PATH: BS | Legal | Patent-A-Thon

ACLU Sues Over Human Gene Patents Curtailing Cancer Research

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Patents on two human genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers are being challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that patenting pure genes is unconstitutional and hinders research for a cancer cure.

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British Petroleum's Quest To Patent The Color Green

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The High Court of Australia has dismissed a bid by BP to have the green Pantone color 348C used in its logo registered as its trademark. Despite the setback, BP has registered the color green in over 20 countries.

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McDonald's Seeks To Patent Their Sandwiches

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[Junk Food]
McDonald's wants to own the rights to how a sandwich is made.

The fast-food chain has applied for a patent relating to the 'method and apparatus' used to prepare the snack.

The burger company says owning the 'intellectual property rights' would help its hot deli sandwiches look and taste the same at all of its restaurants.

One must logically assume then that the next step would be to patent the taste of cardboard and crap.

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Hormel Loses Bid To Own "Spam"

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[Viral Marketing]
The producer of the canned pork product Spam has lost a bid to claim the word as a trademark for unsolicited e-mails. Hormel has been trying to prevent software companies from using the word "spam" in their products, a practice it argued was diluting its brand name. Research has shown that via Google, most searches for "spam" had absolutely nothing to do with the food product.

It's a shame the spammers don't have some sort of union. This case looks like grounds for them to claim that the meat product is usurping their famous brand.

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WAL-MART Seeks To Patent Smiley Face

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Obviously when you smile, you think of Wal-Mart...

Wal-Mart is embroiled in a legal dispute over the smiley face image which it wants to trademark in the US. A Frenchman who claims to have invented the yellow smiley face back in 1968 is opposing the US retail giant's move. For some, the image is a reminder of 1970s counter-culture, for others, a useful shorthand when sending e-mails.

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USPTO Examines Clear Channel's Patent On Recording Live Music

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The US Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) today agreed to reexamine an illegitimate patent held by Clear Channel Communications. The patent -- for a system and method of creating digital recordings of live performances -- locks musical acts into using Clear Channel technology and blocks innovations by others.

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Landmark Patent Case Before the Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a patent case involving online auctioneer eBay Inc. that is part of a wider patent battle which has implications for both the software and pharmaceutical industries.

Another company claims to have the patent on eBay's "Buy it now" feature, and the case has now gone all the way to the SCOTUS.

On one side you have people and companies that feel patents have become too broad and are hurting commerce and innovation; on the other, you have powerful pharmaceutical companies, who enjoy patent protection as a means of justifying research and investment.

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Indiana Man Receives Patent For Space Vehicle

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On November 1 Boris Volfson of Huntington, Indiana, received U.S. Patent 6,960,975 for his design of an antigravity space vehicle.

Volfson's craft is theoretically powered by a superconductor shield that changes the space-time continuum in such a way that it defies gravity. The design effectively creates a perpetual-motion machine, which physicists consider an impossible device.

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Microsoft Patents Emoticons

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"Methods and devices for creating and transferring custom emoticons allow a user to adopt an arbitrary image as an emoticon, which can then be represented by a character sequence in real-time communication."

So does this mean if I type : ) and have it display I've violated their patent? Hey Microsoft, how about this emoticon: !

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Slashdot/Ziff-Davis Becoming "Scareware" Promoters

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[Get-Rich-Quick]
There are a number of certainties in life: Death, Taxes and companies with lots of resources and little innovation will try to patent derivative technology and push others around legally. The story of Microsoft's patent-mania is renown, but in a new twist we have both Ziff-Davis and Slashdot who seem to have been hoodwinked by a group that likes to spread FUD about the threat of patent litigation to sell 'Linux Insurance' to foolish corporations. Congrats. You all have been punked.

Allow me to christen this new tactic, "Scareware", the art of intimidating people through the impending threat of IP litigation.

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Microsoft Settles Infringement Case and "Loses" E-Mail Evidence

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Microsoft has agreed to pay Burst.com $60M in a settlement over Burst's claim that Microsoft entered into an agreement to learn about Burst's technology, cut them loose, then built the technology into their own media player, in defience of Burst's 37 patents. To add further irony, Microsoft failed to produce subpoena'd e-mail correspondence relevant to the case claiming the information was erased from all workstations, servers and backup files. Yea right.

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Apple Sued Over DRM Patent Violation

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As companies jockey to stake a claim in the next generation media distribution medium, the current market giant Apple is being sued by a Hong Kong company claiming that their technology violates a US patent on digital rights management. What's also interesting about this issue is that the most comprehensive info currently available is from a blog, but it appears this "blog" is basically Ziff-Davis columnists renaming their byline as a blog. Is that a new trend? Maybe more mainstream media will usurp the "blog" moniker?

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Amazon seeks to patent search history, and never delete it.

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The USPTO has published Amazon.com's patent application for Persistently storing and serving event data, a fancy way of saying Amazon wants to own the process of remembering everything a user searches on. What's even more interesting is that as part of the patent application, Amazon's version of allowing a user to "delete his search history" merely renders the information "undisplayable" but still makes the information available for other (potentially dubious?) uses. Furthermore, Amazon requested the USPTO to not make the application public.

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SCO's Days Are Numbered

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SCO, the company suing IBM claiming that Linux infringes on their intellectual property, narrowly escaped a summary judgement in what most call a grossly bogus case brought by the ailing software company that is desperate to litigate itself back into solvency.

"Despite the vast disparity between SCO's public accusations and its actual evidence - or complete lack thereof - and the resulting temptation to grant IBM's motion, the court has determined that it would be premature to grant summary judgment," Judge Kimball wrote.

However, any time now, SCO's song-and-dance will end.

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Eiffel Tower: Copyrighted!

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The Eiffel Tower's likeness had long since been part of the public domain, when in 2003, it was abruptly repossessed by the city of Paris. That's the year that the SNTE, the company charged with maintaining the tower, adorned it with a distinctive lighting display, copyrighted the design, and now claims ownership of the nighttime image of France's most famous icon. Then again, goofy tactics like this are ancient history to American corporations such as Disney who is almost single-handedly responsible for the crippling of public domain rights.

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