"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Adam Smith


Sony-BMG: The Sony-BMG fiasco has demolished one argument for obtaining music legally rather than illegally over P2P networks. The RIAA advises against using file sharing networks because "file-sharers’ computers are vulnerable to the viruses infecting other machines on the P2P networks." Leaving aside just how great this vulnerability is - F-Secure reports that there are no viruses to infect MP3 audio files - Sony-BMG has handily demolished this argument by planting its own malware on users computers. [Posted at 11/29/2005 05:46 PM by David K. Levine ]

via slashdot
Microsoft has patented the idea that "a user may discover and navigate among hyperlinks through the use of a keyboard." Even if you thought the CIA and FBI are completely and utterly incompetent, you have to grant that U.S. Patent Office takes first prize. There is a rather significant missing reference to prior art in the application: the Lynx character based web browser. For obvious reasons (no mouse) this browser has always navigated among links using the keyboard - using in fact the same tab key cited in the Microsoft Patent. Two seconds research with Google (do you suppose the U.S. Patent Office owns a web browser and has heard of Google?) turns up the following history of Lynx: it was released in March 1993. Now the first web browser was released only in March 1991, while Internet Explorer was first released on August 23rd, 1995. So it seems mighty unlikely that Microsoft submitted this patent application prior to the introduction (and widespread usage of) Lynx. Shouldn't this intentional overlooking of widely available prior art be considered a form of patent fraud? [Posted at 09/05/2004 09:51 AM by David K. Levine ]

via Slashdot
Now Microsoft has patented the todolist. What next? Are they going to patent the handwritten note? [Posted at 06/08/2004 05:49 PM by David K. Levine ]

courtesy of Microsoft
The natural successor to Amazon's "one-click" patent. United States Patent 6,727,830, the "double-click" patent: "Still another function can be launched if the application button is pressed multiple times within a short period of time, e.g., double click." [Posted at 06/05/2004 11:05 AM by David K. Levine ]

via Slashdot
Microsoft patents onscreen lists [Posted at 06/04/2003 07:16 PM by David K. Levine ]

Halloween from www.youmaybenext.com
"Pangea Intellectual Properties (PANIP LLC) is suing companies all across the country. They claim that if you use graphical and textural information on a video screen for purposes of making a sale, then you are infringing on their patent. US Patent No 5,576,951. And if you accept information to conduct automatic financial transactions via a telephone line & video screen, you're infringing on their patent. US Patent No. 6,289,319." [Also see below May 13, 2002] [Posted at 10/31/2002 07:17 PM by David K. Levine ]

from Yahoo!News
"Medals, Not Money, Recommended for Organ Donors." Curious to learn the ethical rationale why doctors, hospitals, private corporations, etc. should profit from organ donations, while the owners of the organs should not, I looked on the web for the original New England Journal of Medicine article. I did not, however, read it, discovering that the NEJM wants to charge $10 to read this ethical masterpiece online. Update July 10, 2002: according to this article, it is worth every penny of it. [Posted at 06/19/2002 07:18 PM by David K. Levine ]

The real pirates - Pangea Intellectual Properties [Posted at 05/13/2002 07:23 PM by David K. Levine ]

from Paul Stack
"Dear Mr. Murphy. I represent Agfa Monotype Corporation and International Typeface Corporation. The program you are distributing on your website which allows a person to change the embedding restrictions on a font has been brought to my attention. The distribution of this program, whether for free or for a fee, infringes my client's federal copyrights in their TrueType programs." See Tom Murphy's page for the entire correspondence and see what is wrong with (1) the DMCA, (2) the legal system. [Posted at 05/01/2002 07:24 PM by David K. Levine ]

From the Authors Guild:
"Dear Mr. Bezos:
We are writing ... to express our grave concern that Amazon’s new method of marketing used copies of recently published titles will significantly harm sales of new copies of those titles." [Posted at 04/16/2002 07:29 PM by David K. Levine ]

from the US Patent Office:
The "toast" patent number 6,080,436 seems to be real. The patent results at http://patft.uspto.gov are so absurd that I wonder if this is a real site or some sort of parody. [Posted at 04/16/2002 07:25 PM by David K. Levine ]

from the US Patent Office:
"A method of swing on a swing is disclosed, in which a user positioned on a standard swing suspended by two chains from a substantially horizontal tree branch induces side to side motion by pulling alternately on one chain and then the other. " [Posted at 04/09/2002 07:26 PM by David K. Levine ]

from www.boycottadobe.com
"Russian programmer Dmitry Sklyarov was arrested by federal agents in Las Vegas, Nevada. His crime: pointing out major security flaws in Adobe PDF and eBook software." Special shame to Adobe and the FBI for this one. If you want to find out more about this latest exhibition of copyright absolutism, visit Dmitry Sklyarov's company at www.elcomsoft.com [Posted at 07/16/2001 07:26 PM by David K. Levine ]

Too good to pass up: you may have heard that J. M. Smucker recently patented the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. But did you know that toast has been patented? The patent number is supposedly 6,080,436. I cannot currently check on this. Delphion who used to provide patent information now requires a subscription (seems fitting); and the US Patent offices reports that its search system isn't working and it doesn't know when it will again [Posted at 06/20/2001 07:26 PM by David K. Levine ]

Article at Gamasultra.com:
"Worlds.com, a 3D virtual reality entertainment portal on the Internet, today announced that it was awarded U.S. patent 6,219,045 for its scalable 3D server technology from the United States Patent Office. The Company believes the patent may apply to currently, in use, multi-user games, e-Commerce, web design, advertising and entertainment areas of the Internet. " What a great idea: patent stuff that is already in use...Saves the cost of inventing something new, and the risk that no one will make use of the idea [Posted at 04/25/2001 07:27 PM by David K. Levine ]

Press release from PumaTech:
"The new patent (U.S. Patent No. 6,219,818) applies to the use of checksum comparisons to determine whether Internet documents have changed. The Company filed for the patent on February 18, 1999." And it isn't even April Fools Day. Nor a glorious day for the Patent Office - they should have read section 9.4 of the HTTP 1.1 Specification from January 1997... [Posted at 04/23/2001 07:28 PM by David K. Levine ]

From The Register:
You may recall the SDMI sponsored a public challenge to crack their watermarking technology. Edward Felten's team at Princeton cracked the watermarking, while refusing to enter the contest in order to avoid signing a non-disclosure agreement. Here is SDMI Foundation mouthpiece Matthew Oppenheim response to the planned presentation of their research at an academic conference: "Any disclosure of information gained from participating in the Public Challenge....could subject you and your research team to actions under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act." If you are interested in what the SDMI is so eager to suppress, click here [Posted at 04/21/2001 07:28 PM by David K. Levine ]

From the Australian Sunday Telegraph:
"FORWARDING an e-mail to friends, family or colleagues without permission from the sender is illegal from today and could result in severe penalties. New laws set out maximum penalties of five years' jail or fines of $60,000." (This is denied by the Australian Attorney General.) [Posted at 03/04/2001 07:29 PM by David K. Levine ]

From pigdogs:
Concerning Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, a public domain work recently reformatted for the Adobe e-book reader: "A set of restrictions was attached to the reformatted edition of the book. One may not copy, print, lend, or give the book away. But best of all, one is forbidden from reading the book aloud." [Posted at 12/13/2000 07:30 PM by David K. Levine ]

Commentary by James Randi:
"I was inundated by notices about yet another ridiculous decision on the part of the US Patent Office...The present invention takes a transmission of energy, and instead of sending it through normal time and space, it pokes a small hole into another dimension, thus, sending the energy through a place which allows transmission of energy to exceed the speed of light." The mirror image of patenting stuff already in use: patent stuff that can't possibly work...Wonder what the licensing fees are? [Posted at 03/27/2000 07:27 PM by David K. Levine ]

From the ABANetwork:
"Since April Fools’ Day 1997, Miller has had rights to a "putting method in which the golfer controls the speed of the putt and the direction of the putt primarily with the golfer’s dominant throwing hand, yet uses the golfer’s nondominant hand to maintain the blade of the putter stable." Patent No. 5,616,089 [Posted at 05/25/1997 07:30 PM by David K. Levine ]