January 2008

Lawrence Summers and "The World is Flat"

January 30, 2008

Lawrence Summers gave his version of a “the world is flat” speech at the SKAGEN conference in Oslo on January 10, 2008. The speech, which covers a bit of everything — the industrial revolution, the rise of capitalism, the environment, the roles of China, India and other emerging economies in the world’s economy, the 2008 presidential election, the subprime crisis, the housing crisis (and more) — is worth a listen. Summers is not a warm and fuzzy guy, and he’s quite controversial; you might not want to spend a semester or two in his classroom or have him as your dissertation advisor. But, he is a bona fide “very smart guy”: Harvard Ph.D in economics, tenured professor at Harvard by age 28, Chief Economist of the World Bank, Secretary of the Treasury, President of Harvard College, and (some think) on the short list of candidates for future Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Bernanke and Summers are almost identical in age). Link here – click on Summers’ name.

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So, What Does Chief Justice Roberts "Really" Think of the U.S. Patent Office?

January 18, 2008

Question by C. J. Roberts at oral argument in Quanta v. LG, earlier this week: we’ve had experience with the Patent Office where it tends to grant patents a lot more liberally than we would enforce under the patent law. (Transcript, p. 49, January 16, 2008). The issue in Quanta is whether the licensed sale of components used in a patented invention exhausts the patent owner’s patent rights. The comment by Chief Justice Roberts was a reference to the Supreme Court’s decision in KSR Int’l v. Teleflex, Inc., which has been widely understood to have made it more difficult to obtain new patents and defend existing patents. The Patent Office has been widely criticized for issuing unworthy patents. Do you think anyone there is paying attention?

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David Byrne on the Evolution of Business Models in the Music Industry

January 18, 2008

David Byrne has published a very interesting article in Wired on the various business models in the music industry, and how the Internet and digital music is changing those models and offering artists more opportunities. David Byrne’s Survival Strategies for Emerging Artists – And Megastars Where there was one, now there are six: Six possible music distribution models, ranging from one in which the artist is pretty much hands-off to one where the artist does nearly everything. Not surprisingly, the more involved the artist is, the more he or she can often make per unit sold. The totally DIY model is certainly not for everyone – but that’s the point. Now there’s choice. . . . Click the image below for larger version of the graphic.

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Amazon Caught in Common Settlement Trap

January 16, 2008

If you’re in the middle of a trial, don’t tell the judge that you’ve settled the case unless you absolutely, positively mean it. Amazon fell into this trap in its recent litigation with Basis Technology, a Massachusetts linguistics software company. On the third day of trial over a dispute arising out of a contractual relationship the parties informed the judge that the case had been settled. The judge ended the trial, but the settlement agreement that the parties then attempted to negotiate for signature foundered over the calculation of Amazon’s minority stock ownership in Basis, an important element of the settlement. After the dispute was brought to the attention of the trial judge she examined the negotiations and held that the intention of the parties had been to settle. She ruled that all of the material terms of the settlement had been agreed upon, and that Amazon’s objection to the stock calculation was a “post hoc objection” insufficient to derail the settlement. The trial judge refused to reopen the trial, and entered judgment on the terms sought by Basis. Amazon appealed the judgment entered by the trial court, but the Appeals Court rejected the appeal. In addition to affirming the reasoning of the trial court judge, the Appeals Court emphasized an important principle, long recognized by many courts: when you report a case settled during trial, the court will bend…

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Life: What A Concept

January 15, 2008

Edge has posted as a free online publication the complete transcript of this summer’s Edge event, Life: What a Concept! as a 43,000- word downloadable PDF book. This is a transcript of an event that took place at Eastover Farm in Bethlehem, CT on Monday, August 27th, 2007. Invited to address the topic “Life: What a Concept!” were Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Robert Shapiro, Dimitar Sasselov, and Seth Lloyd. These scientists are some of the most visionary scientific thinkers in the world. Warning: this is heaving going …. Click here to download the pdf file.

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Lawyers Sanctioned $8.5 Million and Reported to State Bar Over Failure to Produce Electronic Evidence

January 12, 2008

When I was a new lawyer, working at Howrey in Washington, D.C, the firm ‘s client, Litton Industries, was sanctioned in the amount of $10 million for discovery misconduct – the failure to produce relevant documents during discovery. But for the sanction, Litton would have been entitled to an award of its costs and attorneys fees in the litigation, which it had won. I suspect, however, that Litton (and Howrey) took this with good graces – Litton had been awarded $277 million in damages. See Litton Systems, Inc. v. AT&T, 91 F.R.D. 574 (S.D. N.Y 1981), aff’d, 700 F.2d 785 (2nd Cir. 1983). Ironically, the documents in question (which were produced very late but before trial) were ruled inadmissible at trial, and therefore the defendant suffered no prejudice as a result of the late production. Even though I was not involved in this case while at Howrey, this painful episode for the firm and the lawyers directly involved left a lasting memory upon my young and impressionable mind, and I recalled it as I read about the pickle in which a group of California lawyers have found themselves in the patent case Qualcomm v. Broadcom. In the Qualcomm case a key issue was whether Qualcomm, which accused Broadcom of patent infringement, had participated in the Joint Video Team (“JVT”), a standards-setting body. Broadcom aggresively sought discovery from Qualcomm on its…

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The Greater Boston Innovation Map

January 10, 2008

Xconomy has created a Google Map showing the location of each company they have covered in their first six months as a web magazine (125 so far, and counting). The pins are color-coded to indicate software, hardware, energy, life sciences, finance, media and nonprofit. Clicking on a pin on the large map embedded in the article (scroll to the bottom of the article) gives you the address of the company and the Xconomy stories about that company. Very cool ….

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