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Comment Re:This isn't an ethical issue ... (Score 1) 949

mod parent up - this is exactly the issue: convenience. And as a Californian who tries to follow the tax laws, it kills me every year to have to manually add up my online purchases and pay a use tax. Thanks Amazon - great convenience there for me. This is basically Amazon trying to help millions of my fellow citizens avoid following the law.

Comment Re:Been on the receiving end of that. (Score 2) 121

Does anybody know if such cross-licensing agreements survive a bankruptcy and a patent portfolio sale? (I suspect not, since they're contracts with a bankrupt corp.)

Existing contracts made before bankruptcy (and that are not fraudulent attempts to avoid creditors in anticipation of bankruptcy) survive bankruptcy. Now you might not get any money you are owed under the contract, but a company can't simply void contract deals in bankruptcy. If you're licensed to a patent, you will be licensed even after the patent ownership changes hands.

Comment Re:Non-transferable (Score 1) 121

Better way to do it would be to make damages for infringement determined off of either lost profits (if you make a product) or a reasonable market-price based licensing fee. So, a troll who has never gotten anyone to pay for a license might only get a few dollars, while a university can point to their licensing contracts and get similar terms.

Do this too. What are damages based on now?

The crazy thing about this suggestion is that it is exactly how patent damages law is written right now. I quote thus:

Upon finding for the claimant the court shall award the claimant damages adequate to compensate for the infringement but in no event less than a reasonable royalty for the use made of the invention by the infringer, together with interest and costs as fixed by the court. 35 U.S.C. section 284

Lost profits or a reasonable, market-based licensing fee is exactly what the standard is now. The problem is that no one can "prove" what a reasonable, market-based license fee should be and it just gets thrown to a jury that has no idea what the reasonable award should be (jury awards $98 for every copy of MS Word due to infringement of patent on custom XML).

Comment Novelty has worn off... (Score 1) 411

I think for most users the novelty of Facebook has worn off. I noticed this myself as well. When you first join, you start getting friended by all kinds of folks you used to know. Your curiosity is very high, and it's entertaining for a while. Then the months pass. Eventually you are rarely friended by anyone new. Most friends that will join and find you already have. And you've already reached out to most you know. Then it's just an endless stream to the same old friends posting about the same old things.

Still can be useful, but the novelty has worn off.

I think Facebook's greatest flaw (and Twitter's greatest strength) is that once you hit the roof on your friend list, there are few surprises. Whereas Twitter allows serendipitous exchanges precisely because it is public. Privacy is good - but it won't challenge you as much as openness. And that may get boring.

Comment A Compromise Solution (Score 1) 581

There is a better way to solve this given that both parties have some legitimate interest they want protected. Customers want the ability to complain, providers want the opportunity to remedy complaints before permanent comments are published. So enter into a contract that says that customers will give providers a week's written notice before they publish a negative review, and an opportunity for the provider to remedy any perceived defect in the service. That kind of agreement shouldn't rankle either party too much AND would probably lead to happier transactions to boot.

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 207

From the Federal Circuit opinion describing the damages calculation: "[H]e first chose an appropriate "benchmark" in order to value Microsoft's use of the claimed invention at the time of the hypothetical negotiation. Wagner chose a product called XMetaL as his benchmark, which had a retail price of $499. To calculate the licensing fee, Wagner multiplied the price of XMetaL ($499) by Microsoft's profit margin (76.6%), based on his assumption that any licensing fee would be a fraction of the profits. Wagner then applied the 25-percent rule to this number, which assumes the inventor will keep 25% of the profits from any infringing sales. This resulted in a baseline royalty rate of $96." So basically take a specialized program that sells for $500, apply Microsoft's entire profit margin to it, and then take 25% of that. The answer to your question is that this is just a number someone made up choosing some arbitrary anchor points to make it sound superficially like "analysis."

Comment Re:Hmm (Score 1) 207

The issue here is more than about infringement or validity. One of the biggest problems in patent law is lack of predictability in how much a valid, infringed patent is actually worth. How much should Microsoft pay? Here, they're being ordered to pay $98 per copy of Word over a little used feature. Now, admittedly, Microsoft isn't appealing that determination due to some technical snafus (also a big controversy). But it's not like this is a meritorious result.

Comment No U.S. presence but lots of sales? (Score 3, Insightful) 89

I hate patent trolls as much as the next guy, but it's a little misleading to complain about being hauled into the U.S. legal system as a foreigner. U.S. patents only have legal effect for U.S. sales. If you sell significant enough quantities to make a patent suit worthwhile in the U.S., you've got a decent U.S. presence. That said, congratulations for beating a troll in East Texas - and before trial no less. Not an easy thing to do.

Submission + - Google testing voice calling in Gmail (

Tootech writes: Google could be ready to turn Gmail into a communications hub by adding the ability to make phone calls from the Google Chat interface.

CNET has learned that Google is testing a Web-based service within Gmail that will allow users to place phone calls from their in-boxes. It's launched from the Google Chat window on the lower left-hand side of a Gmail page and allows users to place and receive calls from within their contacts through a user interface that strongly resembles the one used in Google Voice.

Google has been edging in this direction for some time. Google Talk was released years ago as a VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) desktop client, and it has also spent a lot of time and money evangelizing Google Voice, a service that transcribes voice mails and allows users to have one phone number that rings multiple phones


Submission + - Microsoft fighting more than 50 patent suits (

Arguendo writes: Julie Bort at Network World reports that Microsoft's recent annual report says it is currently fighting more than 50 patent infringement suits, "10 of which are set for trial in fiscal year 2010." She speculates that Microsoft may be losing far more in licensing fees than it's gaining. "Other than calling payouts "a cost of doing business" what other option does Microsoft have but to try to collect on intellectual property on the one hand, while paying damages with the other? And if that's the case, will we see a Microsoft that becomes more aggressive to collect on intellectual property? I fear so."

Comment Re:Maybe good... maybe bad (Score 1, Redundant) 282

I recommend you read arstechnica's rebuttal of Steve Jobs's claims.

I want my five minutes back. This editorial is terrible. Jobs made a distinction between proprietary standards for content on the web and proprietary tools to access that content. This editorial completely glosses over that distinction and argues that all proprietary software is bad. Seriously? I'm all for touting the benefits of open source and free software but there's a place for proprietary software as well. If you don't like the iphone's proprietary software, buy another phone. It's not like there aren't plenty of options.

Submission + - Amazon's 1-Click Patent Survives Reexamination (

Arguendo writes: Patently-O (via helps break the news that's 1-Click Patent has apparently survived reexamination almost completely intact. The Patent Office has issued a Notice of Intent to Issue a Reexamination Certificate, which signals that the reexamination has concluded. Patently-O writes that "the USPTO confirmed the patentability of original claims 6-10 and amended claims 1-5 and 11-26. The approved-of amendment adds the seeming trivial limitation that the one-click system operates as part of a "shopping cart model." Thus, to infringe the new version of the patent, an eCommerce retailer must use a shopping cart model (presumably non-1-click) alongside of the 1-click version. Because most retail eCommerce sites still use the shopping cart model, the added limitation appears to have no practical impact on the patent scope."

Comment Re:System incapable of Justice. (Score 1) 253

In California, most defendants have a right to trial within 60 days. (Cal. Penal Code section 1382.) I'm not familiar with the details of this case, but he almost certainly waived his right to a speedy trial so that he could prepare. That's typical for defendants in high stakes cases, especially in highly technical cases or when you have an overworked public defender. You'd rather make sure you can get it right than push for trial and end up spending a lot longer behind bars.

Comment Impressive, but there are even better examples... (Score 1) 149

I can't even come close to replicating these photographs myself, but there are even more incredible examples of amateurs doing amazing space photography with relatively simple equipment. There are a couple of these geniuses in the SF Bay Area. One I'm familiar with is Rogelio Bernal Andreo. He is a fixture at astro sites around the Bay, and his photographs are simply jaw dropping. I believe most of his magic happens on the back end in the digital processing. His set up easily packs into his car.

Check some of these out:

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