Friday, September 27, 2013

Playboy involved in a silly trademark fight against a parody site

It seems that now even a bulwark of free speech, Playboy, has inserted itself into trademark bullying, going after a parody site called “Party with Playboy”, link here. The site was created by a feminist group called “FORCE”, which opposes “rape culture” and probably sides with efforts to defeat sex trafficking (although that has led to issues with Section 230, as I have discussed on my main blog in the past month). 
Apparently there were issues with the service provider (May First/People Link), and EFF is reporting that the FBI erroneously seized it.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a story by Peter Higgins here
EFF has always reported that parody is widely protected by the First Amendment.  I guess I engaged in parody in the 1990s when I wrote a posting called “Heterosexuality is incompatible with military service” and paraphrased the Pentagon’s notorious 123 words, which sounded like a church litany.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Patent troll battle in Nebraska gets messy, but "frivolous" demands for license fees harass small businesses

 The battle against patent trolls in Nebraska has gotten even more complicated, according to a new story today in the Washington Post by Timothy B. Lee (link).  Nebraska’s Attorney General Jon Bruning has been named in a suit by Activision TV against a Nebraska bank. But the more controversial and seemingly frivolous litigation have come from other clients of a law firm called Franey Daniels, such as MPHJ, which demands a license fee from companies using certain scanners on a network, with a rate per employee.
The law firm appears to pressure defendants into paying questionable license fees for hard-to-verify patents to prevent the expense of litigation. 
An extreme case could occur if a blogger who got ad revenue had to pay an additional license fee for equipment in his home office.
Again, roving bloggers can become “dangerous”.  Monday night, as I rode the “surface” Red Line down Connecticut Ave in Washington DC I noticed a “Brothers” sewing machine shop.  I don’t know if it’s related to the printer sitting on my floor. I'll check it out later (lazy now).  My late mother used to try desperately to get her 1940s Singer sewing machine working again to fix my underwear. 

Wikipedia attribution link for Scotts Bluff NB, which I visited in Aug. 1994, on the Saturday of my “epiphany”.  This is still the Midwest.