Here's something fun for a day off: videos of some of the talks and panel discussions at the
2005 UNC Symposium on Intellectual Property, Creativity
and the Innovation Process. It was a gathering to discuss "how technological advances affect copyright and how creativity and innovation foster social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth." You can see Cory Doctorow talking about DRM. Fun, totally. He's a great speaker. That's the high speed version. There is a low speed link, if you are on dialup. Lots of other goodies too.
There is also a panel discussion, which includes John Whealan, Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property Law and Solicitor and Marybeth Peters, United States Register of Copyrights. If you are inclined to demonize people based on where they work, do take a look. You'll find Peters saying that the current length of the US Copyright Law is too long. Surprised? There is also a speech by one of the authors of the comic book I enjoyed so much, "Bound by Law," James Boyle, wearing his law professor hat, although at a humorous tilt.
He makes reference to a EU study on copyright protection of databases -- the EU has had that for about 10 years, as opposed to the UK, which does not -- that showed the protection did not grow the database industry. In fact, it shrank. In the UK, meanwhile, it grew. Here is the study and here's a link to a discussion of the study, with a funny quote from Boyle on the reaction to the study.
If you enjoy the videos, here's who to thank: the University of North Carolina, iBiblio, and more than anyone Matthew Szulik, CEO of Red Hat, who really was the force that made this conference happen. Here are his opening remarks. There are more videos there as well, but I haven't seen them myself yet. Currently it's available only in RealMedia, but they're working on it, I understand, to broaden your choices. I attended the conference, by the way, and had a blast, but there were different discussions going on simultaneously, so some of this is new to me too. I expanded my concept of Groklaw because of that conference, actually. Had some great barbecue too. If you are ever invited to anything Red Hat, iBiblio or the University of North Carolina is planning, my advice is, Go.
UPDATE: If you'd like an overview, Andy Oram wrote about the conference, which he also attended, back in November when it happened. I have just learned that the video marked Koleman Strumpf is actually a panel discussion he moderated on P2P, with Cory, Robert Kaye of MusicBrainz, Gene Hoffman who started eMusic, John Buckman of Magnatunes, and Chris DiBona of Google, among many others contributing to a lively discussion.
UPDATE 2: USPTO News You will note in News Picks an item regarding Whealan, who is part of the USPTO road show, currently explaining at meetings around the country proposed rule changes for claims and continuations. There is also now an email provided by the USPTO for the public to send in ideas. Here's the notice:
Public Input Sought for New USPTO Strategic Plan
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is seeking comments and suggestions from the public to assist the agency in developing a new strategic plan. The plan will guide the USPTO’s operations from 2007-2012. An e-mail box, StrategicPlanning1@uspto.gov, has been established for the public’s use in submitting suggestions, ideas and comments that the agency should consider in developing the new plan.
The USPTO’s current 21st Century Strategic Plan, developed in 2002, can be viewed at The 21st Century Strategic Plan - Revised [PDF viewer - 295 KB].
We look forward to hearing your suggestions. Thank you for your attention and input.
To give you a taste of *their* vision, here is a sample section:
Global Development: Streamline intellectual property systems and strengthen intellectual property rights around the world
- Promote harmonization in the framework of the World Intellectual Property Organization and its Standing Committee on the Law of Patents; resolve major issues in a broader context and pursue substantive harmonization goals that will strengthen the rights of American intellectual property holders by making it easier to obtain international protection for their inventions and creations. [Global Development 1]
- Negotiate bilateral and multilateral agreements to facilitate global convergence of patent standards. [Global Development 2]
- Accelerate Patent Cooperation Treaty reform efforts, focusing on the USPTO’s proposal for simplified processing. [Global Development 3]
- Develop a “universal” trademark electronic application by leveraging the United States’ experience with electronic filing of trademark applications. [Global Development 4]
I thought those of you in Europe would like to know the plan. If you have any ideas for them, present them politely, please, so they will be able to hear you.
Here's a less tooth-grinding section:
Quality will be assured throughout the process by hiring the people who make the best patent and trademark examiners, certifying their knowledge and competencies throughout their careers at the USPTO, and focusing on quality throughout the examination of patent and trademark applications. By bolstering confidence in the quality of U.S. patents and trademarks, the USPTO will enhance the reliability in the quality of products and services needed to increasingly spur our economy and reduce litigation costs. ...
Make improvements in patent and trademark quality assurance techniques
- Enhance the current quality assurance programs by integrating reviews to cover all stages of examination. [Quality 1]
- Expand reviews of primary examiner work. [Quality 2]
- Engineer quality into our processing including the selective expansion of the “second pair of eyes” review3 of work products in such advanced fields of technology as semiconductors, telecommunications, and biotechnology. [Quality 3 and 4]
- Incorporate an evaluation of search quality into the patent work product review process, and survey practitioners on specific applications. [Quality 5 and 6]
- Enhance the reviewable record of prosecution in patent applications. [Quality 7]
- Certify and monitor the quality of searching authorities to ensure that patent searches provided by the private sector contractors or other patent offices are complete and of the highest quality. [Quality 8]
They are at least aware that there is a connection between the stupid patents they've been issuing and litigation costs dragging the enterprise down. Think Blackberry.