Category: Intellectual property
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has created a curriculum for high school students on the topic of Copyright. I spent some time reviewing it, and it looks like an excellent resource for anyone wanting to know more about this important subject.
Why is it that generic drug makers sometimes delay entering the market, sometimes long after the drug patent expires? This is another tale in corporatocracy, told by Alternet:
[I]magine you’re a big-time drug company. You want to keep competitors off the market as long as possible. Your move is to basically sue the pants off the generic drugmaker for copyright infringement, setting in motion a long and tortuous legal process. And these usually end with “pay-for-delay” deals. The brand-name drug company pays the generic manufacturer a cash settlement, and the generic manufacturer agrees to delay entry into the market for a number of years. In the case before the Supreme Court, the drug company paid $30 million a year to protect its $125 million annual profit in AndroGel, a testosterone supplement.
It’s hard to see this as anything but bribery, designed to preserve a lucrative monopoly for the brand-name drug maker. In fact, this is what the Federal Trade Commission has argued for over a decade. They consider it a violation of antitrust law, arguing that the exchange of cash gives the generic manufacturer a share of future profits in the drug, specifically to prolong the monopoly. As SCOTUSBlog summarizes from the FTC’s court brief, in the regulator’s view, “Nothing in patent law … validates a system in which brand-name companies could buy off their would-be competitors.” Indeed, everyone wins with pay-for-delay but the consumer: the FTC estimates that the two dozen deals inked in 2012 alone cost drug patients $3.5 billion annually, with the brand-name and generic manufacturers splitting the ill-gotten profits.
Here is an infographic with some surprising numbers.
Join EFF and the Public Participation Project in calling on Congress to support the PETITION Act, strong federal anti-SLAPP legislation. The concept is simple: when a blogger faces a legal threat for legitimate online content, she can file a motion to get the case dismissed quickly. If the case is found to be frivolous in court, she won’t have to pay the legal fees.”
Here is discussion of a meritless suit against Matthew Inman that illustrates the need for such a law.
This ABC news report reframes what it means to illegally download intellectual property.
[Professor Stuart Green from Rutgers University Law School] says illegal downloading is more similar to the crime of trespass than it is to theft.
“To say that there was a trespass is traditionally understood to mean that there was a temporary use of someone’s property without permission,” he said.
“If someone trespasses on your property it means that they’ve come uninvited but they haven’t deprived you of use. They haven’t deprived you of the basic possession of the property.
“But to say that someone’s stolen something is to say something much more serious. It’s probably the single most substantial form of property crime that we have.
“And that’s exactly what the music and movie industries in the United States would like to happen. They want people to think that illegal downloading is just as bad and should be punished just as severely.”
Farhad Manjoo gives us some good news in the wars against patent trolls:
When companies are sued for patent infringement, or when they’re proactively protecting themselves from an infringement claim, they often hire a prior art search firm to look for related inventions. But such searches tend to be expensive—you usually need to hire researchers in many different countries—and not all that effective, because even professional searchers tend to miss a lot of stuff. More than a decade ago, a young patent attorney named Cheryl Milone had a flash of insight for solving this problem: “I wondered, instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, what if you could ask each piece of hay if it’s a needle?” That might sound like some kind of riddle, but Milone’s insight has transformed patent litigation. In 2008, she founded Article One Partners, a firm that invites amateurs to look for prior art and rewards successful researchers with cash.
I was reading my usual science blogs, and came across Weekend Diversion: And now, they’re coming for me. Yeah, me. Because I write for you. at Starts With a Bang. Apparently Congress is creating new classes of felons that would have no idea they were doing anything even technically wrong.
In brief, U.S. Senate Bill 978 (that just cleared committee) makes it a Federal Offense (felony) if you happen to embed someone’s video on your post that someday someone may claim infringed on a copyright. If I, for example, embed a video of some stranger’s birthday party on this blog, that pans briefly across a television set that happened to be playing a commercial for shoes, that has background music by the Beatles, and in five years Michael Jackson’s heirs decide that this infringed on their copyright on the music of McCartney and yank the video, I could technically be sentenced to up to 5 years in prison. Even if the creator of the video, the owners of the network, and the shoe company and its marketing agent all had approved my use.
Ethan Siegel has more details about this silliness and suggestions on his post.