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Closing the IP Law Thread

Greetings All,

        On 3/10/02 at 12:24 PM, timrue@mindspring.com (Timothy Rue) wrote:

        > On the Intellectual Property issues: <snip>

    The Intellectual Property implications of .NET and Microsoft's potential
litigation plans are fascinating topics, but I think we are drifting away from
the charter of this list.

    Since I am an attorney licensed to practice in New York when I am not
wearing my researcher hat, let me try to wrap this thread up by noting that the
legal community is starting to recognize that we have a problem with the
direction of IP Law.

    At this year's Annual Meeting of the New York State Bar Association voices
of concern were raised in the sessions on both Intellectual Property Law and
Antitrust Law.

    For the best paper on the topic, see Carl Shapiro's "Navigating the Patent
Thicket" at: http://haas.berkeley.edu/~shapiro/thicket.pdf

    Finally, as I explained to colleagues at the First Joint Conference on
Digital Libraries, the root of this mess lies in how we teach Law Students about
Intellectual Property Law. 

    Most lawyers really believe that no one would write any software "but for"
their ability to get a patent on it. They *think* we want a world where we can
get patents on our most trivial ideas and business methods. Indeed, the
conventional wisdom is that shifting competition from the marketplace to the
courtroom will help the little guy!

    But what is really at work here is that Law School IP programs get support
(and seek jobs for their graduates) from Law Firms that depend on IP litigation
to turn a profit. So the views of large entities that can afford to hire such
firms dominate the debate and students get a distorted picture of what software
developers need to prosper.

    Not everyone in legal academia subscribes to this view and Stanford Law
Professor Lawrence Lessig (http://lessig.org) is the most notable light of
reason, but the solution to our problems is to educate future lawyers about the
negative consequences of overreaching IP protection.

    So if you want to take some kind of action that might improve the legal
climate for software people, think about contacting a Law School or Bar
Association near you and offering to come in as a guest speaker. Let the Law
Students and practicing Attorneys know that there is another side to the debate.

    You can also take solace in the fact that Lawyers themselves may soon be on
the receiving end of some of these IP absurdities, for we were told at the
Annual Meeting that a Patent had been issued on a Method for Preparing Patents -
in essence, the practice of law itself may be patentable!

    So closing on that note, perhaps we could turn back to Alex's question from
the 8th:

        > Or, to put it another way, why is .Net a better
        > platform than plan9 or linda?

Warmest Regards,


Peter J. Wasilko, Esq.        Director, The Continuity Project
     J.D., LL.M.				

Its time to abandon brittle architectures with poorly factored
interfaces, gratuitous complexity, and kludged designs dominated
by sacrifices on the alter of backwards compatibility.

Such artifacts are vulnerable to cyber-attack, weigh down the
economy costing trillions of dollars in lost productivity, and
suffer from an impoverished conceptual model that lacks the
integration and elegance needed to support the hypermedia
applications and libraries of the future.

The Continuity Project - Pursuing Secure, Simple, Supple, 
	and Sophisticated Systems to Unlock Our Human Potential