Startup Advice from Dick Costolo, Co-Founder of FeedBurner : Problems with FeedBurner at Google in Migrating and Merging the Technology

Dick Costolo, co-founder and then CEO of FeedBruner, which was acquired by Google for an estimated $100 million in 2007, closed his Burning Door blog in 2008 with some interesting advice for startups in his posting Ask the Wizard.

We had cause to look at his posting again since Google in 2009 is now in the process of migrating and merging FeedBurner feeds into the general Google technology. This affects a great percentage of the blog industry and is having unexpected and in part disastrous effects on the FeedBurner “Reader” stat calculations. Apparently, Google is having trouble keeping FeedBurner running the way it is supposed to run. We see that in our own LawPundit reader stats, which have also been affected. See TechCrunch for the details.

This development is typical for Google by the way. Blogger has never really recovered fully from the day that Google acquired it from PyraLabs, founded by Evan Williams, originally a farm kid from Nebraska, who then went on to co-found Twitter.

I think the problem is that companies like PyraLabs and Twitter are founded by peope who are true visionairies. When their companies are taken over by big operations like Google, the job of merging Google technologies with the new company falls into the responsibility of normal nerds, and that means considerable problems until all the bugs are ironed out.

LinkedIn Online Networking Platform for Professionals Growing Fast and Becoming a Business Relationship Powerhouse

We first posted at LawPundit about the advantages of LinkedIn two years ago.

is a serious networking platform (serving also as a kind of high level visiting card) for professionals.

LinkedIn growth in 2008 outpaced Facebook and MySpace and their membership is definitely leaping forward in the current economic climate as people become even more aware than previously of how important personal viz. professional connections are in the economic world.

QuantCast currently ranks LinkedIn 80th in the top 100 websites in terms of monthly hits at 10 million. That number can only go up.

As written by Matthew Humphries at Geek com:

New investment in LinkedIn has valued the company at US$1 billion….

LinkedIn currently has over 23 million members in 150 countries and a further 1.2 million are signing up each month.

Read The Definite LinkedIn Guide by Mark Davis.

See my LinkedIn profile.

The Apple iPhone Patent and the Voice of the People at Slashdot : The Patenting of Human Gestures is a Colossal USPTO Error

So the clueless USPTO has now approved Apple’s 358-page iPhone patent application.

Methods for entering data with your fingers (at the snap of a finger?) have been patented as “touch gestures”, and similar nonsense.

Did someone say something about human Language and Gesture?
How about the Apple Multi-Touch Gesture Language?
The patenting of a language? Surely you jest.

Read the comments to the granting of the Apple iPhone patent at Slashdot. It is the voice of the people on patents. We have little to add.

Apple has every right to patent its iPhone as produced.
It has no right to patent human gestures. NONE.

Most tools of mankind are operated one way or the other by human hand (and fingers, and touch). No one has any right to lay a patent claim to any of those gestures or human movement, for any purpose, and not in combination with any product.

That is not a law of the USA.
That is a law of mankind.

When will the USPTO ever learn?

The First U.S. Patent of Samuel Hopkins and the Legal Standard in In re Bilski : A Return to the Roots?

In the previous post we noted that In re Bilski, 545 F. 3d 843 (Fed. Cir. 2008)(en banc) held that patent protection does not extend to business methods which are not tied to a machine process or a physical transformation, thus supporting our longstanding criticism of business method patents.

In some ways this standard in Bilski goes back to the roots of American patent practice and the first U.S. patent, which was issued to Samuel Hopkins for an “Apparatus and a Process”. As written at

“Samuel Hopkins, of Pittsford, Vermont, [LawPundit: but see our discussion further below] received Patent No. 1 on July 31, 1790, for an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” The patent was signed by President George Washington, Attorney General Edmund Randolph, and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson.” [emphasis added]

In fact, Hopkins traveled far and wide to help build his special furnace for potash production. As written at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

“It was … clear to the first patentee that his success would ultimately depend on field demonstrations of the utility of his process.  Thus in the half dozen years that followed the granting of his patent, he can be found traipsing through the wilderness of northeastern Pennsylvania and building at remote locations his specially designed furnace.”

The invention by Hopkins thus would have withstood the standard in Bilski of tieing a method to a machine process and a physical transformation.

Note here, in events rather typical for the patent scene, as written at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, that a bit of history has been invented about Samuel Hopkins and his true identity:

In “Samuel Hopkins, Holder of the First U.S. Patent,” Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography 122 (1998), 3-27, the author develops in detail Hopkins’s personal history, while putting his entrepreneurial venture in the context of his social position, his religious convictions, and the nascent state of American patent law. In “Inventing History: The Holder of the First U.S. Patent,” Journal of the Patent and Trademark Office Society 80 (1998), 155-70, the focus shifts to the comedy of errors that permitted the Pittsford Samuel Hopkins to supplant the Philadelphia Quaker of the same name, who, once the record is consulted, emerges as the indisputable holder of the first patent.

In re Kubin : Hitting the NAIL on the Head : Sequencing Poor Federal Circuit Court Decisions out of the Biotechnology Patent Genome via KSR and/or Bilski Reasoning

The Human Genome is OURS not theirs:
Gene Patents Should be Void on their Face

Let us say, prior to our comments about In re Kubin, that we think that gene patents should be void and voided by legislation as a matter of public policy, including all gene patents thus far granted.

The very idea that any component of the human body can be patented is absurd and shows how far away from its legitimate foundations the patent law has come in the modern era.

The Constitution of the United States never intended that human genes – or any genetic sequence of them – be patentable – for any reason. No stretch of the language or the intentions of the American Founders can possibly make a gene sequence a human invention worthy of patent protection – a monopoly provided at taxpayer cost for the benefit of the greedy few.

Pharmaceutical viz. biotech companies get richer and richer, and there is good reason for this. Patents – justifiably or unjustifiably granted – provide the pharmaceutical industry with a host of government-sponsored monopolies that lead to spectacular profits and raise the cost of health care to astronomical levels for all citizens. In a world where the average age of the population in the countries of Western Civilization has reached unprecedented levels, controversial patent policies which grant patents where they need not be granted and which lead to expensive and unnecessary burdens on the health care system should be cast aside as inimical to the common weal (see also).

Patents in the area of biotechnology have scarcely anything to do with “invention”. For example, gene sequences ALREADY exist in nature and NATURE itself is the prior art. No researcher invents a “code” when he or she “decodes” a gene sequence and once a protein is known, that decoding is for the most part simple technical routine that any versed lab assistant can carry out in a trial and error process. Nothing is actually being invented.

On the other hand, what genetic and biotech patents DO have a great deal to do with, is less science and more MONEY. There is a constant battle between researchers, pharmaceutical and biotech companies and those affiliated with them for the gigantic windfall profits which stem from monopolies granted to them via patent protection from patent offices.

In re Kubin is a great example of the gold rush mentality prevalent in this field.

In re Kubin : Enough is Enough : Establishing Sensible Limits to Biotech Patents

The Federal Circuit will soon decide the appeal in the gene sequence patent case In re Kubin (oral arguments were held on January 8, 2009).

As Kevin E. Noonan observes at Patent Docs regarding the oral arguments in In re Kubin:

Judge Friedman … set forth some background information, asking for a brief synopsis of what the patent applicants were trying to do. [Ms. Rudolph] responded by explaining the underlying immunology of natural killer (NK) cells. In response to renewed questioning from Judge Rader, that the prior art Valiante reference “taught p38 which is NAIL” (the subject matter of the Kubin application was a cDNA encoding human NAIL), she reminded the Court that what Valiante disclosed was “a band on a gel,” i.e., that the Valiante patent disclosed an antibody immunologically reactive to p38, and therefore, that Valiante did not disclose purified p38, but merely its detection on a Western blot (where it would be expected to be in the presence of a multiplicity of other proteins).

The essential facts and issues of In re Kubin are found online best explained at Coping with Kubin by Kristina Caggiano at, where she even includes adaptation strategies for lawyers and law firms for the new legal circumstances. Holman’s Biotech IP Blog has a good technical overview, which in our opinion, however, is too biased on the side of patent protection.

In the case itself, the existence of a protein (P38) on the surface of NK cells and the method of recognition of that protein had already been previously discovered by others. That is the prior art. What the patent claimant had done was to decode this protein, a standard procedure in this field, if also sometimes requiring a time-consuming trial-and-error process, and a task often assigned to lab assistants in the laboratory. The task can be tedious, but it is not what anyone would call “inventive”.

Is that decoding a patentable invention? In fact, the patent claimant did not restrict itself to the decoded nucleotide (of which there can be hundreds of millions in a single DNA strand of the human organism) but sought a patent for the entire genus of similar polynucleotides, a gigantic biotech “land grab” which is common in the patenting of so-called biotechnology “discoveries”.

A legal problem exists here therefore as regards patent enablement and description, to which also see Holman. Essentially, that legal doctrine means that you can patent YOUR mousetrap but not all other conceivable mousetraps, even those that are similar to yours. Courts still do not understand that you can patent YOUR physical invention, but not the idea incorporated in the invention. In fact, it is to the advantage of society that inventions breed imitation and improvement, which are at the root of all progress. Patent claims for entire genuses of things should thus be rejected as a matter of course by courts as spurious. Deterring high fines for such claims should be assessed against claimants. Patents should protect what has been invented (and produced as an invention), not what could be invented (or produced as an invention).

Kubin is a case which provides the Federal Circuit with a golden opportunity to put an end to the mass of biotech patent applications which have flooded the USPTO ever since their disastrous decision in In re Deuel, 51 F.3d 1552 (Fed. Cir. 1995), which the Harvard Law Review describes (in a note to In re Fisher, 421 F.3d 1365 (Fed. Cir. 2005) as:

 “the Federal Circuit’s heavily criticized decision in In re Deuel.”

In re Deuel : Armageddon for the USPTO

The majority opinion in Deuel is marked by Judge Alan David Lourie’s statement that: ““Obvious to try” has long been held not to constitute obviousness” in a decision holding that:

(1) combination of prior art reference teaching method of gene cloning, together with reference disclosing partial amino acid sequence for a protein that stimulated cell division, did not render claims prima facie obvious; (2) conceived method of preparing some unidentified DNA does not define it with precision necessary to render it obvious over protein it encodes; and (3) patent claims generically encompassing all DNA sequences encoding human and bovine proteins to stimulate cell division were not invalid as obvious.

In our view of how the law should be, the Federal Circuit was wrong on all counts, as the Deuel decision led to an avalanche of patent applications that is still being felt today by a USPTO that has a backlog of over 1 million patent applications pending, and no end in sight.

As written at the Harvard Law Review case note cited above:

Deuel held that, despite the existence of a known method for isolating a DNA sequence, obviousness is no bar to the patenting of a sequence as long as the precise nucleotides are not previously known. The ensuing “avalanche of patent applications on ESTs” led to the reinstatement of the requirement of substantial utility in the Utility Guidelines in 1999, but an overwhelming number of costly and complex applications continued to be filed. In addition, in 1997 the Federal Circuit appeared to be attempting to slow the flood of patents by distinguishing biotechnology from other chemical industries and holding, in Regents of the University of California v. Eli Lilly, that an adequate written description of a patent for a DNA sequence required the disclosure of the precise sequence of nucleotides. Although this requirement was seen as a means of delaying patent filing in some instances until the tedious task of sequencing was completed, it also meant that the patent would only cover the exact sequence disclosed. Together, these decisions created a field in which a large number of patents of very narrow scope would be available, inviting concerns that such a regime would produce “too many concurrent fragments of intellectual property rights in potential future products,” and thereby impede innovation in biotechnological research….

[we go to the paragraph at the beginning of that same Harvard Law Review case discussion]

The question of patenting expressed sequence tags (ESTs) was first raised in 1991 when Dr. J. Craig Venter of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) filed several applications for EST patents. Although the ensuing controversy ultimately prompted the NIH to withdraw its applications, private companies have since stepped in to lay claim to hundreds of thousands of ESTs. Recently, in In re Fisher, the Federal Circuit denied claims to ESTs by finding that, without knowledge of the function of the genes to which they correspond, their value as research tools did not rise to the level of patentable utility. When combined with policy considerations for furthering agricultural biotechnology, Fisher suggests that the identification of underlying gene function should be regarded as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition of utility.

What is patentable subject matter and what is non-patentable due to obviousness?
Do recent court decisions deny the patent claims in In re Kubin?

The winds of change are blowing strongly in the direction of a substantial limitation of patents, especially in light of the sensible standards recently issued by the United States Supreme Court in KSR v. Teleflex, 550 U.S. 398 (2007) and by the Federal Circuit in In re Bilski, 545 F. 3d 843 (Fed. Cir. 2008)(en banc).

In KSR, the U.S. Supreme Court, in an opinion by Justice Kennedy for a unanimous court, held that “common sense” was the prevailing standard for obviousness and not some artificial formula, and that something which was “obvious to try” for “a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art” was “obvious” and thus non-patentable. In Bilski, the Federal Circuit, sitting en banc, in a 9-3 decision and via a majority opinion written by Chief Judge Michel, held that a business method which did not involve a machine process or a physical transformation was not patent-eligible subject matter.

KSR International v. Teleflex

In KSR International v. Teleflex, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Federal Circuit Court TSM tripartite test of “teaching-suggestion-motivation” to determine the obviousness of a patent. During oral arguments the TSM test was called “three imponderable nouns,” by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who categorized the TSM test as “gobbledygook” and “irrational”, whereas Chief Justice John Roberts called it “Federal Circuit jargon” which was “worse than meaningless because it complicates the inquiry rather than focusing on the statute.”

As Tony Mauro of the Legal Times wrote at in Justices Slam Nation’s Patent System….:

In surprisingly blunt terms, Supreme Court justices Tuesday made it crystal clear that they are upset with the nation’s patent system, the lawyers who litigate under it and the appeals court that referees it.

During a lively — bordering on raucous — hour of arguments on what makes an invention so obvious that it does not deserve a patent, justice after justice piled on criticism of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s three-part “teaching-suggestion-motivation” test for determining obviousness, an issue that arises in virtually every patent application and appeal. The test has been criticized as too patent-friendly, resulting in a proliferation of junk patents that stifle competition.
“Three imponderable nouns,” is how Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed the test, also calling it “gobbledygook” for good measure.
Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. called it “Federal Circuit jargon” that is inflexible and “worse than meaningless.”
And when Justice Stephen Breyer said he had read the briefs in the case “15 times” and still could not understand the “motivation” prong of the test, Scalia chimed in, “Like Justice Breyer, I don’t understand.”
The implied message to the Federal Circuit seemed to be: If two of the brainier justices on the Supreme Court don’t have a clue what you are talking about, a new test might be in order.”

In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out the TSM Test altogether.

KSR was applied soon thereafter by the Federal Circuit in Leapfrog Enterprises, Inc. v. Fisher-Price, Inc., 485 F.3d 1157 (Fed. Cir. 2007).

As noted by Mark Nowotarski at, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences is citing KSR in over 60% of its decisions relating to obviousness.

In re Bilski

The holding in Bilski is that patent protection does not extend to business methods which are not tied to a machine process or a physical transformation. This standard has since been applied in the life sciences in Classen Immunotherapies, Inc. v. Biogen IDEC et al. (Fed. Cir. Dec. 19, 2008), which is labeled as a “nonprecedential” disposition, a rather misleading label which attempts to make a nothing out of a something. The notice “This disposition is nonprecedential” should be dropped as contrary to reality. Every disposition has precedential effect on the world and on the subject parties, like it or not. Law does not exist in a vacuum nor can the doctrine of stare decisis be negated by labels. What is done, is done, and it lives on as done.

Bilski casts a possible shadow over In re Kubin since the decoding of a gene is not tied per se to a machine process nor is it a physical “transformation” of the gene. It is a mere method of revealing what is present anyway. Genetic decoding means only that the researcher knows in greater detail “what it is” and “where it is”, but the nucleotides remain unchanged. There is no machine process in the technical sense since the genes are not “processed” and nothing is transformed. All that has happened is that one has gained more knowledge – and the gaining of more knowledge is viz. should not be patentable.

We could understand the patenting of a specific drug that incorporates a proprietary type of method for producing its ingredients, but if these ingredients are genetic materials, then those materials themselves, including their genetic sequences, should be unpatentable per se.

What will the Federal Circuit decide in In re Kubin?

In our opinion, the Federal Circuit has no choice but to affirm the denial of the patent claimed.

The German-American Connection as an Important Factor to the Solution of Key Problems in Modern World Affairs : Europe, Economy, Iran, Afghanistan

Roger Cohen has a perspicacious January 25, 2009 article at the New York Times on Remembering Germany, in which he first emphasizes the miracle of German reconstruction after World War II:

That miracle, of course, was in large measure a German-American achievement, from Marshall Plan reconstruction, through West Germany’s insertion into NATO, culminating with the astute U.S. diplomacy that allowed the country’s unification within the Western alliance.

Cohen then goes on to point that Germany’s relations to the USA “soured” during the past Presidential administration and that an improvement of relations is advisable, especially in view of modern Germany’s importance to four top world issues: Europe, the US and world economy, Iran and Afghanistan.

As Cohen writes, inter alia:

Only in Germany is a powerful commitment to the strength and effectiveness of the European Union matched by an equally powerful conviction that the trans-Atlantic relationship remains critical….

[Germany] is an essential American ally in turning the global economy around….“

Read the full article
. Hat tip to CaryGEE.

Barack Obama & Hadrian, A New Emperor, presented by 2008 Briton of the Year Neil MacGregor, British Museum Director : Hadrian, Obama and Iraq

Does history repeat itself? You decide.

The parallels between the ancient Roman Emperor Hadrian (famed for Hadrian’s Wall) and the new US President Barack Obama are remarkable. Watch the video below about Hadrian from the British Museum, narrated by Neil MacGregor, voted Briton of the Year 2008 by the Times in his capacity as Director of the British Museum (and someone Obama might want to consult in resurrecting the American cultural landscape):

As you can hear in the video, both Obama and Hadrian inherit(ed) an empire in trouble and began (begin) their reigns by facing troublesome internal and external foes.

Hadrian’s first major move in office was to withdraw his troops from Mesopotamia (including present-day Iraq) and to solidify his own security against more pressing foes.

Hadrian went on to become one of the greatest – and predominantly peaceful – Roman Emperors of all time, extending the boundaries of the Roman Empire to their greatest expanse ever. As Guy Raz, Nieman fellow at Harvard University, writes:

“[Hadrian] shift[ed] money from the war in the east to deal with the public debts. He even found some extra cash to boost the economy with a massive public infrastructure project — things like repairing aqueducts, roads and bridges.

Finally, Hadrian did what few of his predecessors would even consider: He went on a road trip and visited nearly every corner of the empire. He knew that for Rome to bolster its influence, it had to show at least some respect for the nations so affected by its power. Hadrian also increased foreign aid and started a program of nation-building throughout the empire.

By and large, it worked.

Obama started his first term as President of the United States by asking the US military commanders for a “a responsible military drawdown from Iraq.”

A few days later, he announced his American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, stating:

[I]f we do not act boldly and swiftly, a bad situation could become dramatically worse. That is why I have proposed an American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan to immediately jumpstart job creation as well as long-term economic growth….

Below is Obama’s first weekly broadcast as President:

Beyond the inevitable partisan babble on the Beltway and elsewhere, is there any serious doubt out there among those with strong intellectual depth in their political and economic analysis that Obama will be successful?

Not in these quarters.

Cosmopolitan Citizenship & World Legal Order : Germ. Law J. (1, 2009) on Kant, Habermas, Divided West & International Law Constitutionalization

IN a special edition, 10 German Law Journal No. 1 (1 January 2009) presents The Kantian Project of International Law: Engagements with J. Habermas’ The Divided West (in English).

Achilles Skordas & Peer Zumbansen write in the introductory article:

After HabermasDer gespaltene Westen was published in Germany [by Suhrkamp] in 2004 to wide acclaim, Polity Press published an English language edition of the book in 2006. The Divided West contains Habermas’ recent writings on international law and, particularly, his landmark essay on “The Kantian Project and the Divided West – Does the Constitutionalization of International Law Still Have a Chance?” The essay constitutes the most elaborate contribution by Habermas on the challenges facing the international legal order today. While carefully unfolding his inquiry into the dynamics of international law within the current state of transatlantic relations and the role played by the United States in this and the global context, his essay has an objective beyond this. Habermas revisits Kant’s concept of cosmopolitan citizenship and a world legal order, as elaborated in the essays “To Eternal Peace” and “Idea for a Universal History with Cosmopolitan Intent.” Habermas explores the chances of a revival Kant’s thesis in a (post)-Kosovo and (post)-Iraq Era of International Relations. Habermas’ essay makes a number of poignant and provocative observations that have already been taken up in an increasingly global discussion.

This Special Issue of the German Law Journal celebrates the publication of The Divided West with a series of essays of highest timeliness. [Links in the cited material to a biography of Habermas at the Goethe-Institut USA and to the English and German versions and the publisher of his book have been added by LawPundit.]

Read more at the German Law Journal (in English).

The Americans photographed by Robert Frank and introduced by Jack Kerouac has been published in a new version in English, German and Chinese editions

The Americans
in German, “Die Amerikaner
and in Chinese美国人“.
I got this book for my birthday this past December.

If you are down about the American economy and the prospects for 2009 and beyond, don’t be. Take a look at this book – and at this first link about that book – to see how greatly much of America has changed in the 50+ years since the mid-1950’s. Obama’s America in 2009 is a vastly different place than shown in the photographs in “The Americans”.

As written by Philip Gefter at the New York Times (Art & Design section online):

“The Americans,” [is] an intimate visual chronicle of common people in ordinary situations drawn from several trips he made through his adopted country in the mid-1950s.

The Americans, by Robert Frank, a classic photographic study of the United States in the 1950’s, was first published May 15, 1958, by Robert Delpire in Paris, followed by an English edition in 1959 via Grove Press in New York, in which the original French language by Alain Bosquet about American history was replaced by an introduction and captions in English by Jack Kerouac.

As written at aloHAA:

The end result [of Frank’s photographic journey through the USA in the 1950’s] was the 83 images in the book that no American publisher would touch. It took a Frenchman, Robert Delpire, to publish “Les Americains” in 1958. Progressive publisher Barney Rosset produced the first American edition under his Grove Press the following year. Frank revealed a harsh, sometimes divided America that was a lot different from the rah-rah ’50s dream of “Father Knows Best.” His out-of-the-box compositions paved the way for William Eggleston’s profound color images of America that have garnered unanimous applause in the Whitney’s William Eggleston: Democratic Camera.” “No one has had a greater influence on photography in the last half-century than the Swiss-born Mr. Frank, though his reputation rests almost entirely on a single book published five decades ago,” writes Philip Gefter in the New York Times. “

The German publisher Steidl in Göttingen,
together with the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.
in 2008 published a new version of the book in three languages:

German (translation by Hans Wolf)
and Chinese (see e.g. 罗伯特·弗兰克的《美国人》 “The Americans” by Robert Frank).

Frank, 83 years old at the date of publication – a number which corresponds to the 83 tritone plates in the book, chosen out of 20,000 photographs – worked intensively himself on this new version of his now classic book, including for example using some negatives varying from previous editions.

The 13-character ISBN for the English version of the book is: 978-3-86521-584-0.
The 13-character ISBN for the German version of the book is: 978-3-86521-658-8.
The 13-character ISBN for the Chinese version of the book is: 978-3-86521-657-1.

This book is a “must have” for any library that includes materials on America.

For those of my friends in Nebraska, where I grew up, two of the plates in the book are from Nebraska, one of highway 30 between Ogallala and North Platte, and the other of Hested’s department store in Lincoln. I’ve seen both, and, yes, that’s exactly the way it looked.

Overflow Legal : A digg approach to the sheer Volume of Information available in the Law in the Digital Age

OverFlow Legal is trying the digg method of dealing with news information overflow and is offering a similar system of information evaluation with regard to legal news in the modern age.

It is a nice idea which, however, pits two conflicting forces against each other:
1) the need of legal professionals to manage information overflow more effectively; and,
2) the resistance of the skeptical Socratic legal mind to an abdication of intellectual choice.

We think that this idea will not gain much popular recognition in the legal community for the same reason that we ourselves no longer use digg, i.e. we are not prepared to let other Internet users who are unknown to us to determine for us what is important in the news and what is not, especially in view of the fact that online popularity populism tends to pull things down to the primitive level of the lowest common denominator.

This kind of news selection also tends to favor populistic topics marked by sensationalism, rather than by a cogent determination of what is truly important to the legal field. Moreover, those who determine what is to be read may be dominated in numbers by those who have idle time on their hands and who thus do not represent the mainstream interests of the legal community.

Hence, we give this concept little chance of succeeding. But then again, we are not typical.

Obama "Yes We Can" Fever Hits Germany

As an American expatriate in Germany, we find that people in the United States have little conception of their IMPACT on other world countries. Most people in the United States think that America is IMPORTANT to the rest of the world – actually, that is not the case, as the rest of the world does not really think much about America in their day-to-day living, but what America has is a worldwide IMPACT which can not be underestimated – and that is critical for world affairs.

On the eve of the Obama inauguration, we show you below the current adverstising campaign slogan “Yes We Can” of our regional ProMarkt store, one of Germany’s leading electronic discount chains.

That ad should give all of our readers – throughout the world – some idea of the IMPACT clout that America has. Do I buy at ProMarkt? You bet your boots.

Interactive Collaborative Student-Centered Learning is Best : Universities such as MIT are Getting Smarter

According to Sara Rimer at the New York Times, they are getting smarter at MIT, at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, at North Carolina State University, at the University of Maryland, at the University of Colorado at Boulder and at Harvard.

They are finally catching on that interactive and collaborative student-centered learning in smaller groups is far more effective than one-directional lectures preached from the pulpit by professors or their ilk to a multitude of young listeners in lecture halls.

We ourselves used to teach in four-hour stints to 200 students at a time in one large auditorium in a German law school and were always of the opinion that this antiquated model of teaching – prevalent in German legal education – was by no means the optimal method to exercise teaching responsibilities or to attain learning objectives.

It’s a good read. Take a look: At M.I.T., Large Lectures Are Going the Way of the Blackboard.

Kristy Kay has a New Song : I Will Wait

Kristy Kay has a new upbeat song at her website and at MySpace

I Will Wait

Lexmachina at Stanford Law School : Online IP Clearinghouse for Patents, Copyrights, Trademarks, Trade Secrets, Antitrust, free for non-commercial use

Lexmachina anyone?

Law@Stanford in the January 2009 issue links to a Sheri Qualters article about the fact that
Stanford Law School [has launched an] Online IP Clearinghouse writing:

Stanford Law School has launched the Stanford Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse [IPLC], a searchable online database of intellectual property cases filed since 2000…. The database contains more than 78,000 U.S. lawsuits, including, patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and antitrust cases….

As written by SLS (Stanford Law School) at Stanford IP Litigation Clearinghouse:

The IPLC will be made publicly online in phases, with the first release including the Patent Litigation Module, covering more than 23000 cases filed in US district courts since the year 2000.

Dian Schaffhauser at Campus Technology writes:

The Law, Science & Technology Program at Stanford Law School has launched the Intellectual Property Litigation Clearinghouse (IPLC)….

Patent litigation is a big risk for most companies because there is great uncertainty about the outcome,” said Mark Lemley, director of the Law, Science & Technology Program…. “We built this tool in part so that lawyers and judges could get more certainty….

“[W]e also built this tool so that scholars and policymakers could help Congress reform the patent system in rational ways, based on what’s really happening rather than our perception of what’s happening,” Lemley added….

“We are developing a core element of the US intellectual property infrastructure,” said Joshua Walker, founder of CodeX , the Stanford Center for Computers and Law, who directed the IPLC’s creation. “The bedrock of the system is based on tens of thousands of hours of vigorous legal review and discussion with leading experts….

Read Schaffhauser’s full article at Campus Technology.

As we first learned at by Michael C. Smith of Siebman, Reynolds, Burg, Phillips & Smith, LLP – Marshall office (they have offices in Sherman, Plano, Lufkin, and Marshall.), the database of the Stanford IP Clearinghouse is called Lexmachina.

LexMachina is open to the public for free for non-commercial use only.
Registration is required.

We registered and looked at the IPLC Terms of Service, which provide, inter alia:


Your access and account are strictly limited to non-commercial use. You may not use this site for any commercial purpose or for private sector remuneration—directly or indirectly. Some examples of EXCLUDED uses include, but are not limited to: (i) attorney use of IPLC Services to defend, manage, or prosecute any litigation (EXCEPT usage for bona fide pro bono representations, or use by U.S. government attorneys, per above); (ii) use by a litigation consultant, of any kind, in relation to an actual or potential litigation; (iii) any use by, on behalf, or for the benefit of a for-profit legal entity, whether such entity is extant or to be created; (iv) use of IPLC Services by anyone to analyze the purchase, sale, licensing, commercialization, or valuation of any intellectual property; (v) use of the IPLC to create an IP or litigation related database of any kind (see also all prohibitions below); (vi) use by a trade or lobbying group without written and explicit permission from the IPLC Director; or (vii) use by an IP commercialization entity or division of any legal form. The above usages, and any other commercial or remunerative usages, are expressly prohibited.

[NON-BINDING NOTE: We are in the process of developing separate institutional mechanisms to legally allow for commercial use. We intend to allow such access in the very near future. Thank you. END OF NOTE.]