Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Blue Ray Thoughts

Finally, someone out there can offer real, hands-on account of the Blue Ray experience. Ever since the industry announced going into this direction, it appeared as if thing were going into a twilight zone. I am not a gamer, though I have a supermodded hyperclocked PC which serves everything else except videogaming purposes, I have been contemplating replacing my DVD/CD drive which has broken down through non-use, a vicitm of USB dongles. At Raging Tech I had a glimpse into Blue Ray and its relative utility. I guess its major thrust is at the movies. Somehow the blogger inspires trust, considering his resume (see his personal 8 Random Facts). Literate, perspicuous, and savvy. I understand that a standalone, dedicated Blue Ray player would be perfect.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

SocialCardsters, Web 2.0

Just when we thought the limits to Web 2.0 have been explored, Ben Spark has come up with another idea for social blogging. He even came up with a new buzzword for it, SocialCardSter . Checking out reveals that it is especially suitable for the bloggers who are on SocialSpark and on Entrecard. The concept is about copying the blog roll and pasting it to a blog. It is also possible to add the SocialCardsters image to under one's Entrecard widget. Ben commits himself to a blogroll by dropping in on participating blogs and clicking on the blogs that are advertising. That serves to improve anyone's EC standing. Ben also tries to comment each week.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Books discussing Printed Matter Doctrine

POLICY LEVERS IN PATENT LAW by Dan Burk and Mark Lemley, Virginia Law Review, Nov. 2003, 1575 which cites In re Lowry, 32 F.3d 1579 In re Gulack, 703 F.2d 1381 Page 1672: "The Federal Circuit eliminated the long-standing rule against patenting business methods in 1998, and the related 'printed matter doctrine' is on uncertain footing as well."

FORMALISM AT THE FEDERAL CIRCUIT by John Thomas, American University Law Review, Apr. 2003, 771 which cites In re Gulack, 703 F.2d 1381 Page 788: "In keeping with this [State Street] approach, other exclusionary principles besides the business methods exception are approaching abrogation or have already met their demise. The printed matter doctrine stands on 'questionable legal and logical footing', the Federal Circuit has explained."

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: THE LAW OF COPYRIGHTS, PATENTS, TRADEMARKS by Roger Schecter and John Thomas, Thomson West, 2003 which cites In re Gulack, 703 F.2d 1381 In re Miller, 418 F.2d 1392 In re Sterling, 70 F.2d 910 Page 306: "Under the printed matter doctrine, information inscribed upon a substrate for purposes of presentation was held outside the scope of section 101. ... Although the Federal Circuit has not expressly overturned the printed matter doctrine, its early decision in In re Gulack offered that the rule "stands on questionable legal and logical footing. Later, in In re Lowry, the Federal Circuit reversed a PTO rejection based upon the printed matter rule." Also mentioned is In re Sterling.

LEGAL PROTECTION OF DIGITIAL INFORMATION by Lee Hollaar, BNA Press, 2002 which cites In re Gulack, 703 F.2d 1381 In re Miller, 418 F.2d 1392 Page 254: "Printed Matter. In re Miller and In re Gulack held that printed matter is not patentable because it is not a proper manufacture." Well, not really. For example, from In re Gulack, footnote 8: "In Royka, 490 F.2d at 985, the CCPA, notably weary of reiterating this point, clearly stated that printed matter may well constitute structural limitations upon which patentability can be predicated."

INTANGIBLE INVENTIONS: PATENTABLE SUBJECT MATTER FOR AN INFORMATION AGE by Richard Gruner, Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Jan. 2002, 355 which cites In re Rice, 132 F.2d 140 Boggs V. Robertson, 13 USPQ 214 In re Russell, 48 F.2d 668 Page 403: "Expressive content recorded in printed matter - and, by analogy, expressive content preserved in any other recording material - generally is not patentable. Printed matter that does no more than record text is not patentable because, although it may record new, useful information or otherwise convey useful or desirable contents, the printed matter does not serve a functional role except as an information recording medium." He doesn't define "functional".

SOFTWARE AND INTERNET LAW by Mark Lemley - Peter Menell - Robert Merges - Pamela Samuelson, Aspen Law and Business, 2000 which cites In re Rice, 132 F.2d 140 Boggs V. Robertson, 13 USPQ 214 In re Russell, 48 F.2d 668 Guthrie v. Curlett, 10 F.2d 725 Page 270: "For examples of the 'printed matter' rule referred to in the preceding example, see In re Rice; In re Russell; Guthrie v. Curlett. In Boggs v. Robertson, ..., the court regarded printed matter as unpatentable when it merely reduces an abstract idea to written form." Interesting bit of censorship, referring to the real old caselaw, but not citing any of the CAFC's later comments on the printed matter doctrine from In re Lowry, Royka and Gulack are cited. Most likely written by Pam Samuelson, given the Rice/Russell citations.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Just when you thought Google Docs were safe...

Just when you thought you were were safe from Google Desktop exploit, An interesting cross-site scripting (XSS) vulnerability found in the Google Spreadsheets service would have allowed attackers to gain unauthorised access to other Google services, including Gmail and Google Docs.

The vulnerability was discovered by security engineer Billy Rios , and takes advantage of nuances in the way Internet Explorer handles Content-Types for webpages.

Google Spreadsheets XSS

When a spreadsheet is saved and downloaded in CSV format, the Content-Type is set to "text/plain", thereby instructing the client's browser that the document should be treated as plain text. However, if HTML tags are entered into the first cell of the spreadsheet, Internet Explorer detects these tags near the start of the CSV document and instead deduces that it should be treated as HTML. This essentially allowed arbitrary HTML webpages to be served from, which in turn allowed JavaScript to be executed in the context of the site. A remote attacker could exploit this weakness by stealing the user's session cookies and hijacking their session.

Rios points out that Google cookies are valid for all sub domains. This means that when a user logs in to Gmail, the Gmail cookie is also valid for other Google services, such as Google Code, Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets, and more. Cross-site scripting vulnerabilities in any of these sub domains can allow an attacker to hijack a user's session and access other Google services as if they were that user.

Google has fixed the vulnerability discovered by Rios and there have been no reports of the vulnerability being exploited by attackers.

Monday, April 14, 2008

US Government responds to the idea of patenting movies

It is enough of the creative minds out there to create ideas of patenting movies. (Read the post). (adapted from Greg Aharonian) The US Patent Office just sent out a Response to the first of four movie plot patents submitted by patent lawyer Andrew Knight. The Response is a request for more prior art from Mr. Knight, which is mostly a 103-obviousness concern (with the presumption that his specific plot is 102-novel). Since the Detailed Description has to be 112-ish enough to enable an obviousness determination in light of the prior art, with no 112-clarification questions in the Request, the initial concern of the patent examiner seems to be mostly obviousness-related. This may not mean that the PTO accepts the 101 statutory nature of movie plot patents, with a 101 rejection to appear later in the first Office Action. Still, if the PTO was looking for an easy rejection, a simple 101 First Office Actioni rejection, while not justified, would also not have been unreasonable. It may be that in light of other arguments, the PTO is thinking that maybe fighting movie and music patents, in the long run, is a losing battle (and it is) especially if the 101 arguments are based on nonsense, caselaw pathetic, arguments such as those found in last summer's MPAA submission to the PTO on "functionality" (may that submission find a first use when printed on multiple sheets of toilet paper). Another interesting note: the patent is being examiner in Art Unit 3714, which is for Education and Amusement. Somewhat appropriate, but given the general electro-technical nature of modern movies, maybe not the best match. But if the PTO is going to open to more patenting of the arts, it needs new Art Units (with examiners with degrees in the arts) and new Classification Classes (using classifiers with knowledge of the arts). What follows is the bulk of the text to the PTO's first Response. **** Application/Control Number: 10/722,473 Art Unit: 3714 DETAILED ACTION Request for Information Under 37 CFR 1.105 1. This is one of four related applications (applications numbered 10/722,473, 10/846,544, 10/861,849 and 10/869,082). In each of these applications, Applicant seeks to obtain a patent for a fictional plot or storyline. Applicant has acknowledged that in doing so, he seeks to open up an entirely new area for patent applications. It therefore behooves the Office to have all of the facts concerning the case before rendering an opinion regarding patentability. 2. Furthermore, storytelling is of immemorial antiquity. Throughout recorded history, man has told stories. No doubt storytelling antedates recorded history. One can easiy imagine our Neolithic ancestors lounging about the case spinning yarns. 3. The point is that for tens of thousands of years [greg note: except for creationinsts], people have been telling stories. Each of these stories has a plot. None of these plots will appear in the patent literature. Nor is it possible for the Examiner to search more than a miniscule portion of the prior art - certainly no meaningful search can be accomplished without further information. (not necessarily true, since there are some good plot databases on the Internet, such as IMDB - Internet Movie Database. But this statement is more an examiner's plea for the PTO to not make the mistake they did with biotech and software and bizmet patents, which is to seriously worry about prior art problems decades after the first such patents are filed.) 4. Therefore, in order for Examiner to do an adequate examination of Applicant's invention [note: does this imply that movie plots can be invented under 101?], Examiner requests the following information: a. Whether a search of the prior art was made, and if so, what was searched. b. A copy of any non-patent literature, published application, or patent (U.S. or foreign), by any of the inventors, that relates to, or has a plot/storyline similar to, the claim invention. c. A copy of any non-patent literature, published application, or patent (U.S. or foreign) that was used to draft the application. d. A copy of any non-patent literature, published application, or patent (U.S. or foreign) that was used in the invention process. e. Identification of any use of the claimed invention known to any of the inventors at the time the application was filed notwithstanding the date of the use. f. A copy of any publication of which the Applicant is aware concerning these applications. [note: if Mr. Knight signed an NDA to view one or more publications relevant to his application, is he forced to violate the NDA and submit such information to the PTO?] g. Identification of any court case that Applicant contends provides legal precedent for a grant of patent rights to the application. [note: easy to partially answer this question: EX PARTE LUNDGREN!!!!!!!!!! Mr. Knight has my permission to send a copy of my patenting movie/music article to the PTO. Also, STATE STREET - movie plots are big business!] 5. Examiner realizes that it may prove difficult to provide some of the non-patent literature that might have been used to develop the plots in question. For instance, it might not be practical to submit an entire novel or a motion picture in response hereto. In those cases, Applicant should identify the non-patent literature and provide a synopsis of the plot or other pertinent information. If possible, Applicant should provide copies of any particularly relevant passages. 6. This Requirement for Information under 37 CFR 1.105 is made without an action on the merits and has a shortened statutory period of two months for reply. Applicant may extend the time period for a reply up to six months in accordance with 37 CFR 1.136(a).

Friday, April 11, 2008

Microsoft's iPhoney patent is phoney

Microsoft's new iPhone patent is probably a piece of pure excrement, once you subtract out all of the nonsense in claim 1 and focus on the last two clauses that might be an invention, except for the fact that the patent ignores tons of prior art. The Microsoft patent is: United States Patent 7,225,409 Graphical user interface for a screen telephone (filed August 1999, based on August 1998 provisional) and the only possible "innovation" (someone can explain that to a company that thinks innovation is putting a touch tablet in a coffee table) are the last two clauses of claim 1: and wherein execution of the one or more methods of the application programming interface is responsive to the input from the application for customizing the customizable visual user interface, wherein the telephony module includes an operator agent for determining a media mode of an incoming call. So Microsoft is proud to have invented a customizable telephony app that switches handlers depending on the type of incoming call. This patent so outraged a discriminating member of the patenting community, that he reviewed the filewrapper, and found out the "innovation" is even less - just the last clause, since the examiner rightfully argued the rest of the claim was anticipated by an earlier patent, U.S. patent 5850433. Pathetically, and as an abuse of the PTO's resources, it took Microsoft 8 (non-final) rejections to get this allowance. Worse, this last clause is invalid in light of yet another patent, 5,493,609, the abstract of which talks about media mode switching for incoming calls: A telecommunication system provides voice and data communications over a conventional telephone line that can be dynamically switched from voice mode to any of a plurality of data modes (e.g., fax, modem, or VoiceView protocols) during a single conversation. Each station includes a telephone for voice communications and switching means for selectively connecting the telephone to the telephone line in voice mode and disconnecting the telephone while operating in one of the data modes. A modem provides data communications over the telephone line in any of a plurality of data modes. Voice is the default mode of operation. Prior to switching into a data mode, the originating station first transmits a start signal over the telephone line that includes a mode signal indicating one of the data modes. If a station detects a start signal transmitted by a remote station, a controller directs the switching means and modem to automatically switch from voice mode to the selected data mode in preparation for receiving data from the originating station. The stations also can also query one another to exchange information on their respective capabilities. Now, the switching goes on outside of the conventional telephone, but it is trivial and KSR-like obvious-to-try move the switching into a computer telephony application (for which there is also prior art). So after 8 (non-final) rejections, Microsoft gets a patent claim that with a little more searching can be invalidated. And Microsoft knows this. So why is Microsoft utilizing limited PTO resources pursuing such crap? It is yet another example of Microsoft's lack of interest in patent quality, and makes a mockery of Microsoft's participation in IBM's scam of a prior art project, scam in that both companies could better support patent quality by doing better searches for their own patent applications, instead of abusing the PTO. Both companies lie about their support for patent quality, one reason they are silent on people who lie about their professional experience to become PTO (Deputy) Directors (as if you thought I could resist the sarcasm!)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

George Lucas to patent movies and music

Wall Street Journal, page R6, on 18th of June 2007 has an interview with George Lucas, the inventor of the "Star Wars" industrial complex (it is, isn't it?). Here some of his answers, with comments. Lucas: Painting, music, any kind of art form is essentially technological. The most important part is to be able to communicate emotions. That is the key to what we do.
Greg Aharonian would ask: who is more qualified to assess whether the arts are technological, comprising technical effects: a master artist like Lucas, on non-artistic, non-engineering judges and policies makers in the USPTO, UKPO, EPO, and courts? I think Lucas. Maybe some aspects are mostly "non-technological", whatever that means, but then - who cares - LUNDGREN!! Especially if one considers the growing avalanche of papers in science and engineering journals on the production of the arts. "Painting, music, any kind of art form is essentially technological." It is - Lucas is right. And technology is subject to the patent system.
Lucas: I liken digital technology to going from fresco to oil painting. If you are doing a fresco, you needed about at least two dozen people. It was done by candlelight, and it was very hard to do. The fact that they can make it consistent over a long time is a marvel. But if you use oil paints, you can go outside. You can see the light play on your subject, which completely revolutionized art [a technology revolution]. At the same time, if you don't like what you're doing, you can paint right over it and start over. You can't do that with frescoes.
With film, that's what happened. It used to be [with] film, you went out and shot it, whatever you got was what you got. Sometimes people would sit out there for days and days and days trying to get it right because they knew they only had one shot at it and they weren't gong to be able to come back.
With digital technology, we can go in and shoot it, the way would an oil painting. Then you can go back to your studio and touch it up. You can completely manipulate it. It's much more like a painting than it is like photography.
It's also more like a circuit diagram, a computer program, architectural design - you can completely manipulate it. And you can have libraries of stock components, which when functionally combined can be automatically optimized. Etc., etc., etc. - Lucas is talking about engineered production - technology, which everywhere else is protected with patents.
Q: "Jurassic Park" was shot entirely digitally? LUCAS: No, but the dinosaurs were digital. Compared to stop motion, which is what we did before, they [the digital versions] were so real looking that that was the breakthrough. A technological breakthrough. LUCAS: We could actually create real things digitally that would fool anybody. [Then] I said I want to shoot digitally. I can cut digitally. I can do the effects digitally. I want to work the whole way digitally.
That is, the whole way technologically. And new articles of manufacture are patentable.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Patenting Ergonomically

I have been thinking about remodeling for years. I have admired Brinks Hofer Gilson et al.'s classic American style, which predisposed me to stay and chat with their paralegals and have some of their own coffee brew of their own invention. Then, at a patent boutique, I saw a great Eurostyle interior. I loved it for being so light and functional, however, it made me daydream of Frankfurt and Shprockets.
Then I found at Spacify exactly what I have been looking for. The solution is OFFICE FURNITURE. Just the right look for a creative, personal, yet very professional environment, from boardroom to reception room, my own office, and our coffee lounge. I think this photo captures both decor and furniture style I am looking for:
File cabinets. How about peace of mind through departing from a conventional sheet metal file cabinets? This one is neutral, yet comforting for someone like me, an overachieving, scatterbrained procrastinator who gets gets easily annoyed by having to grab a plain squarish handle and slide a latch just to open a file cabinet. I look at this and imagine myself working at an ad firm, not a patent mill.
I think this chair is right for the reception area and our lounge as well.
Haven't we been talking about Buster Bob? They call it a Buster Bobo! What a coincidence! It goes well with the black espresso machine we ordered from Austria:
Our chief paralegal has been moonlighting as an interior decorator.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Hawaii claim

From a dependent claim in a software patent application that at first glance appears idiotic, but isn't. The application deals with methods for electronically transmitting files - U.S. Pat. App. 20070226345, "Automated document processing with third part input". Justify Full Claim 7 reads: 7. The method of claim 1, wherein the terminal is located in Hawaii. Huh!? Who cares where a terminal is located in a distributed processing method and system? The PTO cares: [0005] For certain patent related filings, such as an RCE, the filing may be made later if faxed from a later time zone with a Certificate of Facsimile Transmission. So if you are in the continental U.S., and it is past midnight, just send your document to a lawyer's terminal in Hawaii, and have the lawyer fax it to the PTO from their time zone. Groovy! But not encompassing enough. Alaska is behind Pacific Coast Time as well, so the claim could have just as easily read "in Hawaii or Alaska". Anyway, one place where a really narrow claim make sense. Unfortunately, the claim is invalid based on prior art. Someone contributed this: John White of PLI always tells his prospective Patent Bar students that if everything else fails, you could open shop above the post office in Hawaii, and fax/mail responses, apps etc. for others to the USPTO! (I theard it in 2001). and If any one wants prior public use on the fax by third party from Hawaii, I did that in 1997 when my printer broke down and I was 15 minutes late to the Minneapolis airport 24 hour Post Office. Went back to the office, called Kinko's in Honolulu, faxed them the filing and paid them $100 to drive to airport and put it into Express Mail to get my date! :) The filewrapper (a public document) will contain all of the documentation for this anticipatory transaction - the first time a filewrapper itself qualifies as prior art.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Last minute sermons: the source

Busy Christian ministers and teachers find that they simply have no time to write sermons, they can always turn to, a site started by Bob Austin. He started the site to provide a last-minute service for a clergyman in need of a sound, ready-to-deliver sermon. A typical sermon offered on the site can be preached in between eight to ten minutes, and costs about $12.50 to download. The site’s sample sermon preaches the essence of a Passover in Jerusalem 2000 years ago. Austin goes on to preach that then, Jews awaited the arrival of their messiah, who would, according to Austin, bring in their Golden Age by vanquishing the nations of the world and installing an everlasting kingdom of David. Prior to that Passover, however, Jesus had arrived on a donkey, signifying that he was that messiah but not the military(?) one. The crowds, according to Austin, were bitterly disappointed, and feeling cheated out of the military victories, turned their backs on Jesus and asked the Roman rulers to crucify him. The sample download says that with the destruction of the Temple came the end of animal sacrifices, which was God’s demonstrating his never-changing, unending love for humanity. Romans, maintaining law and order, had to comply with the public sentiment and crucify the troublemaker. After all, they crucified hundreds of Jews years before just to make sure the crowds would learn the lesson and forget the idea of rebelling against the Roman rule. Austin says that preachers are getting bogged down with their shepherding tasks as the writing of sermons is gradually sliding down the list of the daily priorities, leaving the clergyman without a sermon to deliver on Sunday. Sermons downloaded from the site come with a permission to be edited to suit the tastes of the flock. The site has a very simple structure: there is The Author, the FAQ, Free Sample, Contact and How To Buy. Excellent business idea: monetize the church.

Creative writing with New Year Cards

I have a bunch of greeting cards from the years I used to make fun of people on Chinese New Years. I would write something like this

and ever since use the out-of-season Chinese New Year cards for reminders, convoluted greetings, hints, comments, and otherwise absurd, Ionesco-Waiting For Godot humorous messages. Imagine how many occasions, people, developments, promotions can be congratulated with a well-developed connection to a Horse (“You’ve been a drafthorse long enough…”), Pig (“Piglet”, see below), Rabbit (“Please, Bre’r Fox, do whatever you want, but don’t throw me into that briar patch…”), Tiger (“The Catwoman has met her Big Cousin”)

Last year, after I missed the year of the Pig, on one card I had rewritten the entire passage from Milne’s Winnie the Pooh. “The Piglet went for a brief walk to visit Eeyore, when, on the way, Piglet sensed the presence of great many bees. Knowing that Winnie The Pooh was a distinguished walk-up apartment dweller, Piglet deduced that a foreigner must have appropriated all the honey and set up his penthouse in the crown of the Great Oak Tree. Congratulations on your debutante’s studio loft. I will be more than overjoyed to be the bartender at your housewarming party.”

Though I really prefer standard New Year cards, especially with fireworks on them. This one is my favorite, fireworks in Las Vegas

I found this one at Custom Photo Cards, it has that you-are-there at the fireworks feel to it.

this one I found on their page here.

The New Year’s firework cards have a great advantage: you can send them out just about any occasion – a steady girlfriend, brand new position, a reason to open the stashed bottle of champagne, watch the 4th of July fireworks from the hot tub, thanks for a wonderful evening. And you can write on the balls of fire themselves, or on the black – with pearly, metal flake nail polish. To the "Happy New Year" you can always add "Of Loft Living", "Of Being Away from folks," etc.

Porn-free has successfully addressed the problems associated with cyber pornography, which represents most of web’s domains and traffic. The site’s writer provides a meticulous analysis of Internet pornography’s aspects. There is a detailed study into the psychological stimuli behind viewing pornography, with further analysis of how Internet technology serves to exacerbate the addictive nature of this activity.

For example, the site discusses simple psychological tricks that are used to lure surfers to view newer facets of porn, such as child porn, homosexuality, bestiality, necrophilia, masochism, rape and sadism, with tangential excursions from each of these interests.The Statistics page is full of carefully referenced and compiled data on the business, traffic and history of Internet pornography. There are fascinating insights in the effect that adult sites play on workplace environment, high technology, child education and identity security.

Though the primary writer of the site appears to be an outspoken Christian, adding religious opinion to the site’s otherwise almost academic-like work, the argument against pornography is masterfully presented, rational, and extremely sober while being positive. The positive atmosphere of the analysis also serves to achieve surprising, fresh ideas about tackling problems associated with porn, and offers equally interesting solutions to staying free of the addiction.Again, despite its devotionally Christian tinge, the site provides incredible help for a porn addict, as well as for parents of children exposed to internet porn.

TIPS against stagflation

Since both the net and the blogosphere is inundated with financial advice, I found that there only few dynamic, live blogs that actually offer practical advice. To compound the need for non-nonsense advice is that everyone's portfolio is as unique as a portfolio owner.

I found that with he help of George Divel and his blog I could make sense of Treasury paper and CDs, and moved into TIPS (Treasury Inflation Protected Securities).

TIPS perform well even in periods of stagflation, an economic condition that is fast and approaching. "If you buy a conventional Treasury, you receive the same interest payment semiannually for the life of the bond. With TIPS, the Treasury adjusts the principal value of a bond each month (with a two-month lag time) to keep pace with inflation. A higher principal value also lifts interest payments," he advises.

His investment tips like these are being updated everyday. I reviewed my portfolio and adjusted it accordingly with the tips.

I think George boils down the financial market trends and backs it up with his personal experience to learn from. Compared to other brokers, George has the best research tools as well as personal knowledge to navigate wealth planning. His approach to balance risk and tax (consider the deadline looming closer) as well as income is incredibly honest, simple and client-oriented.

Check out