Supreme Court Patent Action Today

  • Obviousness re-established as something that must be carefully considered: KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc.

    We build and create by bringing to the tangible and palpable reality around us new works based on instinct, simple logic, ordinary inferences, extraordinary ideas, and sometimes even genius. These advances, once part of our shared knowledge, define a new threshold from which innovation starts once more. And as progress beginning from higher levels of achievement is expected in the normal course, the results of ordinary innovation are not thesubject of exclusive rights under the patent laws. Were it otherwise patents might stifle, rather than promote, the progress of useful arts.

  • Microsoft Corp. v. AT&T Corp.

    Because Microsoft does not export from the United States the copies of Windows installed on the foreign-made computers in question, Microsoft does not “suppl[y] . . . from the United States” “components” of those computers, and therefore is not liable under §271(f)as currently written.

Coverage: LATimes – Patent protections tempered by Supreme Court rulings (pdf)

In a pair of decisions, one in a high-profile case that pitted Microsoft Corp. against AT&T Inc., the court limited the legal rights of inventors and gave judges more flexibility in dealing with patent lawsuits.

[…] All of them reflect a concern at the Supreme Court that the patent system has strayed too far to the side of patent owners,” said Philip Swain, a patent attorney with Foley Hoag in Boston. “They’re trying to push the pendulum back toward the middle.”

Also the NYTimes – High Court Puts Limits on Patents

Patent law experts said the ruling created a common sense standard that could have a broad impact.

“Nearly every patent that contains a combination of prior ideas is at risk because the court has dramatically broadened the standard of obviousness,” said Cynthia Kernick, an intellectual property lawyer at Reed Smith in Pittsburgh.

Later: New Patent Trial Sought by Vonage

Still Struggling…

Well, tried a suggestion I got to take care of the sluggishness (create a “clean” WordPress installation and move all the data into the new databases). Sadly, that has merely demonstrated that the problem I’m dealing with is not with the specific databases that WordPress uses. However, a “pure” HTML page loads blindingly fast, so the problem is still with the database infrastructure — I just need to dig deeper. Unfortunately, the slow performance that you see is even worse when using the web browser to post content, making it really hard for me to stay on top of things. *Sigh* Digging through my.cnf and php.ini – what fun.

Estimating the Information Content of TV Shows

Coming Online Soon: The Five-Minute ‘Charlie’s Angels’

The question probably never occurred to viewers in the 1970s and 1980s, but suddenly it is highly relevant: exactly how much worthwhile entertainment content was there in shows like “Charlie’s Angels,” “T. J. Hooker,” and “Starsky and Hutch”?

The Sony Corporation and its production studio, Sony Pictures Television, which controls the rights to those and many other relics of a distant era of television, have come up with an answer to that question: three and a half to five minutes.

That’s the length Sony has shrunk episodes down to in order to create what the company hopes is an appealing new business in retooling old shows for a new era of entertainment. Sony even has a name for these shrunken slices of television nostalgia: minisodes.

Cynics Look At The Internet

What does it mean to be a member of a community? And are we really supposed to reduce it to a market problem? Oh, for a Chance to Whitewash a Fence

Tom Sawyer, metaphor of the digital age? Or cliché? Whichever, Mark Twain’s 19th-century sprite is being name-checked a lot lately as a handy way to describe the Internet vogue du jour: exploiting free labor and content online. (Which brings to mind a reputed P. T. Barnum line. But never mind.) Excerpts follow.

Prof. Fried Smells A Rat

Of course, he’s not alone in being snookered these days, but at least he gets a platform to point it out (however more gentlemanly than I could): Supreme Confusion

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California asked whether I thought a Justice Roberts would vote to overrule Roe v. Wade. I said I thought he would not, at least not in its later, less absolute version embodied in the 1992 Casey decision, which protected against governments imposing an “undue burden” on a woman’s right to choose abortion before the fetus’s viability. I told Senator Feinstein that the formulation, and the principles behind it, had become so deeply rooted — in the law relied on not only in abortion cases but by analogy in matters as widely disparate as the Texas homosexual sodomy case, compelled visiting rights for grandparents and the right to die — that its abandonment would produce the kind of violent unsettling of the law against which respect for precedent is meant to protect.

The next year, when I testified in support of Samuel Alito, Senator Feinstein asked me the same question. I gave the same answer.

[…] Finally, the decision is disturbing for a more far-reaching reason: there are indeed cases where the court in the last few years had become truly incoherent, largely as a result of Justice O’Connor’s pragmatic and underexplained abandonment of positions she had earlier agreed to or even proclaimed on affirmative action and campaign finance. The first issue has been argued and will be decided this term of court; campaign finance is being argued this week.

If the justices eliminate the confusion and restore principle in those areas, the cry will go up that the court is simply reflecting its changed political complexion, not reasoning carefully and promoting stability and clarity in the law. And last week’s decision will lend plausibility to that charge.

[I purposely left out the paragraph immediately following the first two in the quote; because I am sure that no one needs to help to immortalize someone playing CYA on the Op-Ed pages of the NYTimes.]

Sorry, Everybody

For those few of you who are still putting up with this blog, please know that I, too, am completely frustrated with the abysmal performance of this site over the last month. I have been trying to figure out why WordPress has become so incredibly sluggish on this machine, but other than narrowing it down to the MySQL server, I’m not making a lot of headway — particularly since I do have other demands on my time.

I expect that I’ll keep pounding away at this, and maybe I’ll get it resolved. My great fear is that there’s been a mangling of the databases during the latest WordPress upgrade, and I have only retained so many backups. The fact that certain diagnostics suggest that there are some JOINs without INDEXes going on is certainly disheartening (i.e., select_full_join <> 0).

For those few of you who are putting up with the sluggishness, thanks, and I am trying. Anyone out there who has suggestions, I’m getting desperate and will listen to just about anything at this point.

Speaking of Reality; Why YouTube Isn’t It

The interesting sociological question, of course, is whether this corrosive attitude toward access to human foibles for our amusement is something that we’ve been trained in (by, say, reality TV) or something that we implicitly require in societies. I know what I hope the answer is, but I really couldn’t say: I’d Like to Get Off the Stage Right Now

But in the field of damage control, the rapid shifts in access to every personal foible and ill-considered phrase of the rich and famous is the equivalent of flying without a net.

And the truth? The truth is a diminishing resource, easily bludgeoned by the facts.

“You can say, ‘Be transparent,’ ” said Mr. Mayer, the expert in crisis control, “but you’re seeing all these things ripped out of context, that’s the scary thing about it. There is the illusion when you’re watching a video that you’re seeing the whole truth. As anyone who’s followed court cases, or been in the news business knows, looking at different outtakes you get different realities. And this powerful illusion of reality is far more misleading than any distorted account.”

Related: Sony’s going to fix copyright-infringing video sites by offering up their own fantastics one tomorrow — Sony to launch video-sharing network on Fridaypdf

Why Would You Want A Representative Image?

Hey, it works in music; why not in photography? Looking Perfect, One Pixel at a Time

Professional photographers have relied on clever hands and sophisticated software to turn a good picture into something that stands out. Now, Web sites are selling professional retouching services. For $20 to $200 or more, anyone can get a tighter stomach, smoother skin and brighter teeth — at least in an image. In addition, a wide variety of programs make it possible for the average computer user to fix basic problems.

[…] Some companies are trying to automate the process. Among them is Anthropics Technology, which makes a software program called PortraitProfessional (selling for $39.95) that gives the user about 80 ways to increase the “beauty” of a subject with algorithms that automatically shift and reshape the parts of a face.

[…] But with such a program, he said, “its power to subtly alter appearance also raises some interesting moral questions.” He has received e-mail messages that pointedly asked, “Who made you the gods of beauty?”

[…] Reputable news organizations have strict rules forbidding photographers or editors from using such tools to alter images.

But when it comes to family matters or simple vanity, the ethical equation is different.

“Most pictures are about memories,” Mr. Berend said. “They’re to be looked at years later. When you show your kids your wedding picture, it’s nice that they’re nice. Harsh reality is not always what people want.”

After all, aren’t we all the stars of our own movies?

Navigating A Minefield

European Parliament sparks criticism with IP changes

If the version adopted by the Parliament Wednesday becomes law it would cause mass confusion about the scope of the law, and would threaten legitimate software and Internet companies, as well as ISPs (Internet service providers) with sanctions including fines of up to €300,000 ($409,670) and jail time of up to four years.

The Parliament’s version of the law would apply to all IP infringements of a commercial scale as long as the infringement was done in order to obtain commercial advantage.

Rights holders, including the record industry, slammed the narrow definition. “The European Parliament has taken the wrong road in trying to define what constitutes ‘commercial scale’ and ‘intentional’ intellectual-property infringements,” said Frances Moore, regional director for Europe for the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a recording industry lobbying group.

On the opposite side of the lobby, the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) said the wording of the Parliament’s draft on the scope of the law is “weak.”

[…] Separately, the text approved by the Parliament also muddied the water regarding a clause on inciting, aiding and abetting an IP infringement. ISPs could be found criminally liable if their networks are used to breach someone else’s intellectual property, the FFII said.

In addition, the Parliament’s version of the law would apply criminal sanctions to protect unexamined database and design rights as well as trade names and copyright. Patents and utility models were excluded, to the relief of many in the technology industry and the scientific community.

A © Strategy For Developing Countries?

Make sure that it’s first world subsidiaries who are penalized? Yahoo China loses music piracy casepdf

The lawsuit filed by the International Federation of Phonographic Industries accused Yahoo China of violating copyrights because its search engine linked to sites that carried 229 pirated songs. It was filed on behalf of 11 recording companies including Sony BMG, Warner Music, EMI and Universal Vivendi.

“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” said Leong May Seey, Asia regional director for the federation. “We think it is a step in the right direction in creating a legitimate online music service in China.”

[…] Yahoo China said it would appeal and stressed its respect for intellectual property rights.

“We will appeal this decision because we believe Yahoo China’s music search service both meets and exceeds the relevant legal standards for intellectual property protection,” a company statement said. “An important principle is at stake in this case – search engine operators should not be held liable for content posted on third-party Web sites.”