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9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

The Politicization Of The US Patent System

The Washington Post story, How patent reform’s fraught politics have left USPTO still without a boss (July 30), is a vivid account of how patent reform has divided the US economy, preempting a possible replacement for David Kappos who stepped down 18 months ago. The division is even bigger than portrayed. Universities have lined up en masse to oppose reform, while main street businesses that merely use technology argue for reform. Reminiscent of the partisan divide that has paralyzed US politics, this struggle crosses party lines and extends well beyond the usual inter-industry debates. Framed in terms of combating patent trolls through technical legal fixes, there lurks a broader economic concern – to what extent ordinary retailers, bank, restaurants, local banks, motels, realtors, and travel agents should bear the burden of defending against patents as a cost of doing business.


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    Technologies Of Dissent: A Primer From Yale A2K4 Conference

    Published on 22 February 2010 @ 11:55 am

    By , Intellectual Property Watch

    Leaps forward in technology can bring with them dramatic social changes; in particular the expansion of digital and social media has both democratised the power to record information and to be heard, but it has also simultaneously made it easier than ever before for public institutions to intrude upon private lives.

    Will the future of internet be as the protector of the surveillance state, making citizenry a prisoner of a panopticon? Or can it be used by the public to uphold rights, asked Anupam Chander, a professor of law at the University of California, Davis.

    Governments used to fear coffee houses as centres of media and social change, where self-published pamphlets became a counterpoint to mainstream media. Now the internet allows for the public to express dissatisfaction and dissent, and might spur political reform. But it can also be used by authorities to identify dissidents, said Chander.

    “What is our responsibility for using technologies of dissent [and] also using technology formats to create an infrastructure of free expression?” asked Laura DeNardis, the director of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.

    Technology can reflect arrangements of power in society, but it can also invert them. Former Republican Senator George Allen, for example, was a speculative US presidential candidate until he directed a racial slur at a competitor’s campaign worker. Which was recorded and posted on YouTube. The resulting public outcry cost him an election, but without the video and the place to spread it he might have been a presidential candidate, said DeNardis.

    “Human rights organisations need good, reliable information to keep governments accountable,” said Molly Beutz Land of New York Law School. New media allow the possibility for getting out this information, but also the risk that governments will use the technology to strike back, and the risk that the information has not been properly vetted and could be misinformation.

    “What can be done to undermine the future of surveillance and promote the future of discourse?” Chander asked.

    They were speaking at a panel at the fourth Access to Knowledge Conference, taking place at Yale Law School 12-13 February.

    Refusing Surveillance

    One thing that can be done is that western democracies have an “obligation to refuse surveillance,” and US companies should be forbidden from assisting China in spying on customers, said Chander.

    A Chinese non-governmental organisation employee, whose organisation he said ran websites fighting against discrimination of those with hepatitis B and HIV/AIDS that were censored by the government in the lead-up to the Beijing Olympic games, praised Google for its recent threat to leave China if the government continued to censor the internet and asked whether it was possible for more American internet companies to do the same.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently called on US media companies to “take a proactive role in challenging foreign governments’ demands for censorship and surveillance.”

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which supports and defends freedom in the digital world, has listed 7 “corporations of interest” who are violating this call by selling surveillance technology to the Chinese government, Katz said. These corporations include: Cisco, Nortel, Oracle, Motorola, EMC, Sybase and L-1 Identity Solutions. It has also launched a “Surveillance Self-Defense” project detailing what kinds of surveillance are currently legal in the United States and providing practical data for protecting private information.

    It is also important to think about what kind of ‘slippery slope’ certain uses of technology could lead to. Technologies of surveillance being currently used by the entertainment industry to find copyright infringers online. They probably won’t have to once they finally figure out a business model… but then that structure will be in place and easily used by dictators” Katz.

    The view from the global south, said Andrew Rens, an intellectual property fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, is that the surveillance to stop piracy through vehicles like the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is not that different from surveillance to stop unwelcome political views. “It’s just which kind of dissent you are cracking down on,” he said.

    Other issues to take into account are technical standards, anonymity, and open participation in both culture and technology development.

    Technical standards have a role to play in regulating behaviour, said DeNardis, as they can be designed to allow for free expression and interoperability or not.

    Anonymity is “key to preserving freedom of expression,” said Katz. The “war on terror framing sees anonymity as safe haven for terrorists,” he said, “but it is also the only way dissidents can talk.” Use of TOR, software which protects anonymity, is perhaps a good idea, he said. It also may have business applications, as a Vienna business explained to its customers that running it allows greater financial security, Katz said.

    Allowing for egalitarian research may also be relevant to these issues. At a separate panel, Eve Gray of the University of Cape Town said the editor of the Lancet journal had commented the international science journalism discourages the publication of African science, “so we get a narrow window about what constitutes research [and] what is worse is it’s a narrow window that disadvantages countries where research is needed.”

    “Today most scientific decisions are not taken by stakeholders, they are taken by shareholders,” said David Hammerstein of TransAtlantic Consumer Dialogue, during Gray’s panel. “If there is no equality in the relationships when deciding what to investigate and what to invest in, then we are lost.”

    Kaitlin Mara may be reached at kmara@ip-watch.ch.

     

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    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website. By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    We welcome your participation in article and blog comment threads, and other discussion forums, where we encourage you to analyse and react to the content available on the Intellectual Property Watch website.

    By participating in discussions or reader forums, or by submitting opinion pieces or comments to articles, blogs, reviews or multimedia features, you are consenting to these rules.

    1. You agree that you are fully responsible for the content that you post. You will not knowingly post content that violates the copyright, trademark, patent or other intellectual property right of any third party or which you know is under a confidentiality obligation preventing its publication and that you will request removal of the same should you discover that you have violated this provision. Likewise, you may not post content that is libelous, defamatory, obscene, abusive, that violates a third party's right to privacy, that otherwise violates any applicable local, state, national or international law, that amounts to spamming or that is otherwise inappropriate. You may not post content that degrades others on the basis of gender, race, class, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sexual preference, disability or other classification. Epithets and other language intended to intimidate or to incite violence are also prohibited. Furthermore, you may not impersonate others.

    2. You understand and agree that Intellectual Property Watch is not responsible for any content posted by you or third parties. You further understand that IP Watch does not monitor the content posted. Nevertheless, IP Watch may monitor the any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove, edit or otherwise alter content that it deems inappropriate for any reason whatever without consent nor notice. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on our site. IP Watch is not in any manner endorsing the content of the discussion forums and cannot and will not vouch for its reliability or otherwise accept liability for it.

    3. By submitting any contribution to IP Watch, you warrant that your contribution is your own original work and that you have the right to make it available to IP Watch for all purposes and you agree to indemnify IP Watch, its directors, employees and agents against all damages, legal fees and others expenses that may be incurred by IP Watch as a result of your breach of warranty or of these terms.

    4. You further agree not to publish any personal information about yourself or anyone else (for example telephone number or home address). If you add a comment to a blog, be aware that your email address will be apparent.

    5. IP Watch will not be liable for any loss including but not limited to the following (whether such losses are foreseen, known or otherwise): loss of data, loss of revenue or anticipated profit, loss of business, loss of opportunity, loss of goodwill or injury to reputation, losses suffered by third parties, any indirect, consequential or exemplary damages.

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    7. You acknowledge and agree that you use and/or rely on any information obtained through the discussion forums at your own risk.

    8. For any content that you post, you hereby grant to IP Watch the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, exclusive and fully sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part, world-wide and to incorporate it in other works, in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

    9. These terms and your posts and contributions shall be governed and interpreted in accordance with the laws of Switzerland (without giving effect to conflict of laws principles thereof) and any dispute exclusively settled by the Courts of the Canton of Geneva.

     

     
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