Its raining … rain.

It raining on Saturn.  Since scientists first saw three dark bands on Saturn during the 1980’s flyby of Voyager, there was a theory that the bands were caused by rain.

The bands were not seen again until April 2011, when new observations of Saturn in the near-infrared wavelengths using the W.M Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, in Hawaii.

The rain’s effect occurs in Saturn’s ionosphere, where charged particles are produced.  The “rain” of charged water particles falls into Saturn’s atmosphere creating the dark bands.  It turns out that the rings of Saturn, some 36,000 miles overhead, are to blame for the rain.  Because the rings block solar radiation, the water particles become charged and fall back to Saturn.

Well, at least it isn’t raining men…hallelujah.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

What’s in name? – part 2

Cable company or not? ivi, Inc. (pronounced ivy) based out of Seattle has been offering software that provides live video streaming over the Internet for a flat rate. ivi claims to be the first online cable company offering live television on the Internet.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently affirmed a preliminary injunction against ivi, Inc., ruling that its service likely infringes the copyrights of major broadcasters like NBC, ABC, and FOX, which had filed suit to keep the new technology offline.

While ivi’s service is certainly groundbreaking, it came up against a significant roadblock—the U.S. Copyright Act. The appeals court rejected the company’s argument that is a “cable system” under § 111 of the Copyright Act. This provision allows cable systems to publicly perform and retransmit signals of copyrighted television programming to its subscribers under a compulsory license.

The Second Circuit acknowledged that the statutory text of the Copyright Act is unclear as to whether a service that retransmits television programming live and over the Internet constitutes a cable system. However, it ultimately concluded that Congress did not intend for § 111’s compulsory license to extend to Internet transmissions. It pointed specifically to the legislative history, noting that if Congress had intended to extend § 111’s compulsory license to Internet retransmissions, it would have done so expressly.

The appeals court also agreed that ivi’s Internet streaming service would cause irreparable harm to broadcasters.

ivi, has appealed to the Supreme Court to decide its fate. If the Supreme’s decide that the name fits, ivi will be back in business and broadcasters will need to figure out how to monetize this before their programming is further diminished. I will keep you posted.

How can I Help

If you have a copyright issue or need help to file a copyright, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I am Awesome, epically awesome.

http://alienshores52.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/wpid-photo-15042013-654-pm.jpg

Thanks to my fellow blogger over at Alien Shores, I have been nominated for the Epically Awesome Award of Epic Awesomeness!  But no great award comes without responsibilities.  In order to be really awesome I have to: 1) Write ten “awesome” facts about yourself; 2). Nominate ten other bloggers that you think are awesome enough to win this award; and 3)Inform the chosen they have won.  Naturally, being awesome, most of these tasks were easy.

The hard part came when I had to choose ten other bloggers.  Only ten!  I follow a lot of you so it was hard to whittle it down to ten.  Please don’t feel bad if I didn’t nominate you, I still think you are all awesome!  Maybe if I contact the rule committee I can bend the rules a little…hmmmm.  Anyway on to the lists:

Ten “awesome” facts about me

1.  I am a hard worker (thanks mom and dad).

2. I try to help others whenever possible without asking for anything in return.

3. I love to do astronomy outreach and show the wonders of the night to everyone.

4. I just finished my first semester as an adjunct professor teaching patent prosecution at a local law school, where 2 of my 7 students found employment using what I taught them (the others have to graduate first).

5. I am a computer wiz (yes, I can program your DVR also).

6. I can find something new to marvel at every day.

7. Despite what my friend say, I am a great driver, 1 accident in 50 years (not my fault, I was rear ended).

8. I am a loyal and dependable friend.

9. I don’t give up (thanks to my time in the USN).

10. I am stubborn (yes, this is awesome when you look at numbers 8 and 9).

My 10 nominees:

1.  Martha Bernie, a co-worker and a great cook.  She goes out of her way to make people feel special.

2. Laura Lloyd, a colleague.  Dr. Lloyd (Phd) is smart and tenacious and her two daughters are gems.

3.  David Renke, some really great stuff and inspirational ideas.

4.  Republic Of Lagrangia, sometimes controversial, but always thought provoking.

5. Dustin Cole, he has helped my professional life immensely.

6. John A. Jaksich, the silent astronomer speaks volumes.

7. Hack A Day, OMG, the most fun for evil geniuses everywhere!

8.  J. C. Conway, talented SciFi author and veteran (a great combo).

9. One tough lady, 66 years old and fighting the good fight. Inspirational and poetic.

10. Philosophy ala carte, always a good read.

I tried my best to hit some of all the blogs I follow.  Science, art, crafts…food (you are all going to make me fat again!).  There are so many, and picking just 10 was really hard.  I think it finally came down to personal bias (doesn’t it always), but I want everyone who has read my blog, or anyone else’s, or who write their own.  You are a 10 in my book.  Blogging isn’t easy, but once you start it is very addictive.  This blog has helped me find both a personal and professional voice.

I would like to thank all of you, because you are all AWESOME! But just in case you can always check out the awesome blog!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

 

 

 

The red shoe diaries.

Christian Louboutin is fairly famous for making and marketing his exotic shoes with the red soles.  So famous in fact that the Second Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the distinctive red soles of Christian Louboutin shoes are entitled to trademark protection.

However, only if the rest of the shoe is not red.

(The offending red shoe)

The lawsuit was filed to prevent rival French designer Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) from selling shoes that featured a monochrome red shoe with a red sole. After negotiations between the two designers failed, Louboutin filed a trademark infringement lawsuit.

The appellate court concluded that Louboutin’s trademark, consisting of a red, lacquered outsole on a high fashion woman’s shoe, has acquired limited “secondary meaning” as a distinctive symbol that identifies the Louboutin brand.

The decision reverses a lower court ruling that a single color can never serve as a trademark in the fashion industry.

The court did, however, instruct the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to limit the trademark to uses in which the red outsole contrasts with the color of the rest of the shoe. “It is the contrast between the sole and the upper that causes the sole to ‘pop,’ and to distinguish its creator,” the opinion states. I heartens me to know that the justices understand the word “pop” in a fashion context.  Actually, I am sure that the women on the court educated the male members of the judiciary on the word “pop.”

Under the modified trademark, YSL’s shoes do not infringe. As a result, both designers walked away from this case with a victory.

Now about those blue suede shoes….

How I Help

If you have a distinctive brand that you need help to protect, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

NOT going out with a bang!

There are a huge variety of planetary nebula (although I am told the proper term is stellar-remnant nebula).

Like the ring nebula in Lyra.

The Cat’s Eye nebula in Draco.

And many others.

These lovely denizens of deep space once foretold how our little sun would one day end up…well maybe not.

Astronomers now think that most planetary nebula only happen in binary star systems (like Tatooine).  Most star systems that we have researched are binary systems, some even have more suns, but most are binary.  The new calculations have called into question the long held theory that planetary nebula came from single stars with low to intermediate mass.

The newest study has determined that in order to solve problems with single star planetary nebula formation that most planetary nebulae are shaped via interaction with a binary companion.

So it seems that there won’t be any neat aftermath when Sol finally runs out of fuel and goes bang!  It just seems likely now that all that may be left is a white dwarf and a bunch of dust.

Now I feel like we are in the cosmic boonies.  Well, I guess that is what we get for living near a small, low mass, single star on the fringes of the galaxy.  Just our luck.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

 

Texting your way to a patent.

Filing your patent application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office just became a little easier. The PTO is instituting a new program called Text2PTO, which will enable the USPTO to receive patent applications as text files.

The program should make it considerably easier to file and amend documents submitted electronically to the USPTO. Under the current system, all documents must be converted into a PDF document prior to submission.


Past Director of the USPTO, David Kappos outlined the anticipated benefits, which include increasing the accuracy and integrity of the application file, eliminating the need for applicants to create three separate PDF documents for abstract, claims, and specification, and the availability of new USPTO analytical reporting tools, which will allow some formalities checks as well as access to information related to patent families, continuity, claim dependencies and other application content.


The agency also expects the new program to reduce its workload and costs as well.  According to the USPTO, it plans to pass these savings on to applicants through filing fee discounts for applications submitted through Text2PTO.

The program is currently under development so stay tuned for more updates when they happen.

How I Help

If you have an invention that you need help to patent, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Woodrow Wilson has blown up!

The supernova UDS10Wil, nicknamed SN Wilson after American President Woodrow Wilson, that is.

http://www.nasa.gov/images/content/739215main_IMAGE1-%20p1311aw.jpg

The star exploded more than 10 billion years ago and was recently spotted by the Hubble Space Telescope.  Wilson, also has the distinction of being the farthest supernova of this type found to date.

Although our sun will blow up in a few billion years, it won’t turn into anything cool, like a black hole, but it will leave behind some pretty remnants in the form of a planetary nebula.

I am personally not too worried about it, because by that time I will have found a home on another suitable planet.  Did I mention that I intend to live forever?  Unless of course the Friday doughnuts do me in before I achieve permanence.  Actually, come to think about it, I probably prefer the doughnuts to immortality (but I would like to stay around long enough to own a space station).

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

What is a legal hold and how do you get out of it?

No, it isn’t a wrestling hold, like the sleeper,

(sorry, it was the only image with the proper license I could find), but it is something that you need to take very seriously.

For instance, the blockbuster jury award issued in the ongoing patent litigation between Apple and Samsung certainly caught everyone’s attention.  The jury concluded that Samsung infringed on several Apple patents and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.

One important lesson you should learn from this case is the importance of a litigation hold and the consequences of failing to uphold your obligations.

Whenever a person or company is involved in litigation or has notice that it is likely to be involved in litigation the law imposes an obligation—called a “legal hold”—to preserve evidence that might be relevant for use at an eventual trial or during the discovery phase of the case.

The evidence that needs to be preserved includes any kind of physical evidence, such as documents, electronic data, physical objects, drawings, contracts, manuals, photographs, samples, prototypes, and any other documents or things that could relate to the case would be potentially relevant. It is important to recognize that electronic data is included in the “legal hold.” This includes email communications and all other electronic data that might be relevant.  

If you fail to hold onto the evidence, the judge can order that an “adverse inference” be made against you.   For example, a jury could be instructed that because you failed to preserve evidence the jury could infer that the evidence would help prove the other side of the case.

This is what happened to Samsung. While it may not have directly impacted the verdict, it certainly did not help their case either.

Other companies have had this happen to them when they neglected to disable an automatic deletion program of emails after a specific period of time.  Even though nobody sorted through the emails before they were automatically deleted, the judge ordered that the absence of the emails could be used by the opposing party (ouch!), even if there were no emails that actually had any negative information or evidence.  The party that failed to preserve the emails would have an adverse inference taken against it anyway.

Here is your take-away: if you are involved in a lawsuit you have a legal obligation to take all reasonably necessary steps to preserve potential evidence, including emails, for as long as the lawsuit might last.  This obligation begins before the lawsuit is filed! (i.e., as soon as you might be reasonable noticed that a lawsuit is likely). 

ANYONE in the company that has potentially relevant evidence is subject to this “legal hold.” The company has the obligation to advise all relevant employees to preserve emails and other evidence, and to monitor compliance to make sure that they follow through with the “legal hold.”

How I Can Help

If your company, or someone you know, has recieved notice of a patent lawsuit filed against you, I can help you defend yourself.   Please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman

What’s in a name?

If you are a member of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), alot. With the large amounts of exoplanets being discovered a subtle, but important issue has arrisen. What do we call all those planets?

Right now there is the “official” name (something boring like 51 Pegasi b, or PSR B1620-26 c) and then there is the rest of the world. Some have suggested that the IAU is trying to claim naming right to the whole Universe, other say that they are simply trying to claim the whole Universe.

I don’t think either of those are the case, but I do believe that the IAU needs to be overhauled. I mean they still can’t tell me what a planet is, this of course goes back to my arguement that Pluto is a planet (go New Horizons!). But that is only one example of how out of touch the IAU seems to be with the rest of the world.

We regularly have scientists that are members of the IAU or others that attend the meetings speak at our astronomical societies meetings (always open to the public!). After speaking with many of them, I have discovered that most of them have seen some of the pictures from Hubble, but don’t actually go out and observe the night sky in all its splendor. It is a shame, but most of them are crunching numbers and actually only know the Universe that way.

Perhaps it is time that the scientists came out of the lab and met with the rest of the Universe, up close and personal. Perhaps even talking to a few non-scientists (I find children under the age of 12 extremely insightful) and see if that can’t expand there horizons.

So if you are like Uwingu and want to run a harmless contest to name some of the exo-planets, watch out the IAU will be issuing nasty retorts your way.

At least NASA gets it, after all they named the 5th moon around Pluto Vulcan after a twitter bomb by Shatner and Nimoy. Heck, even Colbert got a treadmill named after him on the ISS. Come on IAU, get with the program…engage the public…don’t push them away.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +. If you need help with any patent, trademark, or copyright issue, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

Norman

Trolls in the majority of cases.

At least 56 percent of all patent lawsuits are started by patent trolls, according to a new, comprehensive report by Lex Machina.

According to Colleen Chien of Santa Clara University, 61% of patent lawsuits in the U.S. in 2012 were brought by patent trolls.  The following graph from a recent presentation by Ms Chien shows an alarming trend.
Usually, patent lawsuits are between large companies such as the Oracle vs. Google and Apple vs. Samsung cases that I have reported on in this blog.
According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a “patent troll uses patents as legal weapons, instead of actually creating any new products or coming up with new ideas.”  In many cases the nonpracticing entity (NPE), or patent troll, purchases patents that are unused or patents where their owners are not financially able to bring suit for infringement.  Then, the NPE demands a licensing fee from other companies using something that “may” infringe a patent in their portfolio.  Most of the time, the cost for licensing the patent from the NPE is far less than the cost of a patent lawsuit.  A cash cow is born.

According to Lex Machina:

“Cases filed by monetizers [i.e. trolls] rarely proceed to trial, usually settling early in the case. 75 percent of terminated cases filed by monetizers ended in a settlement, as did 72 percent of terminated cases filed by operating companies. Less than 1 percent of monetizer cases were decided at or after trial, and less than 2 percent of monetizer cases were decided on summary judgment. Of the summary judgment cases, the authors did not find a single decision in which the monetizer prevailed. Of the trial determinations, monetizers won half of the time, though this represented only 0.3 percent of all terminated monetizer cases.”

How I Can Help

If your company, or someone you know, has recieved notice of a patent lawsuit filed against you, I can help you defend yourself from unwarranted legal action.   Please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman