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[BKARTS] Threats posed by large firms using Copyright and Patent laws

If the moderator wishes to post only the URL, that's fine. Here is the
text in case it saves anyone time. If it were not relevant to recent
discussions, I would not post it here.

Perhaps it will become clear why the recent copyright decisions are so
important to giant firms, and why they want us all to pay top price for
everything. When companies cannot win markets through competition, they
use Laws to rout competitors.

It has never had anything to do with authors and creators and their
families having their rights protected. It is about companies employing
Legislation to crush competitors and protect their market share.


New technologies face legal minefield
By Lisa M. Bowman
CNET News.com
April 23, 2003, 4:46 AM PT
URL: http://zdnet.com.com/2100-1105-997950.html

SANTA CLARA, CALIF.--Companies face a host of legal land mines that they
need to consider when developing emerging technology, attorneys at the
O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference told developers Tuesday.

The attorneys said companies are increasingly wielding patent and
copyright laws such as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to
thwart competitors and maintain their market share. As a result, the
attorneys said, we're heading toward a world where companies
increasingly need to consider the legal ramifications of their products.

Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Fred von Lohmann said, for
example, that companies in the entertainment industry are increasingly
looking for nuances in copyright law that will allow them to shut down
those they see as a threat, as they did with Napster and Scour.

He said companies that provide services, end-user licenses, and
increasingly, automatic updates, could become targets of intellectual
property holders who argue that such companies could do more to stop
copyright infringement because they've established an ongoing
relationship with their customers.

For instance, von Lohmann said, companies that provide automatic updates
may come under fire because intellectual property owners could argue
that such companies could send out a kill patch if they suspect or learn
about a copyright infringement. He said companies such as Microsoft and
other software makers that automatically update are starting to worry
about such scenarios. "These issues come up in back rooms all the time,"
he said.

Von Lohmann also predicted that more and more companies will build
authentication measures into their products so that they can wield the
DMCA to quash competitors. The law makes the act of breaking
authentication measures illegal. "They will invoke the DMCA to prevent
anyone from interoperating with their systems," he said.

For example, he said, companies in the instant messaging market, long a
battlefield in the interoperability wars, could build some
authentication code into their products and then sue anyone who cracks
the digital handshakes. The move would discourage competitors from
developing products that interoperate because they would have to break
the authentication code to do so, an act that could violate the DMCA.

Already, the DMCA has seeped into the market for printer cartridges and
garage door openers. Printer maker Lexmark International and automatic
garage door maker Skylink successfully have wielded the DMCA to ward off
competitors who wanted to develop toners and garage door openers that
would interoperate with their products. In both cases, the companies
claimed that the competitors broke their protection measures.

Emerging companies also need to be wary of patent claims, according to
Fenwick & West lawyer Rajiv Patel.

Patel said the biggest trend for companies in the down economy is
increasingly leveraging their patents to make money through licensing
fees. "It's an opportunity to generate revenue," Patel said. He said
many companies also are using patents to quash competitors, hoping
they'll be discouraged by the costs of fighting patent claims. He said
companies can burn through as much as $50,000 to $500,000 per month
defending themselves against such claims.

He urged small companies to develop a patents strategy and portfolio
that will work as a strong defense against future claims.

Right now, he said, there's a patent landgrab in the wireless
communications, security, nanotechnology and biotechnology markets. He
said wireless companies are patenting ways to transfer data at higher
bit rates. They more efficiently deal with graphics, while biotechnology
companies are patenting ways to deliver drugs or create them. "People
are positioning themselves to protect their technology," he said.

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