attended. See also play-by-play and Beth’s coverage.

My First Red Sox Game. From my daughter’s blog. Nepotism is good work if you can get it.

Dear 2008 Red Sox: Thanks For A Great Season. Win or lose, I’m with you every game, every inning.

What a Miserable World Series. Tommy Boy writes: “Mother Nature has brought rain and snow to Philadelphia in late October, thus forcing Major League Baseball to delay Game 5 of the World Series and postpone it until two days later. Only under a league commissioned by Bud Selig would something like this happen.”

Music Stuff

Kid Rock Rips Off Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London. If Zevon were still alive, he’d kick some Kid Rock butt. Sampling is one thing, but “All Summer Long” is “Werewolves of London” (except that the former stinks, the latter rocks).

Sonos vs. AirTunes. Rick Klau blogged about Sonos. Then I replied (in a Google Reader Shared Items Note): “iTunes (free) + AirPort Express ($99) is less expensive than Sonos.com ($999) + anything and better sound quality than Sonos.com + Rhapsody.com ($13/mo). Sound quality is determined by the quality of files being streamed (and the speakers). The AirPort Express transcodes audio on the fly to encrypted Apple Lossless. I re-ripped all of my MP3s to 256 Kbps VBR, which is indistinguishable from CD-Audio quality (erikjheels.com/?p=589). Most music services stream at less than 256 Kbps for precisely this reason (and to keep the record companies happy). Last time I checked, Rhapsody streams at between 128 Kbps (www.google.com/search?rhapsody+bitrate) and 160 Kbps (www.cnet.com/1990-7899_1-6396943-1.html). Nor am I limited to the music in my iTunes library. I can also stream hundreds of free radio stations from iTunes when I’m looking for a music library bigger than my own. Maybe you have better speakers, but I’ll bet I can upgrade mine for less than $1000.”

Politics Stuff

Presidential Election. I usually don’t blog about politics but will for this issue (fair warning). This year’s election undoubtedly involved new uses of technology, the new administration will shape our future laws, presidents frequently throw out the first pitch at baseball games (OK, perhaps stretch with this one), and candidates are often treated as rock stars. So for now, at least, politics fits in pretty well with the theme of LawLawLaw (if you can call, Technology, Law, Baseball, and Rock ‘n’ Roll a theme).

Google’s Coverage of the 2008 Election (2008-08-27). Hey New York Times, still wondering if Google is a media company?

A Clinton Masterpiece (2008-08-28). On America: “People around the world have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of our power.”

McCain’s Folly? Botching the Chance to Define His VP Pick (2008-09-02). The day after she was nominated, nobody knew who she was.

Graphing Lessons (2008-09-16). McCain’s tax plan looks like a dagger, Obama’s like a tower.

Federal Reserve Bails Out AIG As Financial Meltdown Commences (2008-09-17)

Political Domain Typos (2008-09-24). Even the Obama campaign made mistakes.

New Yorker Has Some Fun (2008-09-29). The Governor of Alaska can see Russia from her window! OK, she needs binoculars.

Queen of YouTube! (2008-10-01). All the best/worst video clips of McCains running mate.

The National Debt Clock: Broken (2008-10-09)

Independent For Obama (2008-10-10). Breaking my political silence.

ATM Machine Morphs Into Transformer-Style Bank Loan Officer (2008-10-14)

CNN’s Jack Cafferty On McCain’s Running Mate (2008-10-24)

The Anchorage Daily News Endorses Obama (2008-10-26)

Opinion: Anti-Science Rhetoric (2008-10-28). From Yarden Katz at MIT.

Guy Who Insists E-Voting Machines Work Fine Unwittingly Demonstrates That They Don’t (2008-10-29)

Unlicensed Plumber and Tax-Evader Endorses McCain (2008-10-29). It’s satire (in case you didn’t guess).

Obama Becomes First Black President In Landslide (2008-11-04). In case you’ve been living in a cave.

Rebuilding the Republican Party (2008-11-19). Vote Rick Klau 2020. You heard it here first.

Random Stuff

“All the stuff that fits.”

Great Olympic Moments On YouTube. I especially like Billy Mills in the 10,000 in the 1964 Tokyo games.

Acton Blogger Finds Outlet At Young Age. A nice story about my daughter’s blog: “When Sonja Heels typed out an online posting four years ago about a new album she was hoping to buy, she broke into the world of bloggers once dominated by college students, young professionals and news junkies. What set Sonja apart from most of the rest, though, was her age. She was just 6 years old.”

If you enjoy this LawLawLaw newsletter – or know somebody who would – please reblog, retweet, forward, or otherwise share this. I am offering FreeTrademarksForStartups.com as my part to help the struggling economy. Please spread the word. On Twitter, I am @ErikJHeels and you can follow me at http://twitter.com/erikjheels.

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  1. @ErikJHeels says...

    Brandy and I continued to discuss this topic offline. A friend of hers said that Zevon is credited in the liner notes. Brandy checked the HFA Songfile database, Harry Fox Agency for “All Summer Long,” HFA song code A3845Z, which indeed lists the writers as Waddy Wachtel, Ronald Vanzant, Gary Rossington, R.J. Ritchie, Warren Zevon, Matthew Shafer, Leroy Marinell, and Edward King.

    When I bought my house, we discovered that it was infested with honey bees and paper wasps. The previous owners knew about this but failed to disclose it. We spent $3000 on extermination and repairs. Since there was no real estate disclosure law in Massachusetts, the previous owners complied with the bare minimum requirements of the law. But was it ethical?

    Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” goes beyond traditional sampling. It is more like a mash-up of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama.” Kid Rock’s credit to the latter is obvious, since the words “Sweet Home Alabama” are in the lyrics of the song. His credit to the former is not obvious unless you are a student of rock. KidRock.com, Amazon.com, and Google.com make no mention of Warren Zevon getting WRITING CREDIT for the “sampling” of “Werewolves of London” song. Sampling is mentioned, not writing credit. And therein lies the problem.

    If you “sample” a song and don’t change anything, then it’s not really sampling. It’s covering. If Kid Rock’s song were called “Werewolves of London + Sweet Home Alabama Medley,” then that would be one thing. But Kid Rock is pretending that this is his own work. Radio DJs who play the song rarely mention the Zevon connection. I’m guessing most of them are unaware of it. Warren Zevon would hate the dreck that is “All Summer Long.” And even if Kid Rock has legally licensed both tracks, so what? There should be higher standards for musicianship. Bare minimum compliance with copyright laws does not an ethical musician make.

    I remember when artists relied on their own creativity rather than riding on the coat tails of deceased artists who are powerless to defend themselves. Rock music peaked nearly a generation ago, http://www.erikjheels.com/?p=1173, and Kid Rock is part of the problem.

  2. @ErikJHeels says...

    Greetings,

    Really, Kid Rock licensed Zevon? Got URL? If so, good. But Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” still sucks.

    Regards,
    Erik

  3. brandy karl says...

    re: the kid rock song – it’s licensed. zevon may or may not be pissed off in heaven, but the proper owners properly licensed the song, and zevon (along with the other authors of the song) are listed as writers of the kid rock song. that’s not what i call being ripped off. it’s a licensed remixing and reusing. who cares if it’s not sampling?