Friday, December 17, 2004

Aharonian sues for software patents

IP consultant and patent advocate extraordinaire Greg Aharonian has presented a lawsuit to attempt to get a court to determine that copyright doesn't protect software adequately and that patents are sufficient protection. Aharonian edits the popular and interesting site Patenting Art, and publishes an email newsletter. It is difficult to tell if this is just a ploy or if he is serious, but Technollama promises to find out. It seems evident that he is making his claim based solely in the American developments for software patents, while many other countries are happy with copyright protection.

New issue of SCRIPT-ed

The new issue of SCRIPT-ed is now online. This issue covers a good range of issues, including an analysis of the German case that has declared the validity of the GPL.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

US Supreme Court readies P2P debate

This is where the great battle of our time will be fought. The P2P debate in the US Supreme Court is upon us, a case that will probably shape the near future of the legal validity of sharing networks.

But one must say that sharing will go on regardless of the ruling, BitTorrent is not under scrutiny here.

Costa Rican canopy tour patent troubles

Some local news from Costa Rica. The weirdest patent claim has made some of the news over here, after a Canadian patented and claimed the ownership of the "canopy tours", a great way to travel on the top of the rainforest to see the wildlife from close range. The problem is that we Costa Ricans have been using similar technologies for more than a century, which sort of invalidates any novelty claims. Besides, there is a dubious claim of patentability of business methods in Costa Rica. Now, the SALA IV (the Costa Rican constitutional court) has ruled that the patent was invalid.

Great news for canopy tour lovers.

Saturday, December 04, 2004


Sunny Costa Rica is great this time of year, so I will be heading down there for my holidays tomorrow. Updates will be few and far between.

Marvel sues City of Heroes

This is a great article by Fred von Lohmann about the surreal case of Marvel suing the makers of the popular "City of Heroes" MMORPG game. Marvel complains that City of Heroes is guilty of contributory infringement of copyright and trademark because some players in their site are creating characters that resemble Marvel heroes, such as Wolverine, Hulk and Spider-man. The argument is so ridiculous that it should not require any analysis. What is the damage to the brands if there are some gamers who also like Marvel comic characters and want to generate an avatar that resembles their hero? This is one of those cases in which abuse of IP serves only to provide bad PR for the company involved.

Marvel should not mess with comic-book geeks.

Digital trail

This is an excellent article by Regina Lynn about the dangers of Google and leaving a digital trail. We are increasingly leaving a digital footprint that tells people about our interests, opinions and tastes. People can Google and find some amazing details about who you really are. It makes one think what the world thinks of us, and everybody has googled themselves at one time or another.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Cheap Windows targets Asian markets

Reuters reports that Microsoft is targetting its cheap (sorry, "low cost") version of Windows XP to Asian markets. The stated purpose of this is to try to make Windows more appealing in emerging markets. The real reasons are: to hook home users into Windows, to try to stop the rampant piracy in Asia, and to try to redress the rise of Linux in that part of the world.

I pity the poor people who get this. If Windows XP is buggy (SP2 Anyone?), what will a cheap version look like?

Isn't wireless wonderful?

Technollama is coming to you today from the Playfair Library, where we are attending the very interesting conference named "Towards Utopia or Irreconcilable Tensions: the interface between intellectual property, competition and human rights". More reports later, but I am hoping to load the powerpoints from some of the talks later on.

Open Biotechnology

This is an interesting article in the excellent WorldChanging blog. The article looks at the possibility of using open source models in drugs and biotechnology. Although the article cites many of the possible uses for the technology, it fails to mention that the reason why this is still in "planning stages", or "gathering interest" and not in the licence drafting stage is that it is extremely difficult to translate the open source model into biotechnology.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The year of the blog

2004 has been the year of the blog. The BBC reports that the word "blog" has now been included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. The definition reads: "BLOG noun [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer."

Contrast that with Wikipedia's entry. I think that this is similar to the difference between the Encyclopedia Galactica and the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy on the subject of Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Digital divide in the U.S.

This is a rather good report in The Register that talks about the digital divide in the United States, where internet access is still the realm of the high-income white guy. The idea of the cosmopolitan world wide web is still a fantasy, as the average netizen tends to be American white guys.