Saturday, July 29, 2017

Open data comes to Syracuse; WRVO, July 27, 2017

Ellen Abbott, WRVO; Open data comes to Syracuse

"Mayor Stephanie Miner says this kind of open data policy is the wave of the future.

"This is how people are thinking about governmental services in terms of transparency. And now that resources are as tight as they are. This will help you measure the effectiveness and efficiency of policies put into place."

A Boston firm labeled a ‘patent troll’ by some says it is actually performing a service; Boston Globe, July 29, 2017

Andy Rosen, Boston Globe; A Boston firm labeled a ‘patent troll’ by some says it is actually performing a service

"Whether known by the pejorative “patent troll” or the more plaintiff-friendly “patent assertion entity,” such repeat claimants generally keep a low profile.

Not Blackbird. Verlander and her staff display their pictures, bios, and links to social media on a company website that says Blackbird helps inventors who are outmatched by big companies with little incentive to respond to claims not backed by expensive lawyers.

Verlander sees herself as doing a service to combat rhetoric by what she calls the “infringer lobby,” which seeks to conflate all patent assertion work with the more dubious pursuits of unscrupulous trolls. There are bad actors, she said, on all sides.

“If in the end you can’t reward someone for their invention regardless of whether they make a product, then you’re discouraging people from inventing, and that’s bad,” Verlander said."

Friday, July 28, 2017

Sci-Hub’s cache of pirated papers is so big, subscription journals are doomed, data analyst suggests; Science, July 27, 2017

Lindsay McKenzie, Science; Sci-Hub’s cache of pirated papers is so big, subscription journals are doomed, data analyst suggests

"Q: What were the main findings of your study? 
A: The most simple result was that Sci-Hub contains 69% of all scholarly articles. We also found that the site preferentially covers articles from closed-access publishers and high-impact journals. [Editor’s Note: A breakdown can be found here.] I think it's interesting that Elsevier and the American Chemical Society had some of the highest coverage and those are the publishers that have sued Sci-Hub. Maybe they realized that basically their entire corpus was in Sci-Hub. There were a lot of journals where Sci-Hub has every single article.
Q: What about the other 31%?
A: Just because an article isn’t in Sci-Hub’s database, that doesn’t mean it can’t get it for you. We estimated that Sci-Hub was able to fulfill requests 99% of the time—that suggests the 31% of articles that aren’t covered by Sci-Hub are things that people really aren’t requesting."

Caution: misleading notices; U.S Patent and Trademark Office, July 2017

Don't be fooled by potentially misleading offers and notices from private companies

Some trademark applicants and registrants have paid fees to private companies, mistakenly thinking they were paying fees required by the USPTO. We do not endorse any of these private companies and you are not required to use them.
Keep reading for information on potentially misleading offers and notices—also called solicitations—and how to identify them. You can also watch our "Solicitation Alert" video below. 
On this page:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Mississippi man files trademark for slang version of N-word; Clarion-Ledger, July 27, 2017

Sarah Fowler, Clarion-Ledger; Mississippi man files trademark for slang version of N-word

"Curtis Bordenave, who is black, filed an application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for commercial use of n---a.

Bordenave's application comes on the heels of a June decision by the U.S. Supreme Court striking down a federal law that prohibited trademarks of disparaging words and symbols. 

"We plan on dictating the future of how we define this word," Bordenave said. "A young, black businessman from Mississippi has acquired the rights to the word. I think that’s a great ending to that story.""

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bondi Beach at centre of trademark tussle between Sydney cosmetics company and Abercrombie & Fitch By Jano Gibson; ABC, July 26, 2017

Jano Gibson, ABC; Bondi Beach at centre of trademark tussle between Sydney cosmetics company and Abercrombie & Fitch

"The United States retailer, which has no presence in Australia, is the registered owner of the 'Bondi Beach' trademark in the US for a range of products, including beauty lotions, body sprays and fragrances.

When Sydney company Bondi Wash applied to trademark its name in the US, it was prevented from doing so because of the similarity to Abercrombie & Fitch's existing rights.

The case has raised concerns about foreign companies gaining exclusive ownership of high-profile Australian place names in their branding."

Apple ordered to pay $506 million to university in patent dispute; Reuters, July 25, 2017

Jan Wolfe, Reuters; Apple ordered to pay $506 million to university in patent dispute

"A U.S. judge on Monday ordered Apple Inc to pay $506 million for infringing on a patent owned by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's patent licensing arm, more than doubling the damages initially imposed on Apple by a jury.

U.S. District Judge William Conley in Madison added $272 million to a $234 million jury verdict the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation won against Apple in October 2015. Conley said WARF is owed additional damages plus interest because Apple continued to infringe the patent, which relates to computer processor technology, until it expired in December 2016."

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The Case For Nations To Act On Medicines Access; Intellectual Property Watch, July 23, 2017

William New, Intellectual Property Watch; The Case For Nations To Act On Medicines Access

"A range of speakers, including top health officials from both a developed and developing country, last week laid out the case for why the world’s leaders must now launch a shift in the way medicines all populations need are developed and priced. The need for global collaboration is clear, speakers said, but who will lead?

The 17 July event was titled, “UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Access to Medicines: Advancing Health-Related SDGs through Policy Coherence.” The panel came in the context of the UN High Political Forum on Sustainable Development taking place during the week at the UN headquarters in New York...

Voice of Contention

Speakers ran over time so there was not time for questions. A US delegate in the audience told Intellectual Property Watch afterward that the critical statement by the US on the High-Level Panel from 16 September 2016 “still stands,” arguing that the panel report is “flawed” and is overly narrow."

Will East Texas be able to keep patent cases despite the Supreme Court?; Ars Technica, July 20, 2017

Joe Mullin, Ars Technica; Will East Texas be able to keep patent cases despite the Supreme Court?

"The following month, though, it looked like Cray had been thrown a lifeline by the US Supreme Court, which voted 8-0 to tighten up patent venue rules in a case called TC Heartland v. Kraft FoodsThe high court held that companies can only be sued for patent infringement in the state in which they are incorporated, or where the defendant company has a "regular and established place of business."
Yet under the new rules, Gilstrap still wouldn't let Cray out of the district. Cray's only tie to the district was a single salesperson, who worked out of his home in the Eastern District. In the judge's view, though, that was enough to find that Cray had "regular and established" business in the Eastern District and would have to face trial.
Gilstrap's controversial interpretation of the TC Heartland decision has been scorned by lawmakers who have supported patent reform efforts. In a hearing about the US patent system last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Gilstrap's move "rejects the Supreme Court's unanimous decision" and was "reprehensible.""

Amazon takes on small WA retailer Live Clothing in 'Glamazon' trademark stoush; ABC, July 24, 2017

Frances Bell, ABC; Amazon takes on small WA retailer Live Clothing in 'Glamazon' trademark stoush

"Live Clothing has been the registered owner of the Glamazon trademark for clothing, footwear and headgear since 1999, but has recently applied to extend the trademark to a wider range of retail and wholesale services.

But documents lodged with IP Australia show the application has been opposed by Amazon Technologies, which owns the trademark for the name "Glamazon fashionweek".

Glamazon is also the name of an internal Amazon social group for LGBTIQ employees, promoting diversity in the workplace."

Cady Noland Sues Three Galleries for Copyright Infringement Over Disavowed Log Cabin Sculpture; artnetnews, July 21, 2017

Julia Halperin & Eileen Kinsella, artnetnews; Cady Noland Sues Three Galleries for Copyright Infringement Over Disavowed Log Cabin Sculpture

"How much can you conserve an artwork before it becomes something entirely different?

This question is at the heart of a lawsuit filed in New York earlier this week by the artist Cady Noland. She claims that a collector and a group of dealers infringed her copyright by hiring a conservator to repair her sculpture Log Cabin (1990) without consulting her. The repair, Noland says, went way beyond the bounds of normal conservation."

Monday, July 24, 2017

Prevent employees from walking off with trade secrets; Virginia Lawyers Weekly, July 24, 2017

Clyde Findley and Ryen Rasmus, Virginia Lawyers Weekly; 

Prevent employees from walking off with trade secrets

"Intellectual property law is com­plicated. It protects legal rights associated with intangible and never-before-seen items. The IP field is full of jargon and contradic­tions, has few bright-line rules, and is studded with “I-know-it-when- I-see-it” tests and standards. It is little wonder, therefore, that many general practitioners throw up their hands when it comes to their clients’ IP issues, and either ig­nore these issues outright or refer the clients out to high-cost specialists. However, a generalist can take many precautions to nurture and protect her client’s IP hold­ings, particularly its trade secrets.

Although all forms of intellectual proper­ty can lose value when they are not properly looked after, no category of IP can lose its value as quickly as material that—with just a bit of attention from a business lawyer— can qualify for state and federal trade secret protection. Because careless and vindictive employees are often the guilty parties in trade secret misappropriation cases, atten­tion to the agreements and policies that gov­ern employees behavior is especially useful."

US Patent Office Issuing Cannabis Patents To A Growing Market; Forbes, July 24, 2017

Julie Weed, Forbes; US Patent Office Issuing Cannabis Patents To A Growing Market

"Can cannabis plants being [sic] patented?

Yes, this is presently a small area of activity, but may also represent opportunity. Plants can be patented in two ways, by way of “utility patents” (like 95% of all patents) or by way of a separate “plant patent” category. Utility patents are much stronger; plant patents are narrowly focused on a single “parent” plant and its direct descendants. By my count, there are currently only 5 US plant patent cases (4 pending applications, 1 issued patent), and 11 utility plant-directed patent cases (8 pending applications, 3 issued patents). Two companies are currently the main players in plants: the plant-focused Biotechnology Institute (Los Angeles CA) has 3 issued patents as well as 2 pending applications, and GW Pharmaceuticals (UK) has two plant-focused applications. GW is notable for having the largest cannabis-directed portfolio (80+ US cases) of all companies in the space, and is particularly focused on methods of treating diseases."

After Supreme Court Decision, People Race To Trademark Racially Offensive Words; NPR, July 21, 2017

Ailsa Chang, NPR; After Supreme Court Decision, People Race To Trademark Racially Offensive Words

"CHANG: I wondered about the intent, too, so I set off to find this other guy. And he turned out to be a patent lawyer in Alexandria, Va., Steve Maynard.

Why swastikas?

STEVE MAYNARD: Because the term has an incendiary meaning behind it.

CHANG: Yeah.

MAYNARD: And it's currently used as a symbol of hate. And if we can own the brand, we will be able to control the sale of the brand and the use of the brand as well.

CHANG: Oh, so you're trying to basically grab the swastika so real, actual racists and haters can't grab the swastika as a...

MAYNARD: Correct.

CHANG: ...Registered trademark.

MAYNARD: Correct.

CHANG: But there's a catch. Maynard can't just get the trademark, put it in a drawer and make sure nobody else uses it. To keep a trademark, he actually needs to sell a swastika product. So he will - blankets, shirts, flags. But he plans to make these products so expensive he's hoping no one will ever buy them."

Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Extend Copyright to Pre-1972 Recordings; Variety, July 20, 2017

Ted Johnson, Variety; Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Extend Copyright to Pre-1972 Recordings

"Legislation was introduced this week to close a long-standing quirk in copyright law: Sound-recordings made before 1972 do not get federal protection.

It’s long been a source of complaint among artists, musicians, and record labels, among others, particularly with the dramatic changes in revenue streams in the digital age. It has created confusion in the marketplace for oldies radio, as streaming services depend on the classic recordings popular with their subscribers.

The Compensating Legacy Artists for their Songs, Service and Important Contributions to Society Act (CLASSICS) was introduced by a group of House Republicans and Democrats, including Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.). Issa is the chairman of a key House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property, and Nadler is the ranking member."

Friday, July 21, 2017

Should Open Access And Open Data Come With Open Ethics?; Forbes, July 20, 2017

Kalev Leetaru, Forbes; Should Open Access And Open Data Come With Open Ethics?

"In the end, the academic community must decide if “openness” and “transparency” apply only to the final outputs of our scholarly institutions, with individual researchers, many from fields without histories of ethical prereview, are exclusively empowered to decide what constitutes ethical and moral conduct and just how much privacy should be permitted in our digital society, or if we should add “open ethics” to our focus on open access and open data and open universities up to public discourse on just what the future of “big data” research should look like."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The spread of 3D models creates intellectual-property problems; The Economist, July 20, 2017

The Economist; The spread of 3D models creates intellectual-property problems

"GROOT, a character from Disney’s film “Guardians of the Galaxy”, is usually mass-produced by the entertainment company as a small, collectable figurine and sold by retailers such as Toys “R” Us. But just before the release of the second film in the franchise earlier this year, Byambasuren Erdenejargal, a Mongolian enthusiast, noticed that people in a 3D-printing group on Facebook were searching for a computer model of Groot. So Mr Erdenejargal decided to create one. He spent four days perfecting the design and its printability before uploading his creation to Thingiverse, an online 3D-printing community based in New York. His digital model of the arboreal creature has since been downloaded (and probably printed in physical form) over 75,000 times."

RadioShack brand to survive under new owner: sources; Reuters, July 19, 2017

Jessica DiNapoli, Reuters; RadioShack brand to survive under new owner: sources

"The RadioShack brand will live on after a family office already owed $23 million by the bankrupt U.S. electronics chain agreed to assume ownership of it, as no other buyers submitted better bids this week, people familiar with the matter said.

An affiliate of Kensington Capital Holdings, a family office based in the suburbs of Boston, will acquire RadioShack's intellectual property after it submitted a $15 million bid, the people said on Wednesday."

Copyright Case Over Richard Prince Instagram Show to Go Forward; New York Times, July 20, 2017

Andrew R. Chow, New York Times; Copyright Case Over Richard Prince Instagram Show to Go Forward

"Richard Prince, who has pushed the legal limits of artistic appropriation for decades, will continue to fight for his art in court. This week, a federal judge in New York refused to throw out a photographer’s lawsuit against Mr. Prince over Mr. Prince’s use of an image in an exhibition. The case will continue, and could set a precedent for how the fair-use doctrine relates to Instagram, the photo-sharing app."

Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101; New York Times, July 18, 2017

Margalit Fox, New York Times; Frances Gabe, Creator of the Only Self-Cleaning Home, Dies at 101

"More than half a century ago, incensed by the housecleaning that was a woman’s chronic lot, Ms. Gabe began to dream of a house that would see to its own hygiene: tenderly washing, rinsing and drying itself at the touch of a button.

“Housework is a thankless, unending job,” she told The Ottawa Citizen in 1996. “It’s a nerve-twangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody!”

And so, with her own money and her own hands, she built just such a house, receiving United States patent 4,428,085 in 1984.

In a 1982 column about Ms. Gabe’s work, the humorist Erma Bombeck proposed her as “a new face for Mount Rushmore.”"

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Inventors Corner: How long does the patent process take?; Sioux Falls Business Journal via Argus Leader, July 18, 2017

Jeffrey Proehl, Sioux Falls Business Journal via Argus Leader; Inventors Corner: How long does the patent process take?

"Recent USPTO statistics suggest that this time period is becoming shorter, with the average length being about 16 months in 2016 as compared to about 28 months in 2011. Once the first communication is issued by the USPTO, things tend to move faster because of the deadlines imposed upon the applicant to respond to the communication and upon the patent examiner to act upon the applicant’s response.

The overall consideration time for a patent application also varies significantly, with the average being approximately 25 months unless the applicant needs to file a request for continued examination to obtain additional consideration by the examiner, in which case the time averages approximately 54 months."

How to make sure we all benefit when nonprofits patent technologies like CRISPR; The Conversation via The Associated Press via WTOP, July 19, 2017

The Conversation via The Associated Press via WTOP; How to make sure we all benefit when nonprofits patent technologies like CRISPR

"(The Conversation is an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.)
Shobita Parthasarathy, University of Michigan
(THE CONVERSATION) Universities and other nonprofit research institutions are under increasing fire about their commitments to the public interest. In return for tax-exempt status, their work is supposed to benefit society.
But are they really operating in the public interest when they wield their patent rights in ways that constrict research? Or when potentially lifesaving inventions are priced so high that access is limited? The public partially underwrites nonprofit discoveries via tax breaks and isn’t seeing a lot of benefit in return.
Questions like these arose recently in the case of CRISPR, the promising new gene-editing technology. After patenting it, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard sold the exclusive right to develop CRISPR-based therapies to its sister company Editas Medicine. Critics worry that this monopoly could limit important research and result in exorbitant prices on emerging treatments."

Apple has invented a way to secretly call 911 using your fingerprint; CNBC, July 18, 2017

, CNBC; Apple has invented a way to secretly call 911 using your fingerprint

"Apple  has invented a more discreet way to call emergency services with a touch, aimed at helping users evade potential attackers.

A patent granted on Tuesday depicted technology that would sense the "manner" in which a finger touched the iPhone screen to trigger a 911 call. For example, the phone might look for a particular sequence of fingers, the level of force, a gesture (pinching or swiping), or a certain cadence of taps to the screen, the filing says.

When the "panic command" is activated, the phone would provide the users' location to responders, and could also livestream audio or video from the iPhone. The system could also be used to activate other types of mobile command, according to the patent."

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Brendan (B.Rich) Richmond, YouTube; OUT FOR A SIP - FRIGGIN' BUDDY v COKE - OFFICIAL VIDEO 

[Kip Currier: A former student in my Copyright course at Pitt a few years ago alerted me to this Man versus Coke trademark dust-up, which BuzzFeedNews reports here.

Click here to see Friggin' Buddy's "Out For A Sip" rap "Cease-and-Desist-video-letter" to Coca-Cola Inc. FB's attorney Rob Kittredge gets in on the (civil) action too, busting out some best supporting barrister moves.]

Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts; The Scientist, July 17, 2017

Diana Kwon, The Scientist; Major German Universities Cancel Elsevier Contracts

"In Germany, the fight for open access and favorable pricing for journals is getting heated. At the end of last month (June 30), four major academic institutions in Berlin announced that they would not renew their subscriptions with the Dutch publishing giant Elsevier once they end this December. Then on July 7, nine universities in Baden-Württemberg, another large German state, also declared their intention to cancel their contracts with the publisher at the end of 2017.
These institutions join around 60 others across the country that allowed their contracts to expire last year.
The decision to cancel subscriptions was made in order to put pressure on Elsevier during ongoing negotiations. “Nobody wants Elsevier to starve—they should be paid fairly for their good service,” says Ursula Flitner, the head of the medical library at Charité–Berlin University of Medicine. “The problem is, we no longer see what their good service is.”
Charité–Berlin University of Medicine is joined by Humboldt University of Berlin, Free University of Berlin, and Technical University of Berlin in letting its Elsevier subscriptions lapse.
“The general issue is that large parts of the research done is publicly funded, the type setting and quality control [peer review] is done by people who are paid by the public, [and] the purchase of the journals is also paid by the public,” says Christian Thomsen, the president of the Technical University of Berlin. “So it’s a bit too much payment.”
Project DEAL, an alliance of German institutions led by the Hochschulrektorenkonferenz (German Rectors’ Conference), has been working to establish a new nationwide licensing agreement with three major scientific publishers, Elsevier, Springer Nature, and Wiley, since 2016."

Escaping Big Pharma’s Pricing With Patent-Free Drugs; New York Times, July 18, 2017

Fran Quigley, New York Times; Escaping Big Pharma’s Pricing With Patent-Free Drugs

"Although President Trump said before taking office that drug companies were “getting away with murder” and had campaigned on lowering drug prices, his administration is doing the opposite. A draft order on drug pricing that became public in June would grant pharmaceutical companies even more power to charge exorbitantly. For example, it could shrink a federal program that requires companies to sell at a discount to clinics and hospitals serving low-income patients.

Exorbitant prices are one thing that’s very wrong with the way we make medicines. The other is: medicines for what? If a malady has no market in wealthy countries, it gets no attention. Poor-country diseases, known as “neglected diseases,” have a ferocious impact: One of every six people in the world, including a half-billion children, suffers from neglected diseases. Yet of the 756 new drugs approved between 2001 and 2011, less than 4 percent targeted those diseases. The industry spends far more on lobbying government agencies to extend monopolies on high-cost drugs — or hand out deals like the Zika vaccine — than it does on research for a vaccine against dengue fever, which poses a risk for 40 percent of the world’s population.

But there’s one drug company that behaves differently."

Paralegal robot reviews patent documents; ABA Journal, July 17, 2017

Stephen Rinkiewicz, ABA Journal; Paralegal robot reviews patent documents

"New software helps patent lawyers draft applications that are more likely to pass muster with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, as well as respond to official letters from examiners.

TurboPatent Corp. on June 28 launched artificial-intelligence products that compare patent claims with past applications to make predictions about patent eligibility.

The patent drafting software, dubbed RoboReview, automates paralegal work, bringing more rigor to the task of researching prior art and potentially saving thousands of dollars on a filing. It’s sold as a subscription product on an unlimited or per-use basis.

“Typically this review is done by humans doing multiple searches,” says James Billmaier, TurboPatent’s chief executive officer. “Very seasoned attorneys are amazed at things the machine finds that they miss in these very technically written documents.”

Fair Use Vs Fair Dealing: How Australian Copyright Law Differs; Lifehacker, July 18, 2017

Nicolas Suzor, Lifehacker; Fair Use Vs Fair Dealing: How Australian Copyright Law Differs

"Copyright law sometimes allows you to use someone else’s work - as long as it’s fair. In Australia this is called “fair dealing”, and it’s different to the law in the US, which is called “fair use”. We explain the difference.

These exceptions are safety valves in copyright law – they allow lots of beneficial uses that society has agreed copyright owners should not be able to charge for, or worse, prevent.
There’s a serious ongoing debate about whether Australia should update its copyright laws and introduce fair use. The current law is not easy to understand – our research shows that Australian creators are often confused about their rights – and many think we already have fair use.

Fair dealing: What can you do in Australia?

The key difference between “fair use” and “fair dealing” is that Australia’s “fair dealing” laws set out defined categories of acceptable uses. As we will see, “fair use” in the US is much more flexible.
Australian copyright law sets out five situations where use of copyrighted material without permission may be allowed:
  • research or study
  • criticism or review
  • parody or satire
  • reporting the news
  • provision of legal advice.
We’ll explain the first four, as they’re most useful to the average Australian."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Free Data Sources: Municipal Open Data Portals For 85 US Cities; Forbes, June 30, 2017

Meta S. Brown, Forbes; Free Data Sources: Municipal Open Data Portals For 85 US Cities

"Seems like it was only a few years ago when my town of Chicago launched its first-of-a-kind municipal open data portal. Oh wait, it was only a few years ago. It was 2010.

What a difference seven short years can make. Dozens of US cities now offer fairly comprehensive open data portals, with information on varied types of government activity, in a choice of formats to suit the diverse needs of casual readers, journalists and data analysis junkies.

Others haven’t yet gone that far, but do offer some data, limited perhaps to single subjects such as police or property records. No fewer than 85 US cities now have some type of open data portal. Here’s where to find them..."

Amazon's meal-kit patent to blame for dip in Blue Apron share price; New York Business Journal, July 17, 2017

Anthony Noto, New York Business Journal; Amazon's meal-kit patent to blame for dip in Blue Apron share price

"The Seattle-based e-commerce giant filed a trademark for a meal-kit service just weeks after New York-based Blue Apron made its public debut. Now, multiple reports suggest that Blue Apron's stock — down 7.7 percent in Monday premarket trading — is feeling the effects...

...Austin, Texas-based Whole Foods was looking at meal kits as a way to boost sales before Amazon came knocking."

George A. Romero, Father of Zombie Movies, Dies at 77; Reuters via New York Times, July 16, 2017

Reuters via New York Times; George A. Romero, Father of Zombie Movies, Dies at 77

"Originally called "Night of the Flesh Eaters," the title was changed by the film's distributor, Walter Reade. Somehow, no copyright protection was filed after the name change, putting "Night of the Living Dead" into the public domain and allowing anyone to distribute it for free.

Romero told The New York Times in 2016 that many more people saw the movie as result, "keeping the film alive.""

Sunday, July 16, 2017

How can we stop algorithms telling lies?; Guardian, July 16, 2017

Cathy O'Neil, Guardian; 

How can we stop algorithms telling lies?

[Kip Currier: Cathy O'Neil is shining much-needed light on the little-known but influential power of algorithms on key aspects of our lives. I'm using her thought-provoking 2016 Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality And Threatens Democracy as one of several required reading texts in my Information Ethics graduate course at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Computing and Information.]

"A proliferation of silent and undetectable car crashes is harder to investigate than when it happens in plain sight.

I’d still maintain there’s hope. One of the miracles of being a data sceptic in a land of data evangelists is that people are so impressed with their technology, even when it is unintentionally creating harm, they openly describe how amazing it is. And the fact that we’ve already come across quite a few examples of algorithmic harm means that, as secret and opaque as these algorithms are, they’re eventually going to be discovered, albeit after they’ve caused a lot of trouble.

What does this mean for the future? First and foremost, we need to start keeping track. Each criminal algorithm we discover should be seen as a test case. Do the rule-breakers get into trouble? How much? Are the rules enforced, and what is the penalty? As we learned after the 2008 financial crisis, a rule is ignored if the penalty for breaking it is less than the profit pocketed. And that goes double for a broken rule that is only discovered half the time...

It’s time to gird ourselves for a fight. It will eventually be a technological arms race, but it starts, now, as a political fight. We need to demand evidence that algorithms with the potential to harm us be shown to be acting fairly, legally, and consistently. When we find problems, we need to enforce our laws with sufficiently hefty fines that companies don’t find it profitable to cheat in the first place. This is the time to start demanding that the machines work for us, and not the other way around."

Why was Mother Teresa's uniform trademarked?; BBC News, July 12, 2017

Why was Mother Teresa's uniform trademarked?

"It is also not clear how this trademark on the famous blue striped sari will be enforced. Many online shopping sites already sell variations of "unisex Mother Teresa dress" - blue bordered sari, and a long sleeved blouse.
Also, the move is bound to raise the hackles of the nun's critics - and she has her fair share of them - who have accused her of glorifying poverty, hobnobbing with dictators, running shambolic care facilities and proselytising. "How can anybody appropriate a sari, which has been a traditional Indian dress," one of them asked me, preferring to remain unnamed.
Designers like Anand Bhushan differ. "Some designs of the traditional Indian towel called gamcha, for example, have been trademarked. There's nothing wrong in trademarking a distinctive and iconic design or pattern like Mother Teresa's sari. It's not like anybody is beginning to own the sari.""

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why musicians are so angry at the world’s most popular music streaming service; Washington Post, July 14, 2017

Todd C. Frankel, Washington Post; Why musicians are so angry at the world’s most popular music streaming service

"With the money from CDs and digital downloads disappearing, the music industry has pinned its hope for the future on online song streaming, which now accounts for the majority of the $7.7 billion U.S. music market.

But the biggest player in this future isn’t one of the names most associated with streaming — Spotify, Amazon, Pandora or Apple. It’s YouTube, the site best known for viral videos, which accounts for 25 percent of all music streamed worldwide, far more than any other site.

Now, YouTube is locked in an increasingly bitter battle with music labels over how much it pays to stream their songs — and at stake is not just the finances of the music industry but also the way that millions of people around the world have grown accustomed to listening to music: free of cost."

Friday, July 14, 2017

Office Marks 5 Years in Detroit, 10,000 Patents Granted; Associated Press via U.S. News, July 14, 2017

Associated Press via U.S. News; Office Marks 5 Years in Detroit, 10,000 Patents Granted

"The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office says roughly 10,000 patents have been granted in Detroit, home to the first regional office in the system's 227-year history.

Officials say it's among the office's accomplishments as they mark the fifth anniversary of the Detroit-based Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional Office. A Friday event at Detroit's Stroh River Place, where the office is located, includes comments by USPTO officials, entrepreneurs, and a patent judge and attorney.

The office serves Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Patent officials say it was a template for offices in Denver, Dallas and San Jose, California.

In addition to examining patents, regional offices hold innovation challenges and have helped incorporate science, technology, engineering and math education and intellectual property concepts into schools."

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), July 14, 2017

Past, Present, and Future: Celebrating 5 Years of the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional USPTO

Five Years of Innovation

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Join in the celebration as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office marks the 5th anniversary of the Elijah J. McCoy Midwest Regional Office as we celebrate the success of the first regional office in the U.S. patent system's 227 year history. 

Event Summary

July 14, 2017
2:00 PM ET - 4:00 PM ET
The Stroh Atrium
300 River Place Drive
Detroit MI 48207