Can a new crowdsourcing venture help in improve the state of the U.S. patent process?

This looks like an interesting addition to the patent review process. Ultimately, I am skeptical that it will make a significant impact on the process, bit it certainly cannot hurt and may even help!

Gigaom

A new partnership between the US government and a popular Q&A site may help rid the country of the low quality patents that have produced an endless series of lawsuits that threaten to stunt parts of the technology sector.

Starting today, the website Stack Exchange will run a channel devoted to patents on which the public can help scrutinize pending application. The move serves to crowdsource the arduous task of examining patents, permitting the general public to submit information that will help the patent office decide whether or not something is a new and useful invention.

It works like this. Once a patent examination is made public, anyone can submit it to Stack Exchange and launch a discussion. Others can then offer “prior art” that they believe is relevant to determining whether the patent should be granted. The collection of prior art is then sent on to an examiner at the…

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Amazon and the Non-Level Retail Playing Field – Richard Harris – Voices – AllThingsD

Amazon and the Non-Level Retail Playing Field – Richard Harris – Voices – AllThingsD.

This is an interesting opinion piece regarding why Amazon has such significant competitive advantage over traditional retailers.

It comes down to several related issues, but can be boiled down to the fact that Amazon, in addition to its economies of scale, has multiple revenue streams. It has revenue from its computing services. It has revenue from ad sales.

These additional revenue streams are something that Amazon’s competitors are starting to sit up an notice. Walmart, for one, is signaling its intent to become an “experience platform” much in the vein of Amazon, where brands not only sell to customers but also market to them.

Marketing Meets Big Data

This is a nice overview of the evolution of the role of marketing in social media era. Increasingly, Big Data will play a role in effective strategies and understanding the marketplace. This may not be new, but it is certainly an accelerating trend.

Gigaom

Depending on what research you believe, chief marketing officers are either more powerful than they’ve ever been — or they’re on their way out.

Early this year,a Gartner(s it) analyst predicted that CMOs will have bigger IT budget power than CIOs by 2017. Naturally, that analysis was quickly bandied about by CMOs.

But last week, in a blog post unambiguously titled “Marketing is Dead,” Bill Lee wrote that CMOs, as a species, are under fire.

Lee, president of the Lee Consulting Group which focuses on “customer engagement,” cited data from a 2011 Fournaise Marketing Group study suggesting that CEOs don’t see ROI on marketing efforts and are sick of being asked for marketing money with no discernible payoff. On top of that,  Lee posits that shoppers don’t pay attention to traditional marketing anymore. Ouch.

Cloud and big data reshape the marketing role

Underlying this seeming contradiction is that marketing is…

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Patent trolls and horse-powered boats: 8 highlights from Stanford’s IP powwow — Tech News and Analysis

Patent trolls and horse-powered boats: 8 highlights from Stanford’s IP powwow — Tech News and Analysis.

Stanford has just wrapped up a conference on Intellectual Property that seems to have had some very interesting and notable highlights. Head over to the GigaOm article for a bit more detail (and here for the full agenda), but here are a few of the highlights of interest:

  • University of Colorado Professor Paul Ohm is headed off to join the FTC, but he stopped by the conference and gave a presentation that made it clear that he intends to do more than a but of arm-twisting in Washington to get companies to live up to their privacy promises.
  • Another presentation discussed unauthorized distribution of copyrighted content though the lens of the porn industries current frustrations. It looks like maybe Big Porn is starting to realize that the litigation tactic is a loosing battle, as they begin to experiment with shifts towards making “experience goods” like live chats and other engagement oriented products.
  • Collen Chien of U.C. Santa Clara presented on the current patent mess in the mobile device industry and hos the historic patent epidemics over farmer’s tools and railroad technology in the late 19th and early 20th centuries may portend much needed reform in our current patent morass.
  • Professor Howard Abrams discusses the U.S. Supreme Court of Golan v. Holder from earlier this year in which the Court upheld Congress’ rights to retroactively extend copyright terms. The case when on to indicate that congress can extend copyright protection to previously public domain works and to state that First Amendment is not implicated by these actions, as these works were available in the marketplace and thus represented commercial speech.

Post navigation ← Older posts Facebook And FTC Settle Privacy Charges — No Fine, But 20 Years Of Privacy Audits

While I am not sure the FTC went quite far enough (mandatory audits but no fines seems a bit toothless), it is at least a clear message that the FTC is getting increasingly serious about enforcing privacy regulations.
The short lesson to businesses online: “Do what you say you are going to do, when it comes to privacy policies!”

TechCrunch

Facebook and the FTC today finalized their earlier announced settlement over charges that Facebook had “deceived” its customers by “telling them they could keep their information on Facebook private, and then repeatedly allowing it to be shared and made public.” Unlike this week’s earlier $22.5 million FTC settlement with Google, Facebook does not face any financial penalties because the FTC does not have the authority to levy fines when it enters an initial agreement like this one (it can only impose fines when companies violate the agreement). Instead, the company will have to promise that it will give its users “clear and prominent notice” and get their consent before sharing their information beyond their privacy settings. In addition, Facebook will have to submit itself to biennial privacy audits for the next 20 years and maintain a “comprehensive privacy program.”

The FTC launched its investigation into Facebook’s privacy practices in 2011 and…

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Data Breach costly to Global Payments, to the tune of $84M | ajc.com

Breach costly to Global Payments  | ajc.com.

Another costly reminder of the liability that can stem from data breaches: Atlanta-based Global Payments suffered a breach in which 1.5 million account records were exposed i a hack attack.

Global Payments now reports that just the cost to fix the data breach has reached $85 Million, so far, resulting in a 91% drop in quarterly net income when compared to last year. This does not account for the damage to Global Payments’ reputation. Both Visa and Mastercard dropped Global Paymeents from their compliance lists after the revaluation of the data loss.

According to the Atlanta Jounral Constitution, last month, Global also warned that hackers also might have accessed the personal information of an unknown number of merchants who’d applied with Global for payment processing services.

Interviewedby the AJC, Adam Levin, an identity theft expert and chairman of Credit.com, said the Global breach is another wakeup call that governments and companies may not be doing enough and that consumers must protect themselves. His conclusion: “Companies have got to be more proactive,” he said. “Even the ones that are really good [at security] are finding that the bad guys still find a way to beat them.”

How Apple’s phantom taxes hide billions in profit | ajc.com

How Apple’s phantom taxes hide billions in profit  | ajc.com.

“On Tuesday, Apple is set to report financial results for the second quarter. Analysts are expecting net income of $9.8 billion. But whatever figure Apple reports won’t reflect its true profit, because the company hides some of it with an unusual tax maneuver.

 

Apple Inc., already the world’s most valuable company, understates its profits compared with other multinationals. It’s building up an overlooked asset in the form of billions of dollars, tucked away for tax bills it may never pay.

 

Tax experts say the company could easily eliminate these phantom tax obligations. That would boost Apple’s profits for the past three years by as much $10.5 billion, according to calculations by The Associated Press.”

 

Again the age-old line between making clever use of existing tax laws and tax evasions, at least on the surface, appears vanishingly thin. Of course, it’s generally easier to avoid millions in taxes than it is thousands. Regardless of the somewhat distasteful appearance of such maneuvering, it points up the fact that competent counsel on the tax front can be a tremendous asset to business, as legitimate opportunities for real savings exist. The lesson being, having (and regularly consulting with) a good accountant is one of the most important things a business can do.