The Wayback Machine and the DMCA

by Lee Gesmer on July 14, 2005

Copyright, Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Quick now, what’s a good legal strategy when you’re involved in a bitterly contested trade secret, copyright and trademark case? Sue the lawyers on the other side, accusing them of hacking, of course. At worst, you’ll distract them and knock them off their game; at best, you’ll force their disqualification, pushing them out of the case and making your opponent go to the expense and inconvenience (not to be underestimated) of hiring new counsel and and getting them up to speed on the case.

And, it doesn’t matter that your suit may be borderline or even frivolous. Every experienced lawyer knows that in the American legal system the risks of being sanctioned for bringing a frivolous suit are only slightly higher than finding a hundred dollar bill on a Times Square sidewalk during lunch hour.

So, what happened here? First, there is an underlying trademark and trade secret suit between the similarly named “Healthcare Advocates” and “Health Advocate” that is of no particular interest to anyone except the parties.… Read the full article

Interview With Tim Berners-Lee

by Lee Gesmer on July 12, 2005

Technology. Tim Berners-Lee is widely recognized as the inventor of the World Wide Web. Today, he is the Director of the World Wide Web Consortium, Senior Researcher at MIT‘s CSAIL, and Professor of Computer Science at Southampton ECS.

Mr. Berners-Lee’s current project is the development of a Semantic Web, a dramatic enhancement of the current web which is described in detail here.

This Spring (2005) my partner Andrew Updegrove interviewed Mr. Berners-Lee regarding the Semantic Web.

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Following the Supreme Court’s June 27, 2005 decision in MGM v. Grokster I wrote a short article about the case, in the style of a client consulting a lawyer about a file-sharing system.

Attorney: Judy, what brings you to my office today?

Client: John, I have an exciting idea, and I want to run it by you to make sure it passes legal muster. I’ve been involved in indie music and film for years; I have hundreds of contacts in the entertainment industry. People don’t realize what a huge body of uncommercialized work is out there! I’ve developed the most radical peer-to-peer file-sharing software you can imagine. It makes Napster, Grokster, Morpheus and all of the others look medieval by comparison. I think that musicians and video producers will contribute their works to this network to get publicity. My revenue model will be based on banner advertising. It’s perfect!… Read the full article

Trademark Law. Last year I wrote (together with Susan Mulholland, an attorney at my firm), an article on the WhenU line of cases. We reviewed the three legal decisions that had been published to date on the WhenU technology: two from the district courts in Virginia and Michigan holding that WhenU’s practice was permissible; and one, from the federal district court in New York holding that WhenU had violated the Lanham Act, the federal trademark statute.

What does WhenU do that resulted in three federal court cases? In brief, once downloaded by a user (concealed in a “Trojan Horse” application), WhenU’s software will continuously monitor (invisibly, to the user) the user’s Internet browser to determine whether content accessed by the user matches key words stored in WhenU’s client directory. When the software finds a match for an associated key word – often a trademark or service mark – it triggers the SaveNow program to transmit a WhenU-branded pop-up ad to the user’s computer.… Read the full article