Monday, August 19, 2019

Can you get sued (successfully) for calling a company a patent troll?

There is some controversy going on with Twitter on whether a patent “troll” could sue a speaker for defamation for calling the company a “troll”.
Here is the basic tweet, from Bill Donahue. 

A state judge said, well, no, because the characterization of a company as a “troll” is an “opinion”, not a fact.

Tim Lee (Binarybits), who writes for ArsTechnica and whom I know from my days in Minnesota (when he was a student at the U) is not as aggressive as Electronic Frontier Foundation in assuming that every company that buys patents is a “troll”.  

Ed Mullin of EFF offers an analysis of the New Hampshire Supreme Court case. 

Monday, August 12, 2019

Uniform Rapid Suspension domain name policy seen as a threat to some non-profits

Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Mitch Stolz, in a relatively long and detailed article posted Aug. 6, warns about a new streamlined procedure for suspending domain names registered in bad faith, called Uniform Rapid Suspension (URS) being applied to “.org” (which has been around since 1985).  This gives new powers not only to ICANN but also to PIR, the Public Interest Registry.

EFF argues that some non-profits could be exposed to sudden loss of their websites, which would mean registering new ones and getting them into search engines and getting the public to find them.
But there is also a problem with the idea that non-profits are losing control of the debate to individual speakers (even like me) who don’t like to be encouraged to work through them.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Trademark case involving urban homesteading illustrates the risk that one group could monopolize public discussion of a problem if allowed to

It’s been a while since I did a post on trademark, but I wanted to mention a problem back in 2017 about attempts by certain groups (Dervaes) to hamper discussion in blogs and books about urban homesteading by trademarking the term, as explained in this March 2017 press release

Affected parties included Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, co-authors of “The Urban Homestead: A Guide to Self-sufficient Living in the Heart of the City”, a topic that would sound relevant to climate change, for openers. I note this today as CNN reports a new warning today on the way we grow food and eat it – food is getting harder to grow.

By similar reasoning, I could theoretically have tried to monopolize discussion of gays in the military with my "do ask do tell" series over the past two decades.  

The blog that I found associated with the group is simply called “Urban Homestead” so I don’t know why it would have felt motivated to issue a formal trademark.  Maybe it was perceived self-protection.  The group has a 2009 film called “Homegrown Revolution” which I’ll probably use on my movies blog later.