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March 12, 2006

Sad, Sad [12:22 pm]

I’m not surprised by Lindsay Graham, but what’s in this for Olympia Snow? A blank check for snoops

LIKE THE CAVALRY RUSHING to the aid of the wrong troops, four Republican senators who had earlier declared battle against the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping have now proposed to give the surveillance program five years of near-bulletproof protection.

The new measure by Mike DeWine of Ohio, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Olympia Snowe of Maine would significantly expand the administration’s power to intercept U.S. citizens’ international phone calls and e-mails without obtaining a warrant — even when they have not been implicated in any crime. It also would let the surveillance continue with much less oversight than Congress demanded in previous laws.

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Ahh, Software/Business Practice Patents [11:55 am]

I also like the rhetorical twist suggesting that awarding/enforcing a patent monopoly means saying ‘yes’ to competition — Government Sides Against EBay in Patent Dispute

The case has struck a chord among many technology companies, for which patents have become critical competitive tools.

If the court finds that violating a patent automatically triggers a shutdown, “that has a big impact,” said Stephen Maebius, a patent attorney in Washington who is not affiliated with either side of the case. The issue is whether violation of a single patent should be grounds for shutting down complex software systems that millions of people depend on, he said.

[...] EBay, which also filed its brief in the case yesterday, argued that a litigant should not be able to “automatically” get an injunction. In the case of MercExchange, which ceased doing its online business in 2000, the company was not actively practicing its patent and therefore should not be able to use the threat of a shutdown as a blunt tool against a business, eBay said.

But MercExchange founder Thomas Woolston said it practices its patent by licensing it to other companies. “We compete with eBay every day with our licensees,” including Ubid.com and Autotrader.com, he said. EBay should not be able to continue infringing on patents without a license, he said. “If the Supreme Court says ‘yes’ to the injunction, they will be saying ‘yes’ to competition.”

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