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Tag: Legal

Is the end of ‘business methods’ patents too much to hope for?

Posted by todd at 6:05 AM on March 8, 2008

It probably is, however there is conjecture that a case up before the federal court of appeals might change the patentability of business methods. Reffered to as Bilski (after the last name of the original filer), the patent was files in 1997 and was one of the first to claim a patent on a business method, and the ruling that upheld it against challenge is considered the validation of business process patents as a concept.

While the case has been heard in appeal before the new look at the facts is expected to overturn the patent. The reality is that it is possible to overturn the patent without changing the nature of methods patents, but given that this case was one of the original citations for precedent it would give a hit to the practice. Unfortunately now, there are so many other cases that could be cited as precedent it could be way too late to shut that gate without lawmakers getting involved.

The idea that a business method represents true innovation that deserves patent protection is not intellectually defenseable, but the nature of the corporate beast is to take whatever advantage they can get. If this is not the end of this sorry saga hopefully it is a nail in its coffin.

Ink Cartridge Manufacturers Get Legal Go Ahead

Posted by geeknews at 12:40 PM on October 30, 2003

The U.S. Copyright Office ruled this week that a manufacturer of low-cost, third-party printer ink cartridges can continue to make and sell cartridges for Lexmark printers. This ruling will have broad impact on the printer consumable market as alternative brands of ink cartridges may now move from the black market to retail store shelves.

Lexmark International sued Static Control Components (SCC) for copyright infringement of computer code contained in Lexmark’s printer ink cartridges, charging SCC with violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) ban on circumventing digital technology that protects copyrighted material. SCC had reverse engineered Lexmark’s software and created it’s own brand of ink cartridges for Lexmark’s printers.

Dave’s Opinion
The Copyright Office took an tack, rather than considering whether SCC had violated Lexmark’s intellectual property protection, the office ruled that the DMCA does not restrict SCC’s actions. This means that software developers may not be free to reverse engineer code if the intention is to create interoperability with another’s computer application.

With this ruling in hand, I expect that there will be a flood of third-party ink cartridges for both Lexmark and Epson printers, the two manufacturers who are most frequently faulted for imbedding chips in their ink cartridges and forcing users to buy the more expensive primary brand consumables.

Call for Comments
What do you think? Leave your comments below.

References
U.S. Copyright Office Ruling (the interesting details start on page 172)
Lexmark International
Static Control Components
Epson

California Wins Legal Case Against Spammers

Posted by geeknews at 5:01 AM on October 26, 2003

Two LA spammers were ordered to pay $2 million and received various business restrictions in Santa Clara County Superior Court, this past Friday. This is the largest judgment won by government prosecutors against senders of unsolicited e-mail. The spammers are also the object of a Federal Trade Commission suit; however, both legal cases are civil suits, so there’s not much chance that the spammers will see the inside of a jail cell anytime soon.

Since 1999, almost three-quarters of states have passed anti-spam laws, but prosecutors have brought only a handful of lawsuits; success in the legal system often requires integrating case law (past judgments), and until more criminal suits are won this catch-22 will continue. Rather than pursue criminal penalties, ISPs and frustrated individuals have been using the courts by filing suit using various laws such as consumer fraud and trespass.

Dave’s Opinion
The U.S. Senate unanimously approved an anti-spam bill this past Wednesday: the first federal legislation to tackle spam. The Sentate bill requires bulk e-mailers to indicate a valid return address, disclose that the content is advertising, and give consumers valid and working opt-out mechanisms. In addition, the bill bans the use of addresses obtained from automated mechanisms, such as web-crawling and e-mail harvesting.

Senate bill S.877, CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, also directs the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to come up with a plan for a do-not-spam registry, similar to the do-not-call telemarketing registry.

The U.S. House of Representatives is considering competing anti-spam legislation, and may have a more difficult time reaching agreement; however, I’m holding out hope for a valid and reliable do-not-spam registry by 2005.

Call for Comments
What do you think? Leave your comments below.

References
S.877 CAN-SPAM Act of 2003

Microsoft Sued Over Security Flaws

Posted by geeknews at 7:15 AM on October 8, 2003

Marcy Levitas Hamilton, a media corporation CEO, has filed suit and is seeking to class action status for her complaint against Microsoft. Hamilton says that the software giant is responsible for a cracker’s being able to steal her Social Security number’s using a flaw in Microsoft’s software.

This is a new type of complaint: holding Microsoft legally responsible for the security of its applications and operating systems because the software maker’s disclaimers against responsibility for security flaws are an unfair business practice under the laws of California since consumers have few options other than using Microsoft products.

Dave’s Opinion
This is an interesting legal argument: should software makers be held to a standard of liability similar to the standards of other major industries.

Microsoft says that Hamilton’s law suit is misdirected because the theft is the work of vandals. But I think Microsoft is missing the point — it manages the only building in town and left the door open. Shouldn’t Microsoft, as the only landlord in town, be responsible to lock the door against the vandals?

Call for Comments
What do you think? Leave your comments below.