Comic-Con: No Crazy Costumes Required (NPR)

NPR = Not Patent Related

My first exposure to Comic-Con was the year that KOTCS came out.  (For those of you who are not ultimate Indiana Jones fans, a) why not?, b) shame on you for not knowing, c) it stands for Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and d) it was 2008.)  That’s where they first announced that Karen Allen would be back to reprise her roll as the Indiana Whisperer, Marion Ravenwood.  *sigh*  She was the best of all the Jones girls, bar none.

Around these parts, however, Comic-Con stands not for that fan convention out on the left coast, but for the Comic Constitution.  The Comic Constitution was born out of a need for a certain group of then nine-year-old boys to prevent each other from stealing ideas for comic book characters.   As was the practice at that time, a group of boys would get together and draw comics during class when they should have been paying attention recess and it so happened that the creator of the Chicken Hawk and Rooster Hawk characters, a little boy we’ll call “Michael” because that’s his name, became disenfranchised with his buddies when one of them deigned to include his character in their comic.  Without asking first.  And they drew the characters ALL.WRONG because don’t you know that Chicken Hawk would never be seen holding a bow and arrow?  You don’t know that?  Oh, the humanity.

Not content to simply go ask the offender (or possibly offenders, I never quite got the whole story) to knock it off because isn’t that what nine year old boys do?  They just go up and punch each other’s lights out until the issue is resolved and then buy each other a beer, or possibly a shot of tequila?  No?  No.  That is not at all what happened here.

Evidently, Michael took it upon himself to write up a Comic Constitution.  Something akin to third grade Copyright Law, that outlines what you can and cannot do with regard to writing comics.  To wit:

The Comic Constitution

Here’s the text, verbatim:

There shall be no stealing Ideas/Characters from other peope’s comix.  The creator of the comic does not have to let it go, he/she can rip up the comic if they do not aprove.  And they have to write the owner of the comic name on the title, if they don’t they have to throw away/tear the title and writer has to write a knew one.

It’s so simple, it’s brilliant:  If you use my character without telling me, I don’t have to just ignore your gross malfeasance, I can rip your comic all to hell.  Or, you can use my character, but my name had better be on the title, bitchez.

Ask me how many times those kids got in another fight about comic strips?  It’s less than one, just to put a number on it.  And they did it all without lawyers!

So what’s the point of this little anecdote?  The point is that these people in Maryland are completely crazy when they say that the school gets to own the stuff the kids who attend there create.  Nine year olds in Texas figured out a year ago that that ain’t so.

What’s wrong with you, Maryland?

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Copywrong: Let’s Take Bets On How Long It Takes Someone To Sue These People

I’m not a copyright kinda gal, but this is interesting:

Studio Calico Instagrammed

Studio Calico is a Scrapbooking Manufacturing company.  They make papers and stamps and embellishments that women buy and use to record family memories.  Awesome hobby, to hear it told.  Instagram is H-U-G-E in this industry, because it’s so easy to take a picture of little Johnny and make it look spectacular with some of their filters.  So when this particular company released it’s “sneak peek” of items to be released this fall, this stamp was in there.

Can they do that?  I mean, did Instagram trademark the name and all derivatives?  Do they have to?

And I wonder if the issue is much larger now that Facebook has bought Instagram?  This post was originally drafted in July of 2012, which tells you that I don’t complete anything everything I start, so the proverbial “a lot” has happened since then.

Copyright infringement, at least as I understand it which is admittedly not very well, is actually pretty rampant in the Scrapbooking industry.  People copy each other’s ideas all the time.  Interestingly, there are precious few lawsuits over it.  Is it because the hobby was originated by Mormon women, and they as a whole seem non-litigious?  Is it because the industry doesn’t pay well enough to afford top-notch legal talent?

No, I think it’s because women have their own way of dealing with the issue:  shame.  Manufacturers of scrapbooking products, typically owned by women, call each other out on message boards, we publicly bad-mouth…hell, there’s a whole “scrap smack” blog where women can do nothing but bash the titans of industry.  That’s how we roll.

Facebook?  Maybe not so much.  Something tells me they’d be all over poor Studio Calico if they knew about it.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

Google + Motorola = iPad Killer

The world is still all a-flutter over the Google/Motorola deal.  Reuters wrote a piece the other day (yesterday, which was also the start of the new school year for my kids so time has been tight as I get them geared up), and I’d like to throw my hat into the discussion ring on it.  Let’s start with a quote:

Google’s move was widely seen as a response to its loss in the auction of 6,000 Nortel patents to a group led by Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Research in Motion, which fetched an unprecedented $4.5 billion in July.

At the risk of beating the poor horse completely into the ground, I still don’t think Google wanted those patents.  THEY WOULD HAVE THEM IF THEY DID.  Money was not an option.  No, I think that Google wanted to run up the price on the patents to jump-start the “Patent Arms Race”, and watch while everyone else bought into it but them.   I think they had plans to buy Motorola all along, and that they have plans to build an actual product.  Further, I think that product will be the tablet that beats the iPad.

I’ll pause while that sinks in.

Part of me thinks that because of another article I read about who can beat Apple at the tablet game.  They didn’t mention Google, so I’m doing it for them.  (I’m nice that way.) If anyone can beat Apple at anything, it’s Google. I said it and I’m glad.

Back to the original article, I don’t think the race is likely to be over so quickly, and certainly not because of Google’s purchase, be it for patents or product development.  (Yes, I do like commas, why do you ask?) I still think the Nortel Patent price was artificially inflated by Google, but I don’t think the prices will come back down automatically.  The war is not only not over, it’s just begun, IMHO*.

Because of the Patent Troll problem and because of the flaws in the patent system, you have to build your stable of patents and everyone who can, will.  Maybe things will go back to normal?  Time, and the InterDigital sale and Eastman Kodak auction.  But either way, I think Google snookered everyone.  They got a decent base of patents, that they can call upon for defensive purposes if needed, for a fraction of the Nortel prices.  And, they have hardware capability now too.  Giddyup.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

*In My Humble Opinion

Nortel buyers, are you angry yet?

So today should be fun!   The whole world (ok, the small slice of it that follows patents) will be weighing in on Google’s recently announced purchase.  Not liking to be left out even though I have a lot of work to do, I feel compelled to add in my 50 cents.  In no particular order, save that the list is actually ordered because I like numbers rather than bullets, are my comments:

1.  What did I tell you?  If Google had wanted the Nortel patents they’d have won the auction.  They had the money, and they had this up their sleeve the whole time.

2.  Then, Google puts out the whiney-baby, “feel sorry for us” article wherein I likened them to a dude that tried to play my friend (note to playah: knock it off, or she’ll knock it off for you).  Well played, Big G.  Throw everyone off the “we’re about to buy Motorola” scent.

3.  How mad is the consortium that bought Nortel’s patents right about now?  Big G ran up the bidding and forced you all to (over)pay a ton of money.  That sent reverberations throughout the industry and forever changed the valuation of every company on the planet with a portfolio.  InterDigital, anyone?  Man, those guys had to be ecstatic!  Here’s a hint, Southern style:  when they bid pi?  You done been had.

4.  Quote from the Wired.com article:

“Our acquisition of Motorola will increase competition by strengthening Google’s patent portfolio, which will enable us to better protect Android from anti-competitive threats from Microsoft, Apple and other companies,” Page wrote.

Again, nicely played.  So, instead of spending $4.5B on a patent portfolio alone, they are now a hardware manufacturer as well.  See how that works?  INTELLECTUAL VENTURES, I’m looking at you.

I like consistency and this purchase meets that criteria.  While recognizing that patents are required to operate in the smartphone space, broken system or not, Google chose to buy a hardware company.  Any patents Motorola has now transfer to Google so they have gotten into the manufacturing business and now hold patents that they can use to defend themselves, all in one foul swoop.  They are behaving in a way that is consistent with the message they have been putting out.  I like that.

Larry Page, for the win.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

MSFT as Troll

I know, I know, not exactly news.  There are plenty of people out there who think they are already are a troll.  Me?  I don’t think they’re a troll so much as they are a bully, but one little sentence in this article gives me pause:

Apart from the novelty, it’s not clear why anyone would use such a service. There’s no indication that the company plans to bring anything like it to market. But Microsoft found it significant enough to apply for a patent on the technology in September 2008, and this week the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office deemed it worthy of one.

Let us ask IV, Acacia Media, Spangenberg, et al why someone would patents something with no intention of bringing anything to market.  Oh, wait

The best part is the part about the picture they used in the application.  The article does say that the image is “unattributed”, meaning it’s not something they stole from someone outright or pilfered from some poor soul’s Flickr or Pbase site (not that that’s happened to yours truly before) without giving credit.  And lo, they have apologized:

The use of the skywriting image in the patent was an error and Microsoft will immediately submit the patent for re-issue proceedings to correct the drawings. Microsoft regrets any confusion caused by getting busted for this error.

I suppose at the end of this day this quote makes the most sense:

Not that it’s the most consequential technology in the world, but accuracy in patent filings is an important principle at a time when Microsoft and others are pushing to reform the system.

True that.

Just sayin’,

IPTT

 

 

Trolling: Not Just for Patents Anymore

This has been brewing for a while, and I think we all knew it would happen and honestly I’m surprised it took this long.  I’m far less well-versed on the copyright side of intellectual property than I am the patent side, but it stands to reason that if one could monetize patents they can do the same with copyrights.  Behold:

Righthaven likens itself to patent enforcers

And so it began just a few short months ago: Righthaven is the first Copyright Troll.  I think this calls for a mascot.  We all know the quintessential patent troll guy, which looks strikingly similar to the Tasmanian Devil, so I suppose if someone at Looney Tunes were on the ball things could get interesting.  Anyway, we need a mascot for the copyright side.  Any takers?

What will be different this time is that people are coming out swinging against this stuff right off the…bat.  <–See what I did there?  Ah, baseball.  America’s past time, along with filing lawsuits.  Here’s a quote from the linked article:

The new 119-page federal answer and counterclaim levels 56 charges at Righthaven covering allegations ranging from racketeering to violations of the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act.

The claim charges Righthaven lacked standing to sue over Review-Journal and Denver Post material, that it filed “extortionate lawsuits” to extract settlements from defendants and that these suits had a “dramatic chilling effect on expression on the Internet.”

I’m not so sure that last comment is true, not much has a “dramatic chilling effect on expression on the Internet”.  Besides which, I question the omission of a comma between “dramatic” and “chilling”.  Nevertheless, the key word in the quote is clearly “counterclaim”.  Fighting this sort of thing in court from the get go is going to be key in preventing a whole new  class of company from emerging and making a mess of the copyright side of things.

Just sayin’,

IPTT