Tech law GEEK


Gates on IP, Outsourcing

Reuters reports on Bill Gates' criticism of current H1-B visa caps preventing skilled workers from entering the country.
"The whole idea of the H-1B visa thing is, don't let too many smart people come into the country. The whole thing doesn't make sense"

As Patrick Ross notes, weak IP protection in other countries may be a significant reason why MSFT would rather import its workers than send their development work offshore. AP/Yahoo also reports on U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier's annual report on copyright theft, released today, naming 14 countries on its "priority watch list." China, by far the worst in enforcing U.S. copyrights, is also joined by Argentina, Brazil, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Turkey and Venezuela.

On MSFT's Shared Source Licensing Programs site, you'll also see how its licensing programs are broken out presumably based on the IP enforcement regimes within each participant's country.
To determine the geographic markets in which source code can be made available under these various source-licensing programs, Microsoft reviewed national laws, practices, enforcement policies and attitudes toward intellectual-property protection. The absence of a geographic market on an "approved" list does not bar all source licensing in that geographic market, but it does prohibit the standard, broad-based Shared Source program from being offered to customers within that geographic market

American tech workers may see things a bit differently:
Undersecretary of Commerce Phil Bond, a top Bush administration technology official, pointed out that the unemployment rate for engineers is above the national average

Yes, that's right. We have high unemployment amongst American engineers yet we can't seem to import enough foreign workers.

[UPDATE] Dell, emphasis on hardware, announces it will add another 2,000 to its Indian workforce[/UPDATE]

A group likely to garner less sympathy are members of the legal profession who rely on case summaries and other database information from services like LexisNexis. As one Indian tech site reports:
The opportunity for offshore services in the legal publishing field is enormous largely because all judgements in the US are available on the Internet on the concerned court’s website***

Looking at India’s cost advantages, firms such as LexisNexis are outsourcing their content management needs to Indian firms.

How long before clients catch on to the fact that online legal research is supported by offshore resources that hardly charge the hourly rates many lawyers dream of collecting? As Information week reported previously:
According to a recent study by researchers at the University of California at Berkeley, legal assistants and paralegals working in India on behalf of U.S. law firms earn, on average, between $6 and $8 per hour. That's about one-third of what their counterparts in the United States are paid.

Could this be what Tom DeLay finds "incredibly outrageous"?

[UPDATE] This post featured in Blawg Review #4, hosted by Law & Entrepreneurship News. Take a look at what else they have!

More on legal outsourcing recently mentioned at Legal Blog Watch[/UPDATE]

Rate this post:
(data provided from NewsGator Online)


If you know you want to be a patent attorney...

Dennis Crouch has some useful information and comments at the Patently-O blawg
Engineers and scientists usually do pretty well on the LSAT and often end up with the following law school options:

  • Attend a highly-ranked law school;
  • Attend a lower-ranked law school with a renown intellectual property program; or
  • Attend a lower-ranked law school as a night student and continue making money during the day.

  • I opted for a combination of 2 and 3. Not only does the University of Houston have outstanding IP JD & LLM programs (ranked 4th by USN&WR, in case you missed it), but you can usually expect to have at least 1 or 2 courses offered in the evening during the fall & spring. At least one of our profs doesn't recommend ALL IP courses while in law school, however. If you KNOW you will be practicing IP afterwards, try to round yourself out with other topics you may have interest in - it may be the best (or only) chance you'll get!

    Good luck!

    [UPDATE] Something else to consider before taking the patent bar.

    Why student membership in related professional organizations is a great idea, too.

    2007 Rankings update available here[/UPDATE]

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)


    Dutch Law Grad Gains Infamy With E-Mail

    Since distance education is high on my priority list, this particular story caught my eye, not so much because the misdirected email was forwarded along, but because of the continuing implicit assumption that similar oral communications do not occur and are not also similarly relayed-- worse yet, inaccurately.

    AP via Yahoo reporting on what might be an innocuous email faux pas by American standards.
    Reinder Eekhof, a freshly minted lawyer, recently wrote in an e-mail that he had "finally finished this stupid education," and was "now looking for someone crazy enough to dump a suitcase full of money in my lap every month." ***

    Eekhof mistyped the address and his missive landed in the inbox of someone in the communications department instead.

    That person forwarded it, and soon the e-mail was being read at law firms across the Netherlands.

    One need not look far in the blogosphere to find rants from law students all over the country, some more courageous than others in actually identifying themselves. With so much of our communication digitized and relayed in one form or another over common networks, how much of what we say and do can be conveniently hidden any more? The student's comments don't sound much different from what I would expect to hear through the grapevine, anyway, so why would anyone be surprised to see it in writing? Perhaps it goes to the root of the public's perception of lawyer's honesty and ethics - don't put anything in writing you might want to deny later.

    A George Will quote one of our law profs likes to include with his signature:
    He thought he was speaking in a place that encourages uncircumscribed intellectual explorations. He was not. He was on a university campus.

    As a proponent of distance education, one of the biggest hurdles I see, particularly in the law school setting, is promoting the "uncircumscribed intellectual exploration" on very difficult topics, e.g., freedom of religion, in a digital environment where the recording is implied. Who's going to play devil's advocate and make the provocative statements or pose the provocative questions to get students to exercise their analytical skills when the entire exchange is recorded verbatim for posterity to review? Will anyone who reads the exchange out of context recognize it for what it is? How can we encourage students to engage in these kinds of conversations in an environment that is supposed to foster and develop critical thinking skills when the threat of future retribution looms in stories like the one above? If a child is blogging now for the whole world to see, should his parents be concerned that those posts might be used against him 5, 10, or 20 years from now when he embarks on a new career? Should we think any better of those who post anonymously?

    In the context of non-privileged communications, which is more important: knowing the truth or being able to hide it?

    While you're mulling that over, take a look at

    [UPDATE] Wired story: Next Gen Weighs a 'Secure' Future

    This post featured in Blawg Review #3

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)

    Microsoft's Virtual Machine Licensing FAQ's

    Virtual PC has been around for several years, mostly for Mac users to emulate Windows, but after Microsoft bought Connectix ~2 years ago, more emphasis has been placed on using the VPC to emulate other operating systems on a Windows host. MSDN subscriptions have also included VPC and it has been a huge timesaver. Now Ballmer's announcement confirms that Microsoft recognizes virtualization as an alternative to OS lock-in and:
    They're not going to turn their backs on customers just because they don't like Linux

    --Yankee Group's Laura DiDio

    EMC's VMWare

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)

    Tridgell speaks re BitKeeper dispute

    ZDNet Australia reports on Tridgell's keynote presentation at 2005 in Canberra:
    Tridgell particularly sought to reject claims that he had somehow violated the proprietary BitKeeper code by reverse-engineering its metadata formats for use in an open source client, thus leading BitKeeper to revoke the Linux development community's licence.

    To cheers from the 500-strong audience, Tridgell demonstrated how information available from BitKeeper's own online help made gaining access to that information a trivial task.

    "We have now, in a single line of shell, implemented a BitKeeper client," he said.

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)


    Research on the Internet? Outrageous?

    AP via Yahoo reporting on DeLay's comments re Justice Kennedy's research habits...
    "We've got Justice Kennedy writing decisions based upon international law, not the Constitution of the United States? That's just outrageous," DeLay told Fox News Radio. "And not only that, but he said in session that he does his own research on the Internet? That is just incredibly outrageous."

    Some of my law professors have alluded to a generation gap regarding familiarity with computers and technology, but I must say I am relieved they do not find internet research "outrageous" ... what with WestLaw and LexisNexis and even the SCOTUS online...

    See also

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)

    Framing the discussion: Linux vs. Microsoft

    by ZDNet's Joe Brockmeier --
    Microsoft seems to realize that many people take its sponsored studies with a grain of salt. So, why would the folks in Redmond -- or any other vendor, for that matter -- go to the trouble to finance a study that they know will be dismissed as biased? Microsoft knows [...]

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)


    Torvalds on the Bitkeeper row

    Linus Torvalds, Linux creator/coordinator, defends his position on dropping BitKeeper due to an alleged violation of the licensing terms by Andrew Tridgell
    He didn't create something new and impressive. He just
    tore down something new (and impressive) because he could,
    and rather than helping others, he screwed people over.
    And you expect me to _respect_ that kind of behaviour?***

    what I find sad is how some people are
    so _gleeful_ about a commercial program becoming less
    useful, only because it was commerical.

    If [BitKeeper] was a crappy tool, I'd at least understand the glee.
    But in this case it was the commercial people who did the
    impressive technology and pushed technology forward. And
    I'm just honest enough to be able to say that.

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)


    MSFT settles with GTW on antitrust claims

    AP/Yahoo reports
    Microsoft Corp. will pay computer maker Gateway Inc. $150 million over four years to end a long-running legal dispute, and Gateway says it will use the money to market and develop products that run Microsoft software. ***
    Over the past two years, Microsoft has spent some $3 billion to settle private antitrust lawsuits filed by Time Warner Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc., Be Inc. and Novell Inc. It also paid an undisclosed amount to a trade group that had backed antitrust complaints by the U.S. government and the European Union.

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)


    The Long-Term View from LinuxInsider

    LinuxInsider commentary from Michael Lee on the benefits of software patentability.
    Patents promote innovation. Patents give software companies more incentive to invest in R&D because they allow those companies to protect their inventions. Without patents, a company cannot effectively prevent competitors from incorporating its software inventions into competing products...

    It's not that software patents are good, and open-source is bad, or vice versa. Instead, companies should have the right to elect one or the other. Prohibiting software patents means that companies cannot protect their inventions, and thus effectively forces everyone to open-source their software. The open-source leaders' position against software patents seems antithetical to their philosophy of freedom.

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)

    Brussels discovers perils of regulating software giant's operating system

    if you believe a software company has broken competition law, be prepared to rewrite its products yourself

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)


    USN&WR Law School Rankings

    The 2006 Grad School rankings are out, and the University of Houston Law Center continues to be near the top in the specialty areas of Intellectual Property (4th) and Health Law (2nd)! Bravo!

    [UPDATE] My take on the 2007 rankings [/UPDATE]

    Rate this post:
    (data provided from NewsGator Online)