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We shouldn’t take the reliability of our phone system for granted. Although some characterize the phone system’s current rules as unsuitable for newer technologies, these rules are necessary to make the system work, regardless of the underlying technology.
On Wednesday, the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee held a hearing on what’s commonly called the IP transition. Basically, as John described on the blog a few weeks ago, newer packet-switched technologies are gradually replacing the traditional technologies behind our phone network. Because this presents an important opportunity to shape the future of our phone network, the Subcommittee invited a panel of communications experts, including our very own Harold Feld, to speak on the government’s role in the transition.
As Harold discussed in his testimony, the phone network should continue operating smoothly and reliably, regardless of the underlying technology. Deliberate policy choices have ensured the high level of quality we almost take for granted today. Our Five Fundamentals articulate the principles behind policies that have shaped the phone network: service to all Americans, competition and interconnection, consumer protection, network reliability, and public safety. And these same principles should continue guiding our phone network, no matter what technology it runs on.
Public Knowledge takes its fight for clear patents to the Patent Office.
If it’s not clear by now, I really don’t like unclear patents. I have blogged about how Intellectual Ventures applied for a patent on Microsoft’s Clippy, showed the Supreme Court how a 350-word patent claim was merely 16 lines of computer code, and filed a brief arguing that vague patents are impeding innovation.
Public Knowledge files an amicus brief with EFF, to attack patents with fuzzy boundaries that impede innovation.
Imagine you are buying a house, and find out that the next-door neighbor owns all the property that is in a “spaced relationship” apart from the fence. How are you supposed to know what is yours and what is your neighbor’s? If you build a shed a foot away from the fence, is it yours or the neighbor’s?
Of course, this is a ridiculous situation. When we draw property boundaries, we draw lines, not blurry clouds that force others to guess what is inside and what is outside.
But this is not the case for patents. Although patents are supposed to specify the boundaries of what infringes and what does not—just like your house’s title deed does—courts regularly allow fuzzy language like “spaced relationship” to be used in defining those patent boundaries. Indeed, the words “spaced relationship” came straight from the patent that is at issue in the case Nautilus v. Biosig Instruments, which was considered acceptable by the appeals court, and is now before the Supreme Court for consideration.
We made an animated GIF photo booth and now you can too.
Last week at our annual IP3 Awards, we debuted a new addition to the Public Knowledge family: the GIFerator. Basically, it was a photobooth that let attendees make their own animated GIFs and publish them to the internet. We designed the GIFerator with openness in mind and on top of open technologies, so this blog post is intended to share our process and document it well enough for you to set up your own.
A story has been circulating about a group of men in East New York who were charging people $20 to view an image of a beaver that street artist Banksy has stenciled onto a wall there. In any case, it’s generated a series of questions about various parties’ rights.
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