LawLawLaw 2010-01-29

Apple vs. Google, Bilski, Recession Ending?


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 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!


Clock Tower Law Group [trademarks | domain names | patents]
2 Clock Tower Place, Suite 255, Maynard, MA 01754-2545
phone: 978-823-0008
fax: 978-246-0256


LawLawLaw 2010-01-29
Technology, Law, Baseball, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Etc.
================================================================= is a periodic publication of Clock Tower Law
Group. The opinions in LawLawLaw do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Clock Tower Law Group, its employees, or the author.
Feel free to forward this to any colleague who might enjoy this
newsletter. Please direct content or subscription questions to Thanks!

— 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

* Google Reader Tracks Feedless Websites

* Google Launches 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

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

* The New York Times Planning To Commit Suicide With Paywall

— 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

* Why Is Software So Bad?

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?

* Google Doesn’t Rely On Intellectual Property

— 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

* Martha Coakley Calls Schilling a Yankees Fan

— 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 (main article) (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

* Or Perhaps The Five Chords Of Pachelbel’s Canon in D

— 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

Other stuff for your reading and viewing pleasure:

* First Video Taken From A plane, Wilbur Wright, 1909

* The 2000s Decade (Whatever It’s Called) 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.


LawLawLaw 2007-04-17

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

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 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.

Nonlegal Careers

Possession of a law degree doesn’t mean you have to practice law in order to prosper and enjoy life. Plus, online career planning resources.

Possession of a law degree doesn’t mean you have to practice law in order to prosper and enjoy life. Plus, online career planning resources.

By Erik J. Heels

First published 10/1/1999; Law Practice Management magazine, “” column; American Bar Association

It’s been nearly five years since I put my legal career on hold, and I haven’t looked back. Considering an Internet career path? Here’s how I got started.

I spent four years at MIT getting my degree in electrical engineering. To pay for MIT, I spent four years in the Air Force, part of the time flying planes (until the Air Force decided it didn’t want me landing its planes anymore) and part of the time flying a desk. I never really practiced electrical engineering while in the Air Force, but I did manage engineering projects. I left the Air Force to enter law school. I became a patent attorney, thinking this was a good way to combine my technical experience with my law degree. Although I clerked for a patent law firm while in school, I never practiced law.

Before and while I was in law school, I wrote five editions of my book The Legal List, Law-Related Resources on the Internet and Elsewhere, an early (and for some editions pre-Web) attempt at cataloging all the Internet’s law-related resources in one place. The Legal List took over my life for three-plus years.

When I graduated from law school, I had the option to pursue a career as a patent attorney or a career in the Internet. I decided I would work in the Internet marketspace for two years. I promised myself that if, at the end of that time, I was still having fun, I would continue to put my legal career on indefinite hold.

So I went to work, writing two more editions of my book for Lawyers Cooperative Publishing (then part of Thomson Publishing, now part of West Group), and working for Inherent.Com, a Portland, OR-based Internet services company. I then decided to apply the marketing, sales and project management skills I’d developed in the legal market to the business market in general. In mid-1997, I left the legal market and started working in marketing and sales for national Internet service provider Verio Inc.

I enjoyed working in the legal vertical market, but selling to lawyers and law firms can be quite difficult at times. Besides, the legal market is just one small part of the much larger business market I was eager to tackle.

It’s been nearly five years since I put my legal career on hold, and I haven’t looked back. I still pay my bar dues and keep my law practice alive. The few cases I get I refer to friends and colleagues.

It’s a Matter of Problem Solving

So why would an engineer want to be a lawyer? And why would a lawyer want to be an Internet marketeer?

In fact, the practice of law is very much like the practice of engineering. An engineer learns to break up complex problems into smaller ones that can be solved. This same sort of abstract thinking is involved in the practice of law, particularly intellectual properly law, and even more particularly copyright law. A copyright lawyer may be involved in drafting contracts to license different rights associated with the copyright. For example, one publisher may be granted the rights to publish the hardcover version of a book, another publisher may be granted the paperback rights and a studio may be granted the movie rights.

Similarly, marketing and selling Internet services to businesses involves the same skill sets as trying cases before a jury. An Internet salesperson and a trial attorney are both selling something intangible, both trying to remove objections, both working to a defined target audience, both emphasizing their product’s (or story’s) strengths and downplaying its weaknesses. Everything is marketing. Everything is sales.

MIT taught me how to think. Law school taught me how to refine my thinking. I firmly believe law school will build on the skills you learn in your undergraduate training, and those skills can be applied to your undergraduate discipline, to the legal field or to something seemingly unrelated. And the key word in that last sentence is “seemingly.” I mentioned above that Internet sales and trial work both involve selling skills. Selling skills also are required in landing your first job, getting engaged and buying a home.

In fact, I have a theory that one really learns only a handful of identifiable skills in a lifetime. Much of my thinking on this topic has been influenced by Mortimer J. Adler’s many excellent books, including A Guidebook to Learning: For the Lifelong Pursuit of Wisdom. So far, I’ve come up with four life skills: 1) abstract thinking, 2) communication skills, 3) creative skills and 4) mechanical skills.

So a doctor may be good at abstract thinking and mechanical skills (e.g., surgical skills) but poor at creative and communicative skills. A pilot may have strong mechanical and communicative skills. An engineer and an attorney both would have strong abstract thinking skills. And a trial attorney and Internet marketer both would be strong communicators.

So if you ever feel you have to explain your career choices to your mother or your significant other, don’t. Your time in law school will be well spent regardless of whether you ever practice law. My career path is a bit odd, I suppose. But the one thing I have learned in talking with people is that everybody’s career path is unique. There is no rule about how to apply your law degree (or any degree, for that matter); there are only the exceptions to the rule that you create.