Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Days of Unmoderated Forums Nearing an End

The controversial decision (Az 324 O 721/5) of the German Regional Court (Landgericht) of Hamburg has led to a flurry of postings and commentary on the German legal scene.

The case involved a suit against the Heise-Verlag (Heise Publishers) for material published to one of its forums at Heise Online. Heise-Verlag removed the challenged material but refused to sign a cease and desist declaration under the argument that it was not obligated to control postings made to its forums.

We have not yet seen the text of the decision because the German courts are still back in the dark ages as far as digital publication of their court decisions is concerned. However, according to the information which can be gleaned from websites and commentaries cited below, if that information be true, the court seems to have decided that Heise Online is liable for the content of postings to its forums, with or without knowledge of their content.

The trend in law everywhere is toward more and not less liability for postings made to the internet.

Commentary in German at:

Heise Online
Kanzlei Dr. Bahr
Spiegel Online

U.S. Congress Votes Database at the Washington Post

Have you seen The U.S. Congress Votes Database at the Washington Post?

Not only do you get votes by party, state or region, but also by boomer status, gender and even astrological sign. Fun stuff.

For example, we prefer the European approach which keeps sex out of politics - it is an unwritten rule. There may be good reason for this. Only 1 of 9 of the Senatorial females voted for Clinton's impeachment. Looks like the envy was almost all on the side of the males. We can see this anthropologically, rather than politically, and then those events make more sense.

What about the confirmation of John G. Roberts, Jr. of Maryland to be Chief Justice of the United States? Roberts, born January 27, 1955 (Aquarius), was lucky that not all Senators are Scorpios, as these voted 6 for and 6 against him. Do those two astrological signs among the males not get on well?

Who plays hooky the most in Congress?
Of the top 20 "vote missers" in the House of Representatives, 14 are Democrats and 6 are Republicans. In the Senate, things are a bit more even, with the top 20 "vote missers" formed by 10 Democrats, 9 Republicans, and 1 independent.

BlackBerry, RIM and NTP

J. Matthew Buchanan, a patent attorney commenting at the TechnoLawyer IPMemes of January 30, 2006, has the following most interesting statement:

"It's one thing to invent the next great gizmo; it's another thing altogether to implement the invention ... to lock down a design, figure out the mechanics of manufacturing, and deliver the gizmo to the market."

People who strongly support overly broad patent rights forget that obvious truth. Many seem to want to provide alleged "inventors" in the digital field with windfall profits for things that they themselves have never earned, or to reward them excessively for implementations of general ideas or methods which such alleged inventors could never have achieved (and often did not achieve, even though they tried), and this is entirely contrary to the patent protection rationale which is merely a legislated and not a natural property right.

Patent laws are there so that an inventor (if he actually invented anything of value) is to be rewarded for HIS or HER contribution to the community, but not for contributions to the community made by others. Undeserving persons should not profit by law through the wealth created and earned by their fellows.

We desperately need sensibly drafted patent legislation, sensible granting of patents by the USPTO and sensible patent law interpretation by the courts. All of these are currently lacking.

A case in point is the patent dispute between Research In Motion (RIM, makers of the BlackBerry) and the no-product Arlington intellectual property holding company NTP, which is simply trying to profit excessively from the BlackBerry success without ever having contributed anything to that success. Barring that, NTP wants to close down the entire Blackberry operation, the rest of the world be damned. See the full story at the January 28, 2006 posting at Patently absurd by Barrie McKenna, Paul Waldie and Simon Avery.

Pure patent companies such as NTP (or EOLAS) are new social parasites of the worst sort and our patent laws should not be supporting them.

Patent and copyright laws should be reformed in such a manner that "windfall profits" for ideas or methods are expressly excluded. Indeed, the patenting of ideas should be expressly prohibited. It should only be specific verifiable and working implementations of ideas that can be patented and nothing else.

In this connection, let me give an example of the current problem. We have the following original IDEA for "Television in 3-D Space", an idea which we are in the process of patenting as follows. Numerous cameras instantly or over a period of time photograph or film (video) an object or objects, or combinations of objects, including living things, from numerous angles (back, front, side top, bottom, etc.). These signals are than continuously or non-continuously transmitted, e.g. by lasers, but through any other suitable technology, synchronously or asynchronously to a certain distance or distances into an enclosed physical construction or container or non-enclosed "free-floating" extension of a container or transmission source, which of course can have any shape, in which through which or via which chemical elements, such as gases, or combinations of elements, are excited to display certain colors manifesting the camera-made information. The result is a 3-D duplication "in 3-D and not flat space" of the inanimate object, objects and/or living figures which have been camera-filmed. The objects thus appear to be statically "real" and also move actively in 3-D space as if they were 3-dimensional, i.e. "Television in 3-D Space".

Now, our current patent law works like this. Even though we are in no position to put this "idea" into technological realization, we now merely put this patent into our patent portfolio and wait until some years down the road someone figures out how to do this in such a manner that it can be technologically implemented and sold to a wide audience for a large profit. And then we pounce and collect our fair share of OUR PATENT. That's how the current law works and that is what NTP's claim against RIM is. RIM has violated no patent of NTP, but NTP is basically alleging, hey, we thought of this first. But that is not and should not be a protectable patent.

It is really quite an absurd legal situation.

Congress and Courts, WAKE UP.
Currently, you are mere handmaidens to some of the biggest money scams ever propagated.

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