02 February 2005

News Roundup

  • In an entirely unsurprising development, phishers are now actively seeking to invoke magic. Wizardry. Hogwarts. And bank account and credit card numbers. Overanxious fans were "offered" an e-book of HP6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince), possibly by organized crime. Of course, any criminals need not be that organized; HP rumors and dubious "tips" seem more popular than tulip bulbs.
  • A number of open-source advocates, including Linux icon Linus Torvalds, have spoken out against software patents. The real problem here, though, is the treatment of patents as a single category with common characteristics, reminiscent of "parts is parts." Of the various theories of intellectual property that currently exist—including "trade secret" for the sake of argument—the general scope of a patent seems the best fit. The problem, though, is that the public interest and innovation are probably best served by having a different patent term for software than for, say, intermittent windshield wiper motors. The problem is that the patent system says "patent = 20 years," sort of like mandatory minimums and the Sentencing Guidelines.
  • Via the IPKat, it appears that a rush to ratification and accession in Eastern Europe will bring the Patent Law Treaty (auf Englisch) into effect in April. The treaty is supposed to harmonize patent formalities by providing for standardized forms, procedures, and deadlines. Whether this means anything given the vastly different examination systems in signatory countries remains open to question. Who am I kidding? It remains open to serious doubt.

More later; fan fiction will probably have to wait for tomorrow.