LawLawLaw 2010-01-29

Apple vs. Google, Bilski, Recession Ending?

Greetings,

Welcome to the latest installment of my LawLawLaw newsletter. 2010 is the 10th year of the newsletter, and for this issue, I’m going retro: plain text, no graphics. I’m also using MailChimp for delivery.

Why the name LawLawLaw? Originally, LawLawLaw mapped nicely onto intellectual property law’s three areas: patent law, trademark law, and copyright law. Plus I owned the lawlawlaw.com domain name, so it was an easy choice!

Over the years, LawLawLaw has morphed into my observations on trends in technology, IP law (trademarks, domain names, and patents), baseball (long story), and rock ‘n’ roll (longer story). I summarize stories from other sites and provide links. I’m good at spotting trends, connecting people on social networks, and a handful of other things.

I try to keep LawLawLaw short, relevant, and timely. It is published about quarterly. Feel free to forward this to anyone else who might be interested. Thanks!

Regards,
Erik

Clock Tower Law Group [trademarks | domain names | patents]
2 Clock Tower Place, Suite 255, Maynard, MA 01754-2545
website: http://www.clocktowerlaw.com
email: info@clocktowerlaw.com
phone: 978-823-0008
fax: 978-246-0256

—snip—

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LawLawLaw 2010-01-29
Technology, Law, Baseball, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Etc.
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http://www.lawlawlaw.com is a periodic publication of Clock Tower Law
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— TECHNOLOGY STUFF ——————————————–

Google launched at least three new products: court opinions on Google Scholar, tracking ordinary websites in Google Reader, and Google Public DNS. I prefer to rely on Google for those products that I pay for, such as Google Apps for business (which we use at my firm). I love Google Reader, but I’d feel better if I could pay for it, if there were a quid pro quo, and if there were a corresponding support phone number where I could reach humans. Google doesn’t have the best reputation for customer support, especially for free products.

* Google Scholar Adds Lots Of US Caselaw
http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/11/finding-laws-that-govern-us.html

* Google Reader Tracks Feedless Websites
http://lifehacker.com/5456657/google-reader-gets-smart-tracks-updates-on-feedless-web-sites

* Google Launches Public DNS (8.8.8.8, 8.8.4.4)
http://gizmodo.com/5418210/google-continues-eating-the-internet-with-google-public-dns

Apple, on the other hand, has a great reputation for customer support. They launched the iPad and corresponding iBooks store this week. Perhaps you heard about it. I think the latter may be more significant than the former, as Apple breathes life into one segment of old media.

* Macro Chart Of Product Offerings From Google, Microsoft, Apple, And Yahoo
http://gizmodo.com/5455267/empire-building-visualizing-google-microsoft-apple-and-yahoo

Speaking of old media, Rupert Murdoch continues to be the poster child for Not Getting It as he tries to block Google and hide News Corp’s content behind a paywall. Yeah, that’ll work. And The New York Times has also boarded the failboat. See you online – not!

* Murdoch: Take Your Google Ball And Go Home
http://mashable.com/2009/11/24/murdoch/

* The New York Times Planning To Commit Suicide With Paywall
http://techdirt.com/articles/20100117/2309157783.shtml

— LAW STUFF —————————————————

Dan Wallach’s article on software in dangerous places reminded me of a 2002 MIT Technology Review article on why software is so bad. Manufacturers of software products, unlike manufacturers of other products, have long been given a Mulligan on product liability. Why is this so? Should it be so? I don’t belive it will always be so. As some point, non-negotiated shrinkwrap and clickwrap “licenses” will be a thing of the past and softawre makers won’t be able to dislciam all liability just because their EULAs claim to do so. Calling a dog a cat doesn’t make the dog meow.

* Software In Dangerous Places
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/dwallach/software-dangerous-places

* Why Is Software So Bad?
http://www.erikjheels.com/?p=423

On 11/09/09, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Bilski case. Bilski involves business method patents and the court’s (still pending) ruling has the potential to bring massive change to patent law, including business method patents and software patents. Not all companies rely on intellectual property. Your company should be planning for the end of software patents. It should also be planning for the expansion of software patents. The ruling could go either way.

* Abandoning Software Patents?
http://www.patentlyo.com/patent/2009/11/abandoning-software-patents.html

* Google Doesn’t Rely On Intellectual Property
http://techdirt.com/articles/20091110/0843176877.shtml

— BASEBALL STUFF ———————————————-

The 2009 season was one to forget. Some team from someplace won the World Series. The good news is that pitchers and catchers report in 17 days! Plus, the end of Bug Selig is in sight.

* Bud Selig To Step Down As MLB Commissioner In 2012
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4695595

* Martha Coakley Calls Schilling a Yankees Fan
http://www.survivinggrady.com/2010/01/martha-coakley-thinks-curt-schilling-is.html

— MUSIC STUFF ————————————————-

Rolling Stone continues to squander one of its biggest assets: five-star reviews. Here are the latest:

* Rolling Stone Announces More Five-Star Rated Albums And All I Got Was This Lousy Feed
http://www.erikjheels.com/?p=1173 (main article)
http://www.erikjheels.com/?p=1173&cpage=1#comment-369177 (latest five-star reviews)

Yes, all music is the same 12 notes (at least in most Western music). And all blog posts are the same 26 letters (at least in English).

* All Music Is The Same Four Chords
http://www.buzzfeed.com/lindseyweber/all-music-is-the-same-four-chords-ru/

* Or Perhaps The Five Chords Of Pachelbel’s Canon in D
http://techdirt.com/articles/20090118/1543483450.shtml

— RANDOM STUFF ————————————————

I remain cautiously optimistic about the economy. I believe that the rate of new startups is a leading indicator of the health of the economy. The trends for the last several months are encouraging:

* 900 #Startups Formed In Massachusetts In 12/2009
http://www.erikjheels.com/?p=2010

Other stuff for your reading and viewing pleasure:

* First Video Taken From A plane, Wilbur Wright, 1909
http://kottke.org/09/10/first-video-from-a-plane-1909

* The 2000s Decade (Whatever It’s Called) In Review
http://kottke.org/09/11/from-wassap-to-obama-a-decade-in-review

* Dilbert Comic 2009-11-17
Dogbert the CEO.
Dogbert: We’re going into the Internet news business.
Dilbert: We’re hiring reporters?
Dogbert: No, we’ll summarize stories from other sites and provide links.
Dilbert: So… we’ll be parasites?
Dogbert: Go buy a vinyl record, grandpa.
http://dilbert.com/strips/comic/2009-11-17/

END

LawLawLaw 2007-04-17

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

LawLawLaw
Introduction Stuff
Client Stuff
Law Stuff
Technology Stuff
Baseball Stuff
Rock ‘n’ Roll Stuff
Random Stuff

The opinions expressed in LawLawLaw do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Clock Tower Law Group, its employees, or the author. Edited for television.

Introduction Stuff

Constant Contact Update
In February 2007, I switched to Constant Contact for sending and managing this LawLawLaw newsletter. Shortly thereafter, privacy concerns surfaced, because Constant Contact was tracking opens and clicks on a per-user basis without giving the sender or the receiver a means for opting out of this tracking. Since then, I’ve learned (no thanks to Constant Contact) that if you create your own HTML template for these messages (as I’ve done), then there will be no per-user tracking of opens and clicks. So read in peace. The only stats I’ll have is whether or not your email address is valid.

The Power Of Two: Less Is More
I am always trying to improve this newsletter (see above). My latest tweak is limiting the number of articles to two per category. Seriously, do you need five blades in a razor? Less … more.

Client Stuff

BzzAgent Launches Word-of-Mouth Marketing In The UK (2007-03-38)
When you signup with BzzAgent UK, you have the opportunity to engage in meaningful communication with UK brands and companies; you receive exclusive product samples, vouchers and other special offers from some of the biggest brands in the UK; and you have the chance to share these product vouchers, special offers, and exclusive discounts with others.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game (2007-04-11)
Kayak travel deals for major league cities. Don’t wait for Web 3.0. Try Kayak for travel today.

Law Stuff

Many people have asked me why I don’t blog exclusively about the law. There are several reasons. First, intellectual property law (patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets) really hasn’t changed very much in the last 30 years. Second, much of the day-to-day changes are subtle and uninteresting to most of my readers. Third, the intersection of interesting and relevant (think “forest and trees” or “P and L statement”) material is minuscule. So I’m just trying to keep it real, relevant, and interesting.

Now On Martindale: Top 10 Lists (2007-03-19)
Martindale-Hubbell’s legal directory site Martindale.com announced a new feature: top 10 law firm lists, ranking law firms in various categories. It’s not the first time Martindale-Hubbell has put top 10 lists on its website. I wrote top ten lists for Martindale-Hubbell in 1997 (over ten years ago). What’s old is new again.

Is Copyright Violation Stealing? (2007-04-07)
It’s not a trick question. Neither is it a hard question. But it is certainly an interesting question with interesting answers, especially when it comes from Dilbert Creator Scott Adams.

Technology Stuff

The two biggest tech stories in the last month (where “month” is defined as 03/17/07 – 04/17/07, welcome to my world) are both Apple stories. In my opinion, we are just starting to see the impact that Apple TV will have on the cable TV industry. Already I am considering dumping Verizon FiOS TV. Also, Apple started selling music without copy-protection technology (so called Digital Rights Management (DRM) technology) in its iTunes Music Store. I have been a frequent critic of the music industry for not selling the products that its customers want to buy. But DRM-free music on iTunes is huge news for many reasons. First, the DRM-free tracks come at 256 Kbps, which is indistinguishable from CD audio. (128 Kbps is not CD-quality. Most people can hear the difference.) Second, we no longer have to waste our time doing the burn-rip cycle to rid iTunes tracks of their DRM. Third, the price for the better tracks is rightly higher, so the record companies will finally see that people are willing to pay more to get more. It’s huge news, and it’s only the beginning. Hopefully it’s also the beginning of the end of the dark ages.

Apple TV Reinvents TV Around What Consumers Want (2007-03-22)
“Apple TV is about to attack the fundamental assumptions underpinning the TV business just as the iPod cut the legs out from under CDs and radio stations.”

DRM-Free Songs On iTunes Mean More Differentiation For Apple (2007-04-02)
“Record label EMI and Apple have reached an agreement that allows Apple’s iTunes store to carry a significant portion of EMI’s music catalog without Digital Rights Management (DRM) restrictions. The new DRM-free AAC files will sell for a premium price, $1.29 [per] song, allowing that music to be played on many third-party music players, not just iPods. For those who don’t want to pay for the higher quality or lack of DRM, the same songs will be available [with] Apple’s Fairplay DRM for $0.99. Buyers who purchase albums will automatically get the higher quality versions without DRM.” See also a nice summary of the reaction to Apple’s DRM-free announcement.

Baseball Stuff

I’m quickly realizing that this two-article-per-category limit may prevent me from mentioning some really interesting stories, like how Manny Ramirez was selling his grill on eBay. Then again, maybe it won’t.

Yahoo Picks Curt Schilling’s Blog (2007-03-28)
“Blogs written by public figures too often have the plastic sheen of public relations all over them. True believers of the Web don’t ask for a lot, but they do appreciate the unvarnished truth. Anything less reeks of insincerity about the medium. That’s why Curt Schilling’s personal blog is a welcome respite from the watered-down happy talk that permeates the blogs of many well-known folks.”

Dice-KKKKKKKKKK (2007-04-05)
Daisuke Matsuzaka strikes out ten in his MLB debut. And for the record, Beth is still my favorite Sox blogger. Sorry, Curt.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Stuff

Traveling Wilburys Albums To Be Reissued (2007-03-21)
“The two albums from ’80s supergroup Traveling Wilburys will finally be reissued on June 12 by the noble historians at Rhino Records.” What’s next? The Beatles on iTunes?

The Day Sanjaya Won American Idol (2007-03-21)
American Idol is the most popular TV show in the history of television, and Sanjaya Malakar is Season Six’s breakout star. Here’s why. (Or you could just ask my nearly 9-year-old daughter.)

Random Stuff

Again feeling constrained by my self-imposed two-article-per-category limit, I feel compelled to mention the Game Over Project (featuring Space Invaders acted out by people) and this year’s April Fools’ Day round-up. I guess it depends on what the definition of “two” is.

Works On My Machine (2007-03-23)
This blog post reminded me of a funny story from MIT. My friend Peter S. and I were lab partners in a notoriously challenging electrical engineering lab class. In this class, we built a functioning computer step by step. Mis-wire one chip and your kit would not work. We sat opposite each other in the lab, cutting, splicing, and wiring from a specific pin on one chip to a specific pin on another chip. We spoke out loud, checking and double-checking our work. At the end of each phase, we powered on the kits and ran a series of tests to make sure that we had wired everything correctly. One wiring mistake could mean hours of re-wiring. When we finally powered on our kits to check our progress, my lights instantly turned on, his did not. “Drat!,” he said (to paraphrase). We checked and double-checked. Everything looked fine on both kits. That’s when I said, not too helpfully, “If it’s any consolation, mine works!” Long story short. Because we were sitting facing each other, it wasn’t immediately obvious that I’d wired one set of lights and he’d wired another set. His was correct, mine was wrong. The lights weren’t supposed to go on! It’s become a running joke ever since. (Peter and I would later go on to work in QA at both BBN and Cayman.)

The Joy Of Righteous Indignation (2007-03-20)
Dilbert creator Scott Adams blogs about working as a desk clerk at a resort in the Catskills and how his boss told him that dealing with complainers was part of the job. His story reminded me of our neighbors in Eliot, Maine (our first house). We invited the neighbors to an open house after we moved in. When I asked one couple what they did for a living, the husband replied that he was retired and that he “just likes to sit at home and criticize.” It helps to say that in a heavy Maine accent. It’s a worthy goal, one that I’ve been trying to achieve ever since, and one that is partially fulfilled by blogging. Thanks for reading.