Eolas Patent Rejected ?!?

Feds reject Eolas browser patent

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has invalidated a claim to Web browser technology central to a case against Microsoft, a move that could spare the software giant from paying more than half a billion dollars in damages, according to documents obtained on Friday.

The patent agency’s preliminary decision, if upheld, also means that Microsoft will not be required to make changes to its Internet Explorer Web browser that would have crippled the program’s ability to work with mini-programs that work over the Internet, such as the QuickTime and Flash media players.

I look forward to reading the decision — earlier Eolas postings

Update: Slashdot story – Feds Reject Eolas Browser Plug-In Patent

Further update: No US patent for the patently obvious, with links.

Century City

I keep seeing the ads for Century City — lawyering in 2030.

The opportunities are obvious, but I fear what lowest common denominator TV will do to the concept – Futurama meets LA Law? Or something more subtle? I, like others, will be watching to see what comes.

Want A Headache? Read This

eWeek’s latest SCO coverage purports to include a debate between a pro-SCO and an anti-SCO perspective. If you want a headache, read Rob Enderle’s pro-SCO perspective. Essentially, his argument is that IBM is such a conservative company that their lawyers would have made sure to cover the firm’s liabilities, even if those liabilities were only speculative. Since IBM didn’t do that, and since SCO has complained, IBM must have released the code in error and IBM is now fighting with everything it has, as well as colluding with other firms and setting pseudo-independents like Groklaw, in order to make sure it wins. (Yes, they are mentioned as being a part of this conspiracy!)

Of course, the alternative explanation would be that SCO is grasping at straws and is sufficiently unprincipled as to use barratry as a mechanism for survival.

From my years of OS/2 use, I have a certain perspective on both IBM and Rob Enderle. My experience suggests that IBM would not be fighting this if they really thought there were in the wrong, while Enderle’s argument depends upon the integrity of someone who argues that the SCO violates the Constitution.

I know what my gut tells me … it’ll be interesting to see what the courts decide. In the interim, I’m going to hunt through the Logical Fallacies page to see how many Mr. Enderle’s article qualifies for. So far, I would suggest Argument from Ignorance, Prejudicial Language, and Fallacy of Exclusion

Strange Harmonic Convergence

This is a bit of MIT arcana that I expect only some of you will get, but it is something that I did not know that gave me pause today: Unit of measurement elected head of standards board [Via Everything Burns]

Oliver Smoot is one of the quintessential pieces of MIT folklore: in 1962 as a pledge of Lambda Chi Alpha Mr. Smoot was flipped over 365 times to measure the Harvard bridge while his fraternity brothers marked off important milestones along the way. Smoot was deemed a unit of measurement, and the Harvard bridge listed at 364.4 Smoots plus an ear.

[…] Cut to 42 years later. Oliver P. Smoot is now chairman of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). He is being forced to step down because he has just accepted the position of president of the International Standards Organization.

Insight Into The Content Industry Hopes

Jupiter analyst David Card’s weblog entry Waiting on Janus…and Rethinking Royalties says some terribly interesting things:

(My calculations suggest one-off sales of singles carry a COGS of 82 cents to $1.17. You can get that down to 77 cents with multiple orders and payment systems like PayPal.)

The true believers (Napster, MusicNet, MusicNow) are hoping to solve the “portable rental” problem with Microsoft’s “Janus.” Janus is supposedly due soon, maybe this summer. It is secure clock DRM technology that will enable songs in a subscription service to be moved onto a device. The song expires if the user’s subscription runs out. When Jupiter Research wrote about this in June 02, we predicted that such DRM technology would gain momentum in 2005 but not reach critical mass until 2006 or later. That might have been a little conservative, but if iPod holds share, it’s probably on the money (Apple will be late, if ever, to the subscription game).

[…] Better than the wireless argument, was the case for a rethinking of rights. We need something between private and public, between mechanical and performance, to make portable rentals work. Sixty-seven to 80 cents of those COGS are royalties.

This is one of those issues they call “ongoing”: we’ve got some surveys in the field right now to re-test demand for portability & try to find out why “ownership” is so critical to music users.

I have many reactions to this

  • Janus? I find a Gateway product that has this feature, as does a Samsung device, albeit without telling me what it is. And a first pass tells me nothing over at Microsoft.com. Yet there seems to have been discussion over on usenet

  • A study to understand what customers mean when they talk about “ownership?” That should be really interesting — not to see how the result gets spun.

  • And a new legal right/licensing concept.

I really don’t like the sound of this…..

Cato Newsletter Article on Copyright

On Drawing Lines in Copyright Law [Via Copyfight]

But if millions of average movie lovers like me are considered criminals for merely copying a few of their favorite movies or individual scenes onto a different disc, then something has gone horribly wrong with copyright law in America.

Intellectual property plays a vital role in our modern Information Age economy, but we should not adopt a “by-any-means-necessary” approach to copyright enforcement. Targeted, court-based adjudication of clear-cut copyright infringement is the better way to balance the interests of consumers and creators.

It’s Friday

And this is too, too funny — even though I come late to it, I have to include a link to the God Hates Shrimp site. Another t-shirt I need to get……

Shrimp, crab, lobster, clams, mussels, all these are an abomination before the Lord, just as gays are an abomination. Why stop at protesting gay marriage? Bring all of God’s law unto the heathens and the sodomites. We call upon all Christians to join the crusade against Long John Silver’s and Red Lobster. Yea, even Popeye’s shall be cleansed. The name of Bubba shall be anathema. We must stop the unbelievers from destroying the sanctity of our restaurants.

Update: Amazingly, I forgot about this site until almost 9:00 PM.

Eben Moglen on the SCO Suits

From eWeek’s Making Sense of the SCO Suits

“You now have a little company suing four immense companies in different places on very different claims and supposing that it can take all of this on at once. My advice to potential and/or existing Linux customers who might be worried about being sued by SCO is that the lesson here is that your greatest danger of that is to be a SCO customer,” he said.