In a fantastically thorough and meaty piece, Head Patent Barista Stephen Albainy-Jenei dissects The Patent Reform Act of 2010: A Substitute S. 515 and reveals, to general dismay, that “It’s like Apple’s Get-a-Mac ad that talks about all the promises of previous versions of Windows®.” But don’t jump yet; it’s not all bad news. Albainy-Jenei reports:

The Amendment to S. 515 seems to meet the goal of establishing a simpler, objectively-based, transparent patent system that can eliminate patents that should not have issued and speed the processing of patents that should be issued.

The new patent law would includes a number of improvements to the patent laws such as provisions to update and improve the patent marking statute.

 And what about the costs associated with updating US patent law to global, modern standards? There’s a paragraph in the piece addressing just that issue:

An amendment is likely to be offered to allow the Office to retain all of the fees paid for the filing, examination, grant, and maintenance of patents and to use them for these purposes. Adoption of this amendment is critical to the success of the efforts of the Office to promptly issue quality patents and should be strongly supported.

Whether or not the amendment to S. 515 gains traction will determine if the USPTO remains trapped in an archaic and ineffectual system or will launch itself successfully into a streamlined, well-funded and capable machine that selects for quality patents in a timely manner. Be sure to read the rest of Albainy-Jenei’s excellent analysis of the amendment and get up to speed on a pertinent piece of IP legislation.

The New York Times – BITS Column: Internet security software manufacturer McAfee recently highlighted the shortcomings of an intellectual property security program called Perforce and the story was picked up by reporter Riva Richmond who provides additional information in her topical piece, Flawed Security Exposes Vital Software to Hackers. She writes on the vulnerabilities of software code management systems:

McAfee is advocating tighter security around all these systems in light of the rising hacker interest and the value and sensitivity of the content they house. “In general, we think it represents a big possible area of exposure,” Mr. Kurtz said. “Data has value. It’s the currency of the current generation,” he added. “If companies had this level of security in their cash-management systems, they’d be broke.”

Perforce is crying “Foul!” in reaction to McAfee’s less-than-flattering assessment of its security software for SCM applications. Here is Christopher Seiwald, president and chief technology officer, on his company’s product and its abilities:

Perforce said it worked with McAfee to find any security vulnerabilities in its product. But it argued that most of McAfee’s discoveries were under conditions where its security measures were turned off, which is not the state in which they typically exist in inside customers’ networks. Mr. Seiwald said there are “other minor issues that we’re looking into and addressing,” but that “none allow a hacker into your Perforce server without first dusting down your front door.”

Customers have not so far voiced concerns about Perforce’s security measures, he said, but the company will probably offer additional security features in the future. “That is probably the direction we are unfortunately going,” he said. “We’re a great target because, you know, we hold the goods.”

Ah-ha! “Additional security features in the future,” he says. But not in response to McAfee’s report, huh? Smells a bit like brown Malarkey, Mr. Seiwald. Any software that is supposed to help reduce IP theft from corporations but actually enables it is not worth using even if it were offered free of charge. The busy bees at the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) are circling around the FCC’s “Open Internet” efforts but not with any intention of bringing honey to the party. Rather, the EFF is gathering a large army of sting-happy drones in an attempt to close “a loophole for copyright enforcement in its proposed regulations for network neutrality”. Nate Anderson has more details for the gentle reader in his recent topical post,  EFF demands FCC close copyright “loophole” in net neutrality. From Anderson’s piece comes a statement by one of the EFF’s queen bees:

“Before the ink is dry on net neutrality regulations, we already see corporate lobbyists and ‘public decency’ advocates pushing for loopholes,” said EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick. “A loophole like this could swallow network neutrality, with ISPs claiming copyright enforcement as a pretext for all sorts of discriminatory behavior.”

The EFF is reasonably worried that ISPs’ actions to eliminate the transmission of ‘unlawful content’ will negatively affect permissible copyrighted files but the FCC isn’t buying it. With 7,000 signatories, the EFF’s “petition to the FCC…asking for the provisions to be stripped from the final rule[,]” might be but a small sting compared to the coming swarm of trouble should Net neutrality get smashed by misguided Federal copyright-protection policies.

American Chronicle: Big business and politics are combining forces to create “a full-service portal for intellectual property information” in the Pacific Northwest. Tom Sowa has more:

Former Washington congressman Rick White and former Red Lion Hotels CEO Art Coffey have joined forces to launch a Web company, IP Street, with offices in Seattle and Spokane.

The information and analytics company aims to be a full-service portal for intellectual property information. It will make money by providing subscribers with focused summaries and analysis related to patents, intellectual property trends and research and development.

Its target audience includes investors, market analysts, inventors and company executives dealing with innovations.

The company is funded with venture capital and based on the the idea of creating “a better system to find IP information.” Better than what, though?

White and Coffey have raised $1.5 million in an early round of funding. A large share of that money came from Spokane investors, he noted.

The company’s first step, said White, would be to develop custom IP reports for market-leading companies in areas such as green energy, medical devices and information technology.

After those initial efforts the IP Street site will launch for public use.

Sounds like White and Coffey are a little bit late boarding a boat that left years ago, but best of luck, boys. We’ll have to see how long the initial round of startup capital lasts before IP Street has to start up the funding machine again. When is a bicycle not a bottle of wine? Always, unless you happen to be a trademark-happy bike company suing a winery for using the same name, which in this case would be ‘Trek.’ Mike Masnick unleashes his acerbic wit on the mistakes made by companies that don’t understand what protections their trademarks provide in his timely piece, You Can’t Turn Bicycles Into Wine: Trek Bicycle’s Trademark Lawsuit Against Trek Winery Dismissed.

We keep seeing cases where companies think that a trademark gives them a total monopoly over the trademark. That, of course, is not true. Not only is a trademark only supposed to be limited to cases of confusion or (in more recent construction) dilution, it’s also only supposed to be applied in areas of commerce that compete. In other words, it’s perfectly fine to use the same mark in totally different business areas. But, of course, some companies simply refuse to believe that (Monster Cable is famous for ignoring this, for example). But, thankfully, judges are quite aware of this. Brian points out that a judge has dismissed a trademark lawsuit brought by Trek Bicycle Corp. (makers of, you guessed it, bicycles) against a small northern California winery called Trek Winery. In this case, the lawsuit was dismissed for jurisdictional problems, in that the case was brought in Wisconsin (where the bicycle company is based), despite the vast majority of the winery’s business being in California.

Masnick also points out how a movie maker almost made the same mistake as Trek Bicycles but somehow managed to pull out before suffering a fatal case of trademark idiocy.

Bonus IP piece o’ the day: The Copyright Nazis: Destroying “Intellectual Property” Rights in Order to Save Them by Kevin Carson at the Center for a Stateless Society.