Friday, November 30, 2018

Why Are College Textbooks So Expensive?; Business Insider, November 27, 2018

Video, Business Insider; Why Are College Textbooks So Expensive?

"Almost 80% of the textbook industry is dominated by 5 publishing companies. They use restrictive codes and re-publish new versions of textbooks every 2 to 3 years. Due to these tactics, textbook costs overall have risen 67% from 2008 to 2018."

Copyright and the "male gaze": a feminist critique of copyright law; BoingBoing, November 20, 2018

Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing; Copyright and the "male gaze": a feminist critique of copyright law

"Film theorist Laura Mulvey coined the term "male gaze" to describe the "masculine, heterosexual perspective that presents and represents women as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer": in a paper for the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Southwestern Law School professor John Tehranian applies Mulvey's idea to the complex and often nonsensical way that copyright determines who is an "author" of a work and thus entitled to control it, and shows how the notion of authorship reflects and amplifies the power imbalances already present in the world...

Copyright's Male Gaze: Authorship and Inequality in a Panoptic World [John Tehranian/Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Vol. 41, 2018]"

Press Release: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office releases 2018-2022 Strategic Plan

Press Release

PRESS RELEASENovember 29, 2018
CONTACT: (Media Only)
Paul Fucito
(571) 272-5400 or

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office releases 2018-2022 Strategic Plan
Strategic Plan sets priorities to strengthen the USPTO, drive innovation, and support economic growth
WASHINGTON – The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) today published its 2018-2022 Strategic Plan. The strategic plan sets out the USPTO’s mission-focused strategic goals: to optimize patent quality and timeliness; to optimize trademark quality and timeliness; and, to provide domestic and global leadership to improve intellectual property policy, enforcement, and protection worldwide.
“We are confident in attaining the goals set out in this plan and look forward to the continued engagement and feedback from our stakeholders and employees,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office Andrei Iancu. “Together we celebrate innovation and entrepreneurship—we are very proud of the men and women who stand behind a well-balanced American intellectual property system.”
In conjunction with the development of the strategic plan, the USPTO is committed to making execution of the strategic plan an express responsibility of USPTO executives. This includes monitoring implementation of the plan, as well as keeping employees, stakeholders, and the public informed of progress. The USPTO website and the Data Visualization Center are key components of this communications commitment.
A draft USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan was posted on July 26, 2018, for employee review and feedback followed by a town hall meeting on July 24, 2018. The draft plan was then posted on the USPTO website on Aug. 22, 2018, and comments were solicited from stakeholders, customers, and the general public. Review and comments were also sought from the USPTO’s Patent and Trademark Public Advisory Committees, in addition to the three union bargaining unit presidents. Also, the proposed strategic plan was shared with the Department of Commerce, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress.
For more information on the USPTO 2018-2022 Strategic Plan, please visit

Why Trump tariffs on China not stopping theft of trade secrets; USA TODAY, November 28, 2018

, USA TODAY; Why Trump tariffs on China not stopping theft of trade secrets

[Kip Currier: Interesting to see a flurry of articles in wide-ranging media about IP--particularly IP theft--placed front and center by the U.S. at the G20 Summit in Argentina (see here and here).

Yesterday I listened to a free webinar, "Modernizing NAFTA into a 21st Century Trade Agreement: The New USMCA & IP", from the ABA IP Law Section on IP-related aspects of the U.S., Mexico, Canada Agreement (USCMA); what was previously informally referred to as NAFTA 2.0.

Ms. Kira Alvarez, Esq., provided an excellent overview of trade agreements like NAFTA and insightful comparative analysis of key IP-focused sections of the TRIPS agreement, Trans-Pacific Partnership (which Donald Trump, fulfilling his campaign promise, opted the U.S. out of as one of the first acts of his presidency in January 2017), and the USCMA. Time will tell if the beefed-up protections for Trade Secrets in the USMCA are successful in curbing IP theft.]

"The theft of U.S. intellectual property, mostly by the Chinese, costs the U.S. an estimated $225 billion to $600 billion a year and represents “an assault the likes of which the world has never seen,” analyst Richard Ellings said.

“You can’t find a company that hasn’t been assaulted, and half of them don’t even know it,” said Ellings, executive director of the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property.

President Donald Trump cited China’s theft of intellectual property as one of his reasons for slapping $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports earlier this year. Tariffs, intellectual property theft and the forced transfer of intellectual property will be among the topics of discussion when Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meet over dinner Saturday during the G-20 summit in Argentina, White House officials said. 

"The rest of the world knows full well about the issues of IP theft and forced transfers of technology," Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said. "This idea that other countries are not with us is just not true. It's time for a change in their behavior.""

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Intellectual Property to Take Center Stage as Trump and Xi Meet; The New York Times, November 28, 2018

Alan Rappeport, The New York Times;

"When President Trump and President Xi Jinping of China sit down to talk trade this week at the Group of 20 summit meeting, their negotiations are likely to be framed by a highly charged topic: the White House’s insistence that China routinely steals American technology and intellectual property."

Navy Official: Concerns About Intellectual Property Rights Becoming More 'Acute'; National Defense, NDIA's Business & Technology Magazine, November 29, 2018

Connie Lee, National Defense, NDIA's Business & Technology Magazine;

Navy Official: Concerns About Intellectual Property Rights Becoming More 'Acute'

"Capt. Samuel Pennington, major program manager for surface training systems, said the fear of losing data rights can sometimes make companies reluctant to work with the government.
“We get feedback sometimes where they’re not willing to bid on a contract where we have full data rights,” he said. “Industry [is] not going to do that because they have their secret sauce and they don’t want to release it.”

Pennington said having IP rights would allow the Defense Department to more easily modernize and sustain equipment.

“Our initiative is to get as much data rights, or buy a new product that has open architecture to the point where [the] data rights that we do have are sufficient, where we can recompete that down the road,” he said. This would prevent the Navy from relying on the original manufacturer for future work on the system, he noted.

The issue is also being discussed on Capitol Hill, Merritt added. The fiscal year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act requires the Pentagon to develop policy on the acquisition or licensing of intellectual property. Additionally, the NDAA requires the department to negotiate a price for technical data rights of major weapon systems."

IP is the G20 Issue; Forbes, November 29, 2018

Lorenzo Montanari, Forbes; IP is the G20 Issue

"The official priorities at the G20 Summit in Argentina include worrying about soil erosion, mainstreaming public-private partnerships, and voicing anxiety over whether government run schools can equip kids with employable skills.While those certainly are complex issues, they miss the urgency of a real global crises that President Trump has brought to the table.

The new agenda is intellectual property, intellectual property, and intellectual property.

President Trump has not shied away from the complex issue that Obama and other world leaders preferred to ignore. At the summit the United States, Mexico, and Canada are expected to sign the new USMCA trade agreement- an agreement that has the strongest IP protections than any other trade agreement in history."

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property?; The New Yorker, October 22, 2018 Issue

Charles Duhigg, The New Yorker; Did Uber Steal Google’s Intellectual Property?

"Levandowski, for his part, has been out of work since he was fired by Uber. It’s hard to feel much sympathy for him, though. He’s still extremely wealthy. He left Google with files that nearly everyone agrees he should not have walked off with, even if there is widespread disagreement about how much they’re worth. Levandowski seemed constantly ready to abandon his teammates and threaten defection, often while working on an angle to enrich himself. He is a brilliant mercenary, a visionary opportunist, a man seemingly without loyalty. He has helped build a technology that might transform how the world functions, and he seems inclined to personally profit from that transformation as much as possible. In other words, he is an exemplar of Silicon Valley ethics.

Levandowski is upset that some people have cast him as the bad guy. “I reject the notion that I did something unethical,” he said. “Was I trying to compete with them? Sure.” But, he added, “I’m not a thief, and I’m not dishonest.” Other parents sometimes shun him when he drops his kids off at school, and he has grown tired of people taking photographs of him when he walks through airports. But he is confident that his notoriety will subside. Although he no longer owns the technology that he brought to Google and Uber, plenty of valuable information remains inside his head, and he has a lot of new ideas."

Do You Have Concerns about Plan S? Then You Must be an Irresponsible, Privileged, Conspiratorial Hypocrite; The Scholarly Kitchen, November 26, 2018

Rick Anderson, The Scholarly Kitchen; Do You Have Concerns about Plan S? Then You Must be an Irresponsible, Privileged, Conspiratorial Hypocrite

"Ultimately, though, what is most concerning about Plan S is not the behavior of those hell-bent on defending it by any means necessary. That’s just par for the course. More important is the way in which researchers themselves — the people whose work and whose freedom to choose will be directly affected by its implementation — seem to have been excluded from the process of formulating it. This shouldn’t be surprising, I guess, given the disdain in which authors and researchers are apparently held by Plan S’s creators. After all, as Science Europe’s Robert-Jan Smits puts it: “Why do we need Plan S? Because researchers are irresponsible.”

There you have it. The freedom to choose how to publish isn’t for everyone; it’s only for those who are “responsible” — which is to say, those who agree with Plan S."

Monday, November 26, 2018

Counterfeits in the Digital Marketplace; Lexology, November 7, 2018

Lexology; Counterfeits in the Digital Marketplace

[Kip Currier: Timely article, on this Cyber Monday, and in light of my IP course's lecture last week on IP Piracy and the Dark Web. 

Anybody else noticing how so many goods fall apart or break really quickly these days?! Glazed gardening pots that crack and disintegrate in one season. Designer metal shower hooks that break off in one year. Ear and nose trimmers that conk out after one use. Clothes that fray--sometimes even after just one wash cycle in cold water. And on and on and on...

As this article makes clear, too, it's annoying when some goods aren't what they claim to be and have a built-in obsolescence of about zero. It's downright dangerous when they explode or catch fire, and when they contain arsenic, lead, and other harmful substances that kids and adults are breathing in and coming into contact with. And let's not forget impacts of counterfeit items on animals, whether farm ones or animal companions, in the form of contaminated feed.

The Trump administration and some federal agencies have made some good steps in the past couple of years in better enforcing IP rights and cracking down on counterfeit goods. The U.S. Congress also needs to take more aggressive action, with civil and criminal consequences, to rein in and hold bad actors and entities accountable and ensure public safety and health are paramount. "Caveat emptor" should not and must not exculpate disreputable sellers from facing the ramifications of their amoral actions.]

"Counterfeiting has moved beyond high-priced luxury goods to low-cost everyday items. Many of these fake products pose real dangers: face masks with arsenic; phone adapters that can electrocute you; computer chargers that fry your hardware; batteries that blow up. These counterfeits infiltrate online marketplaces, where they co-mingle with authentic products in warehouses and ship to unsuspecting consumers. With millions of goods leaving fulfillment centers every day, brand owners and consumers must wrestle with a billion dollar problem: how do you police the largest marketplace in the world?

In January of this year, the U.S. Government Accountability Office filed a report detailing the results of a federal investigation in which 47 products were purchased from five online retailers, including Amazon and All of the products were advertised as new, shipped from the United States, and sold by third-party sellers with customer ratings above 90%. Nearly half were counterfeit.

How does this happen? The five websites investigated have sizable “marketplaces,” virtual storefronts that let people other than the hosting company sell merchandise. For perspective, more than half of the goods sold on Amazon are from these third-party sellers. Anyone with an ID and a credit card can open a virtual storefront; few identifying details are required to set one up, and these details are regularly falsified. Since 2014, manufacturers from China (the world’s largest maker of counterfeit goods) have been able to sell directly to consumers in the Amazon Marketplace. In fulfillment centers, where products are picked up for packaging and shipment, goods from third-party sellers and goods direct from brand owners co-mingle. The resulting product pool is a mix of authentic and counterfeit goods, all sold as the same product and often for the same price."

Sunday, November 25, 2018

How to Crush an Outlaw Biker Club: Seize Its … Logo?; The New York Times, November 21, 2018

Serge F. Kovaleski, The New York Times; How to Crush an Outlaw Biker Club: Seize Its … Logo?

"The Mongols’ marks, like those of other biker groups, are registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Clubs have aggressively protected their patches from unauthorized use.

The Hells Angels have gone after large corporations including Toys “R” Us, the Alexander McQueen fashion line, Amazon, Saks, and Walt Disney, accusing them of infringement on its death’s head logo — a skull in a winged helmet — and other club symbols.

They have usually been successful, reaching settlements that require defendants to cease using the trademarks and to recall and destroy merchandise, among other concessions."

Friday, November 23, 2018

Addressing the Crisis in Academic Publishing; Inside Higher Ed, November 5, 2018

Hans De Wit and Phillip G. Altbach and Betty Leask, Inside Higher Ed; Addressing the Crisis in Academic Publishing

[Kip Currier: Important reading and a much-needed perspective to challenge the status quo!

I just recently was expressing aspects of this article to an academic colleague: For too long the dominant view of what constitutes "an academic" has been too parochial and prescriptive.

The academy should and must expand its notions of teaching, research, and service, in order to be more truly inclusive and acknowledge diverse kinds of knowledge and humans extant in our world.]

"We must find ways to ensure that equal respect, recognition and reward is given to excellence in teaching, research and service by institutional leaders, governments, publishers, university ranking and accreditation schemes."

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving dinner: How to find common ground on divisive issues; CNN, November 22, 2018

Harry Enten, CNN; Thanksgiving dinner: How to find common ground on divisive issues

[Kip Currier: Whenever I see articles like this, talking about how to traverse potentially uncomfortable holiday gatherings, I remember and want to rewatch this 2015 Saturday Night Live (SNL) video "A Thanksgiving Miracle"...three years old now, but still as timely and hilarious as ever. Enjoy and--in the final words of the little girl in the spoof--"Thanks, Adele!"

It's also a brilliant example of "remix", combining copyright content from one creator (check out the song the SNL spoof repurposes--Adele's "Hello" video here, with nearly 2.5 billion views) with new content from others, in transformative ways.

The CNN article linked to this post has some good advice for navigating "whitewater rapids" issues too...]

"Here are five thorny issues that could come up on Thanksgiving Day and how you and your family could find common ground:.."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

IBM Will Acquire Open-Source Software Company Red Hat In $34 Billion Deal; October 28, 2018

Laurel Wamsley, NPR; IBM Will Acquire Open-Source Software Company Red Hat In $34 Billion Deal

"In what may be the most significant tech acquisition of the year, IBM says it will acquire open-source software company Red Hat for approximately $34 billion...

"The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer. It changes everything about the cloud market," Ginni Rometty, IBM chairman, president and chief executive officer said in a statement. "This is the next chapter of the cloud."

Raleigh, N.C.–based Red Hat makes software for the open-source Linux operating system, an alternative to proprietary software made by Microsoft. It sells features and support on a subscription basis to its corporate customers...

Microsoft completed its $7.5 billion acquisition of open source software company GitHub just two days ago."

American Bar Association (ABA) Webinar: "Modernizing NAFTA into a 21st Century Trade Agreement: The New USMCA & IP; Thursday, November 29, 2018 12 Noon - 1 PM CT; 1 PM - 2 PM ET

[Kip Currier: In yesterday's lecture on International Intellectual Property, I was just talking a bit about the new IP developments contained within the U.S., Mexico and Canada Agreement (USMCA) that resulted from this year's Trump administration-led North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) changes. So it was very timely to get notice today of this upcoming (free to ABA members) American Bar Association (ABA) webinar on Thursday, November 29, 2018.

Note that the webinar's scheduled time provided is for Central Time, so make adjustments accordingly depending on which timezone you are in.]

"Modernizing NAFTA into a 21st Century Trade Agreement:
The New USMCA & IP

Thursday, November 29, 12:00 - 1:00 PM CT
1.0 Hours CLE Credit

On September 30, 2018, United States, Mexico, and Canada reached an agreement to modernize the 24-year-old NAFTA into a 21st century, high-standard trade agreement. The new USMCA supports mutually beneficial trade leading to freer markets, fairer trade, and robust economic growth in North America. The Intellectual Property (IP) chapter of the agreement provides strong and effective protection and enforcement of IP rights critical to driving innovation, creating economic growth, and supporting American jobs.

Kira Alvarez, Section Legistlative Consultant, American Bar Association, Washington, DC 

Ron Wheeler (Moderator), SVP, Content Protection and Technology Strategy, Twentieth Century Fox, Beverly Hills, CA"

New York Bar Sues Image Comics and Forbidden Planet For $2 Million Over Dead Rabbit Trademark; Bleeding Cool, November 20, 2018

Rich Johnston, Bleeding Cool; New York Bar Sues Image Comics and Forbidden Planet For $2 Million Over Dead Rabbit Trademark

"In May of this year, Bleeding Cool pointed out that there may be a possible problem regarding the trademark of a bar in New York, Dead Rabbit, which published its own comic books/menus, and the then-upcoming comic book Dead Rabbit, by Gerry Duggan and John McCrea, published by Image Comics, and both named after an infamous New York gang."

Friday, November 16, 2018

If Mozart and Beethoven Were Alive Today, Would they Be Guilty of Copyright Infringement?; Above The Law, November 15, 2018

Krista L. Cox, Above The Law; If Mozart and Beethoven Were Alive Today, Would they Be Guilty of Copyright Infringement?

"A rise in copyright infringement cases in music, particularly over short snippets of an overall song or the general “feel” of the piece, could restrict the creation of new music. It’s a shame given the long history of “borrowing” in the music industry. Indeed, classical composers frequently copied others, creating variations of older works and creating new interpretations. For example, Mozart borrowed from Haydn; Beethoven borrowed from Mozart; Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Brahms, in turn, all borrowed from Beethoven; Mahler borrowed from Brahms; and the list goes on and on. While some may argue that we don’t need six nearly identical country music songs (though I do personally love country!), imagine instead if the chilling effect applied to some of the greatest classical composers in history and the loss of their great music."

The darker side of Stan Lee’s legacy; Vox, November 14, 2018

Alex Abad-Santos, Vox; The darker side of Stan Lee’s legacy

"As fans, we should celebrate Lee’s work and the wondrous comic book worlds he helped create. At the same time, it doesn’t take away from Lee’s legacy to also acknowledge the comic book writers, artists, editors, colorists, and everyone who worked with him to produce those characters and universes — the people who don’t, and perhaps never will, enjoy the same level of recognition."

Stan Lee Is Dead at 95; Superhero of Marvel Comics; The New York Times, November 12, 2018

Jonathan Kandell and Andy Webster, The New York Times; Stan Lee Is Dead at 95; Superhero of Marvel Comics

"Mr. Lee was often faulted for not adequately acknowledging the contributions of his illustrators, especially Mr. Kirby. Spider-Man became Marvel’s best-known property, but Mr. Ditko, its co-creator, quit Marvel in bitterness in 1966. Mr. Kirby, who visually designed countless characters, left in 1969. Though he reunited with Mr. Lee for a Silver Surfer graphic novel in 1978, their heyday had ended.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Arguments over European open-access plan heat up; Nature, November 12, 2018

Richard Van Noorden, Nature; Arguments over European open-access plan heat up

"Debate is intensifying over Plan S, an initiative backed by 15 research funders to mandate that, by 2020, their research papers are open access as soon as they are published.

The Europe-led statement was launched in September, but details of its implementation haven’t yet been released. And while many open-access supporters have welcomed Plan S, others are now objecting to some of its specifics.

On 5 November, more than 600 researchers, including two Nobel laureates, published an open letter calling the plan “too risky for science”, “unfair”, and “a serious violation of academic freedom” for the scientists affected; more than 950 have now signed."

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Stan Lee’s Radical Fight Against Racists: ‘The Only Way to Destroy Them Is to Expose Them’; The Daily Beast, November 13, 2018

Stereo Williams, The Daily Beast; Stan Lee’s Radical Fight Against Racists: ‘The Only Way to Destroy Them Is to Expose Them’

[Kip Currier: Inspiring and powerful example of the ways every person can make a choice to stand against hatred of the "other" and bigotry, in all its forms.]

"Regardless of ongoing controversy surrounding the contributions of Kirby and others, Lee should be remembered for being an agent of change in his medium. A 1968 post from Lee’s mail column has been making the rounds in the wake of his death. In it, Lee makes plain his stance on racism.

“Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them—to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater—one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen—people he’s never known—with equal intensity—with equal venom.

“Now, we’re not trying to say it’s unreasonable for one human being to bug another. But, although anyone has the right to dislike another individual, it’s totally irrational, patently insane to condemn an entire race—to despise an entire nation—to vilify an entire religion. Sooner or later, we must learn to judge each other on our own merits. Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance. For then, and only then, will we be truly worthy of the concept that man was created in the image of God—a God who calls us ALL—His children.”

Stan Lee’s creative voice helped reshape the role of comics in American society and helped affect how American society saw comics. In doing so, Lee helped challenge his readers and his peers. His characters live now as part of the fabric of our culture—in blockbuster movies, acclaimed TV shows, video games and a host of other media. Generations of comic-book lovers saw themselves in those characters, and that was what he’d wanted all along. As some quarters of America tell themselves that politics have no place in pop art, the proof in Stan Lee’s history reminds us that the message has always been a part of the medium. Those who believe otherwise maybe have to consider that they aren’t the “good guy” in the story. After all—you can’t be a hero if you don’t stand for anything."

How Stan Lee Helped Bring Humanity to Superheroes; Comic Book Resources, November 13, 2018

Brian Cronin, Comic Book Resources; How Stan Lee Helped Bring Humanity to Superheroes

"Spider-Man's introduction in Amazing Fantasy #15 achieved two notable goals. One, it took the idea of Reed Richards' cosmic ray screw-up leading to the creation of the Fantastic Four to a whole other level, as now Peter Parker's selfishness almost directly led to the death of his beloved Uncle Ben, giving Spider-Man a painful reminder why he has to be a superhero and two, it took a teen hero and had him not as a sidekick or a younger version of an older hero, but as THE hero."

Marvel Icon Stan Lee Leaves a Legacy as Complex as His Superheroes; The Daily Beast, November 12, 2018

Spencer Ackerman, The Daily Beast; Marvel Icon Stan Lee Leaves a Legacy as Complex as His Superheroes

"Stan Lee supercharged Marvel Comics into one of the most important cultural forces on the planet. But how much credit does he really deserve?"

Monday, November 12, 2018

Marvel Comics' Stan Lee Passes Away at 95; November 12, 2018

Kip Currier; Marvel Comics' Stan Lee Dies at 95

Marvel Comics' legend Stan Lee passed away today at the age of 95 in Los Angeles. In the 1960's, Lee collaborated with the late iconic artist Jack Kirby (and later, others as well) in co-creating many of Marvel's most famous superhero characters--the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, the Black Panther, and many more. Lee and Kirby's creations now rank among the most lucrative Intellectual Property in the "616 universe".

It's interesting to note the headlines that have been appearing today--some citing Lee as "creator", while others use "co-creator":