Twenty years ago today, my book “The Legal List” was acknowledged as a “Top 5%” site by Point Communications, which was later acquired by Lycos. The Lycos Top 5% archives, like many old web pages, have fallen victim to link rot, something that few of us on the web at that time every imagined would happen.
I did save HTML versions of the review, and I have been able to cobble together a screenshot of what the web page looked like (minus the background image and the Ford ad):
And here is the original review, using the original HTML:
An absolutely mind-boggling resource for Internet legal eagles, this online “book” by Erik J. Heels offers a briefcase full of law-related government, educational and corporate links. Legal resources in all 50 states, plus an amazing variety of resources from Jewish law professors to Kansas attorneys. Not incredibly exciting, mind you; just relentlessly complete.
LawLawLaw is about technology, law (mostly patents and trademarks), baseball (mostly Red Sox), and music (mostly rock). Besides being an attorney, I’m good at spotting trends, connecting people on social networks, fixing things, building treehouses, and a handful of other things.
I try to keep LawLawLaw short (fail), relevant (win), and timely (draw). That is all.
Clock Tower Law Group [Patent Law | Trademark Law]
2 Clock Tower Place, Suite 255, Maynard, MA 01754
phone: 978-823-0008 | fax: 978-246-0256 http://www.ClockTowerLaw.com
“The person who says ‘it cannot be done’ should not interrupt the person doing it.” – Chinese Proverb
Technology, Law, Baseball, Rock ‘n’ Roll
From late 1995 to early 1996, I was the Director of Internet Product Development for American Lawyer Media (ALM), a leading legal media company including Counsel Connect (an online service for lawyers) and CourtTV. ALM was trying to figure out this whole Internet thing, and I was trying to help them. One project that we tried was called the Internet Concierge, where I would answer questions from Counsel Connect users, via email, about law and the Internet. It occurs to me that, 16 years later, I’m doing pretty much the same thing! Except this time it’s for Clocktower clients. The more things change.
Technology progresses faster than the law. Always has, always will. It makes the in-between times (like now) interesting.
Copyright law is for litigators, so Clocktower does not do copyright law. (We try to keep our clients out of litigation.) But of the three areas of IP law (patent, trademark, copyright), it’s the most fun to write about. So here we go.
There have been a lot of famous Internet-related legal disputes in my lifetime. Starting with 1994’s infamous Green Card Spam controversy, the first massive commercial Usenet spam event. Since then, lawyers, law enforcement, old media, and new media have been trying to figure out whether (and the “whether” thought belongs mostly to the old media crowd) and how to adapt to the Internet. Here is some bonus reading material for those so inclined:
The case of FunnyJunk vs. TheOatmeal will, I predict, go down in history as one of the more epic Internet-related legal battles. I delayed the publication of this newsletter to try to include the latest info. For publishers and legal scholars alike, the dispute is an object lesson of how – and how not – to act on the Internet. The headlines speak for themselves:
Due to changes in patent law enacted as part of last year’s so-called patent reform, Clocktower is advising clients that, starting in September 2012, the one-year grace period under US patent law no longer exists. In other words, if you want to get a US patent, then you should file your patent application before launching the product (where “launch” is defined as sale, offer for sale, publication, or public use of the product).
Patent law exists. Just like tax law exists. And just as you can itemize your personal tax deductions to maximize your tax refund, you can take advantage of patent law to make your business wealthier. Or you can file the short form.
But IP lawyers, IP maximalists, and the USPTO need to tone it down with the rhetoric. There are many valid reasons to get a patent, and I, as a patent law practitioner and adjunct patent law professor, still believe in the ideals of the patent law system. But let’s not fool ourselves. Patents, by themselves, add little value. At best, patent lawyers can justify their existence by saying that they help smart companies produce products and services that add value, stuff that you can actually measure as part of a country’s GDP. Smart companies may have some patents, and those patents may help them win disputes with other companies. But smart companies don’t get patents based on the idea that the patents themselves will cause them to succeed. That’s like buying a BMW to try to get rich. Instead, be a smart company, take advantage of existing laws, and produce cool products. Cool products that actually add value to society.
Here are a bunch of examples of how folks confuse the notions of causation and correlation. I will admit that probably and statistics (including especially conditional probability) was one of my favorite subjects at MIT.
In-Case-You-Missed-It Stuff: Clocktower And Its Clients
Clocktower is grateful to have great clients doing great things, even as we all collectively struggle to recover from the Great Recession. Here are updates on Clocktower and its clients since the last LawLawLaw newsletter.
Rick Klau: Success And Luck (2012-06-07)
In 1992, I wrote the first book published simultaneously on the Internet and in print. That book, The Legal List, gave me my 15 minutes of fame and launched my career, first as a marketer of Internet things, then as a lawyer of Internet things. I have always attributed my success to two things: (1) above average writing skills and (2) perfect timing. Another word for #2 is ‘luck.’ This article repeats the point that if you’ve had success, then you’ve probably had a lot of #1, but you’ve also had a lot of #2. So be proud of #1, but also be humble about #2.