January 2008

Lawrence Summers and "The World is Flat"

by Lee Gesmer on 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).… Read the full article

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?… Read the full article

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

by Lee Gesmer on 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.… Read the full article