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Submission + - Whatsapp Will Become Free, Companies Can Pay to Reach Users (

speedplane writes: The popular messaging service, Whatsapp, will soon become free (they previously charged $0.99 per year after the first). The troubling news is that to compensate for the lost revenue, companies will now be able to pay to contact users directly:

[Whatsapp founder] Mr. Koum said that his team was still experimenting with how such services could work, and that many companies were already using the messaging service, particularly in developing countries, to connect with mobile-savvy customers.

If this smells like advertising, Whatsapp vehemently disagrees:

people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today's announcement means we're introducing third-party ads. The answer is no.

Submission + - Hacking the patent system: Open source and patents

An anonymous reader writes: In an interview with, Daniel Nazer of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) talks patent law and its adverse effects on software development and innovation: Is there a practical way for a developer to be sure they're not infringing on a software patent?

Nazer: No.

There are approximately 400,000 software patents currently in force and about 50,000 new software patents every year. And each of these patents has multiple claims. One paper estimated that if all software firms conducted thorough patent clearance, the annual cost of that process would be greater than the market capitalization of the entire industry.

Firms can do targeted searches to try and minimize risk (looking at the patent portfolio of direct competitors, for example), but they will always be at risk of surprise patent attacks.

Comment Re:not in the U.S. (Score 1) 287

lawyers will pass laws restricting that.

They already have. There are lots of rules regarding privacy, billing, and state licensing, which prohibit lawyers from using even the most basic types of technology. Working remotely, accepting payments over the internet, and storing documents on a cloud computers are examples of basic technological steps that face particular hurdles in the legal industry.

Comment Re:They are not "Oracle's proprietary Java APIs". (Score 1) 215

The courts last year said they sort of can (in the 9th District). So in the 9th district Oracle has copyrights (but it's still not their proprietary anything) and in the other districts nothing.

It was the Federal Circuit's decision, not the Ninth Circuit. While not binding on other circuits, the Federal Circuit is extremely influential.

Comment Re: Pin??? (Score 5, Informative) 53

fair use relates to copyright, so the court almost certainly didn't rule it was fair use

There is fair use in trademark too. Here's the quote from the judge (page 35):

After weighing the evidence presented at trial and considering the arguments made by the parties, the Court concludes that Pintrips satisfies the first two elements of the fair use analysis in that it uses the term pin “otherwise than as a mark” and “only to describe [its] goods or services.” 15 U.S.C. 1115(b)(4).

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