14 ottobre 2008

KIDS Act Passed Into Law

The Keeping the Internet Devoid of Sexual Predators Act of 2008 is now law.  The KIDS Act provides for an information exchange between the Attorney General and the social networking sites, in order to prevent known sexual predators from accessing such websites.  In particular, Attorney General shall establish and maintain a secure system that permits social networking websites to compare the information contained in the National Sex Offender Registry with the Internet identifiers of users of the social networking websites.  The new law has been promptly embraced by Facebook.     

03 ottobre 2008

Europe Aims to Lead the Transition to Web 3.0

Somebody may argue that the Internet is a living creature. In fact, instead of following a linear pattern like other sciences and technologies, the rhythm of its evolution progresses in terms of generations. 
In the beginning there was the Web (nobody ever called it Web 1.0...) and, if you 
are nostalgic about it, you may want to travel in the past and check a 2001 vintage "Google!" search . The exclamation mark was a must-have-it, during the age of Web 1.0.
Then Youtube, Twitter and Facebook took over and here you go with the second generation: the Web 2.0 - the most (ab)used expression to describe the articulated variety of internet services involving users' active participation. But this is history, already.  
In fact, despite the eggheads cannot even agree on its precise definition, the Web 3.0 is a reality.
Moreover, such concept of Web 3.0 has already been embraced by the European Commission , which defined it as the Internet of Things, taking place through wireless interaction between machines, vehicles, appliances, sensors and many other devices. "Web 3.0 means seamless 'anytime, anywhere' business, entertainment and social networking over fast reliable and secure networks," said Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information Society and Media. "It means the end of the divide between mobile and fixed lines. It signals a tenfold quantum leap in the scale of the digital universe by 2015. Europe has the know-how and the network capacity to lead this transformation. We must make sure that Web 3.0 is made and used in Europe."
I personally appreciate and welcome this attitude and look forward to seeing Europe leading the Web 3.0 revolution.  However, if you actually read the Communication , you may notice that the challenges for the implementation of a fully integrated network deeply involve the European local authorities, the EU legislation and - last but not least - significant investments in infrastructures.  Hopefully, the European bureaucracy will be able to keep pace with the Web re-generation cycle because, just in case you nobody told you, there are already more the a hundred thousand results for the Web 4.0.

12 settembre 2008

WIPO Reports Increased Internationalization of Patent Filings

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) recently published  World Patent Report 2008.  The report, based on 2006 figures, shows that patents granted worldwide increased by 18%, with 727,000 patents granted in 2006 alone.  According to these statistics, the total number of patents in force worldwide at the end of 2006 was approximately 6.1 million.
The Report also shows that North East Asian countries (mainly China and the Republic of Korea) and the United States of America led the overall growth in worldwide filing of patent applications.  According to the Director General of WIPO, Dr. Kamil Idris "this reflects a consolidation of earlier trends which demonstrate a marked shift in innovation hubs around the world.” 
The increased internationalization of patent activity is demonstrated - according the Report -  by the growth in international filings through the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the multilateral agreement administered by WIPO which provides a simplified method for international patent filing.  The number of international patent application submitted via the PCT in 2007 is estimated to be 158,400, representing a 5.9% increase over the previous year.  
The statistics, however, confirm a certain concentration of the innovative activity, since the Report pointed out to a growing tendency for traditional applicants to file their applications in multiple countries.  In fact, the USA keeps being by far the largest user of the PCT system.  In 2006, 33.6% of all PCT filings originated from the USA, almost twice that of the next largest user, Japan, which accounted for 17.5% of all PCT filings.

25 agosto 2008

Series A Financing Library

If you are working on a start-up, or you are a corporate lawyer, or just in case you are looking forward to collecting something valuable for your legal library, you cannot miss this.
Y Combinator and Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati made available an entire set of documents created to use when raising angel rounds. 
Y-C and WSGR disclaim: "While they may not be suitable for all situations, the goal was to make the terms fairly neutral. So while we would of course advise both parties using these documents to have their lawyers look at them, they provide a starting point that we hope can be used in many situations without too many modifications.
Needless to say, neither YC nor WSGR assumes any responsibility for any consequence of using these documents."
Find all the documents

22 agosto 2008

Open Source and Open Licenses as Copyright's Offsprings

Open Source and open licenses may appear as copyright's worst enemies.  Ironically, in order to ensure free access to certain content it is necessary to enforce copyright.

The idea is simple as well as counterintuitive: if you want to grant public and free access to a work of authorship, it is best if you establish that such work is protected under copyright law.  In this way, you can require that further publication and derivative works may be subject to certain conditions: e.g., to be licensed under the same license, for free, with no limitation for derivative works and with credit to the original author.
Otherwise, if your creative work were to fall in the public domain, anybody could claim a proprietary right on derivative works.

In a recent case decided by the Court of Appeal of the Federal Circuit (Jacobsen v. Katzer and Kamind Associate, Inc.), the Court addressed - among the others - an interesting issue, namely whether it is possible to enforce an open license, given the (alleged) lack of economic interest by the copyright holder.
Eventually, the Court acknowledged that the conditions i) to give credit to the author and ii) to display the copyright notice, represent a sufficient economic interest to uphold a public license.  In fact, giving credit to the author -in the case of an open license- is not merely a moral right, it rather encompasses an inherent benefit for the author.
In particular, the Court defined such benefit as follows:
"The attribution and modification transparency requirements directly serve to drive traffic to the open source incubation page and to inform downstream users of the project, which is a significant economic goal of the copyright holder that the law will enforce. Through this controlled spread of information, the copyright holder gains creative collaborators to the open source project; by requiring that changes made by downstream users be visible to the copyright holder and others, the copyright holder learns about the uses for his software and gains others' knowledge that can be used to advance future software releases."
I am not absolutely sure that such statement is truly catching the spirit of the Open Source project.  However, it looks like a robust argument and a preeminent endorsement of open licenses.  Somehow a windfall.

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