Some of the biggest names on the web have written to Peter Mandelson to express "grave concerns" about elements of the Digital Economy Bill.

Facebook, Google, Yahoo and eBay object to a clause that they say could give government "unprecedented and sweeping powers" to amend copyright laws.

"We urge you to remove Clause 17 from the bill," the letter read.

However, the government has said it believes the clause will "future-proof online copyright laws".

"The law must keep pace with technology, so that the Government can act if new ways of seriously infringing copyright develop in the future," a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Bis).

The consortium believe that if Clause 17, as it is known, is approved it will give "any future Secretary of State" the ability to amend copyright laws as they see fit.

And it's that last sentence that have people, and businesses, up in arms as current laws provide the stability many entrepreneurs need to survive. They rightfully claim that "This clause would inject an unprecedented level of uncertainty in this regard." Check out Fildes' Web giants unite against Digital Britain copyright plan for more on this united attack against uncertainty and too much freedom to regulate.

IP Prospective: Corporate & securities and intellectual property law attorney Ian D. McClure is an expert on "the exciting issues of IP protection, IP monetization, IP management, IP finance, and IP investment" and offers his thoughts on Fair Use Vs. "Don't You Dare Use It" in his topical piece entitled Two Takes on Intellectual Property Rights: Academic vs. Legal. McClure writes:

…[T]here is a point of diminishing marginal returns, where every extra unit of “protection” of intellectual property rights actually begins to produce less of an incentivizing effect.  In turn, the more “exclusivity” encompassed in the IP rights granted to an author/inventor/artist, the less creation results.  Here, “exclusivity” is defined by (1) the duration of the term of protection, (2) the disclosure that is required in the registration process (less disclosure required = less creation), (3) whether compulsory licenses are granted or required under respective law, (4) whether and to what extent disclosure is required in transactions involving intellectual property rights, including licenses, and (5) whether and to what extent “fair use” of intellectual property is allowed under respective law.

McClure, of course, believes in IP protection but correctly assumes that too much of a good thing can actually be bad. You know, like that last shot of tequila from a now-empty bottle that just 2 short hours ago was simply a lime-salt-worm bit of good cheer shared with a few friends at the local taqueria. With some solid facts (are there *really* such things as "solid facts"?) and some zippy graphs to back them up, McClure's argument at least has the potential to start up a lively comment section if not an actual flame war.

The 271 Patent Blog: The NTP vs. RIM case has generated plenty of IP lawsuit interest after "NTP successfully asserted 5 patents against RIM, receiving judgment in the amount of $53.7M, as well as a permanent injunction" but that's not the end of the story, gentle reader. Peter Zura deigns to fill us in on what's happening now in this on-going IP battle that continues to garner plenty of attention:

While this controversy continues to linger, the BPAI [Ed. Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences]  has released opinions on 3 of the 5 NTP patents that were rejected during reexamination.  In the opinions, some of the rejections were reversed, but most of the rejections, particularly the obviousness rejections (now subject to KSR), were upheld.  It appears that all of NTP's claims are rejected.  The opinions are an interesting read, but long – in total, the 3 opinions are almost 800 pages in length and address hundreds of different claims.

If wading through dense legal documents is your idea of a good time, be certain not to miss Zura's post on the matter, BPAI Starts Issuing Decisions on NTP/RIM Patent Reexaminations.

Bauer Business Law, LLC: If you haven't already heard about it, a new Google tool "allows Internet users to annotate comments on websites" and is generating its fair share of intellectual property concerns according to a recent article by Andrew. He writes, "Most website comments annotated with Sidewiki that I saw in a quick, wildly unrepresentative and unscientific survey I conducted are precisely that — commentary, either praising or respectfully responding to the content on the site. However, it is easy to imagine Sidewiki being used for competitive, abusive or deceptive purposes. For example, a competitor could trash a site’s products and services or post links to its own site in an effort to divert traffic. Or (as happened recently with Apple and other high-profile sites), a nattering nabob of negativism could simply post pejorative comments without any type of economic agenda whatsoever. All of this raises a host of intellectual property and brand abuse issues for site owners." To check out Andrew's enumeration of these potential abuses and how any business can take action against "unlawful" use of Google's Sidewiki product, just click on the following link: Sidewiki Raises IP, Brand Concerns for Site Owners. Apple computer clone maker Psystar would have been better armed to successfully bring its knock-off competitive computer line to market if they had studied the company's previous intellectual property fights more carefully. According to Lessons from the Apple-Psystar Battle by Peter Burroughs, Psystar is playing David to Apple's Goliath and might end up as a featured member in the "what not to do" playbook :

Whatever the outcome of Psystar's ongoing battle, even now the saga carries some important lessons for other would-be challengers to tech's status quo.

Don't pick a legal fight you can't win (put another way, don't mess with Apple). The onetime underdog is now one of the staunchest defenders of its intellectual property, and it has a $24 billion cash hoard to help press its case in court. Also, Psystar's young founders, Rudy and Robert Pedraza, could have checked their Apple history books. After Apple CEO Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1997, one of his first moves was to nix deals Apple then had with Power Computing, Motorola (MOT) and Umax, which briefly enjoyed a license from Apple to sell Mac lookalikes. Although Power Computing had vaulted to $400 million in sales thanks to Mac clones, Jobs got the company to leave the playing field in exchange for a payment of just $100 million. "Jobs has never stood by for anyone to go near Apple's IP, and they always go to the mat" to protect it, says Roger Kay, founder of Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Burroughs says Psystar "certainly has scrappiness on its side" but will that be enough to overcome billions of dollars in Apple's legal offer and a slew of IP lawsuits that ended favorably for Jobs & Co.? Any one have a comment to offer up?

Bonus IP piece o' the day: To troll or not to troll, is that the question? by Matt Asay at