Saturday, March 16, 2013

Mark Cuban speaks out against abuses of patent law and trolls

Mark Cuban has an interesting post on “Blog Maverick” about some of his early inventions (such as one in use by Netflix now), which he never patented.  He says he is passing on his working notes from the 1990s “for anyone who might face a patent troll on these topics”, including multicasting and a “personalization system” from 1998 (the good old days) that sounds like it anticipates some of what Facebook does today.  Here is the link.

There is also a “self-service hosting” idea that could actually make sense for my planned “Do Ask Do Tell” video project.

Cuban (on “Shark Tank”, which swallowed up “Zero Hour” on ABC)  says that he thinks patent law inhibits technology innovation.  Ditto.

He has also written in the past that he suspects big media companies, screaming about “piracy”, fear low-cost competition and like gatekeepers.  But of course, his HDNet and Magnolia Pictures (a lot of it run from Texas rather than Hollywood) are a significant and established presence in the independent movie market.  It could make sense even for me. 
I send on his link to EFF to see how it reacts.  

Saturday, March 02, 2013

Laminar Research (with X-Plane) hit by patent troll lawsuit for using a small amount of "free" copy-protect code

Electronic Frontier Foundation is continuing to publish stories about patent trolls, including the story of Austin Meyer, who runs a business called Laminar Research and offers a mobile product called X-Plane Flight Simulator, link here.    

Meyer says he was at a trade show when he received a cell phone call from a lawyer in Texas offering to defending him for something like a million dollars – when he didn’t even know yet that he had been sued by Unlioc, which claimed to own the source code (for copy protection) provided to Laminar by Google. 
The EFF story would (by Julie Samuels) be here

Laminar has its own account about the lawsuit (and a petition) here The link did not take me directly to his White House Petition, which I could not find quickly.  The WH site invites me to create my own petition.

There could be situations where ordinary small businesses are sued for using technology (even though they don’t sell it) that they thought had been provided free by a service provider or maybe a hosting service.  But the danger seems to arise if the technology is embedded inside something they do sell or offer.  I wonder if this could affect certain kinds of websites, social networks, or forums.  

EFF and Laminar are reminding visitors to support the Shield Act in Congress.  The closest bill that I could find is HR 6245 from the 112th, “Saving High-Tech Innovators from Egregious Legal Disputes”, link here
A Shield Act would create a “loser pays” systems for patent suits, preventing “patent extortion”.