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    Thursday, July 24, 2008

    Welcome to by blog on technology and law

    Welcome to my blog on technology and law. I endeavor to share my opinions regarding technology-related legislation, legal cases, and public policy as it relates to academic research and how these issues affect my business and, in general, the computer industry. However, the typical disclaimer applies here: no one may rely on these postings as legal advice and I encourage readers to consult an attorney for advice on any particular issue.

    With that said, I believe that my legal and scientific background provides me with a relatively unique perspective on how law—especially intellectual property—affect technological research and companies. Although I am of the opinion that intellectual property filings can assist inventors and entrepreneurs in giving them time to establish companies based on their inventions or to conduct further innovative research, I believe that the current way in which intellectual property is taught in law schools and practiced by attorneys was not quite what our founding fathers had in mind when granting, for example, limited monopolies for patent filings or limited copyright protection.

    The patent system is in dire need of an overhaul and should have more protection for individual inventors and small companies rather than for big corporations. I have seen too many fantastic tech start-ups go out of business because of large corporations practicing offensive patent litigation. As a result, I support defensive patenting for individual inventors and small companies, but the USPTO has new rules looming on the horizon that will make it much more costly for small companies and individual inventors to file multiple patent claims thus benefiting large companies in the race to file.

    In addition, I find super-broad and non-novel claim drafting—especially in the software industry—to be stifling to innovation. I do not support over-broad, non-novel, and industry-stifling patents that are used as industry weapons to destroy competition rather than to foster innovation.

    Another relevant project on which I am currently working is a legal clinic/externship for law and computer science students. I spend a good amount of time in the hacker community, and while I do not condone malicious hacking, I think that traditional criminal law has not kept pace with technology. More research into criminology and education of both the computer hacker and the legal communities will lessen the divide between them. Giving computer professionals a better understanding of criminal law and the legal community a better understanding of computer science and technology will provide more just and effective prosecution or defense of those accused of computer crimes. A long term goal is for the clinic to assist in creating technology and privacy legislation.

    One of my primary interests in the computer hacker community is studying patterns of cyber crimes and computer security. When studying security, I also spend time assessing whether particular security measures improve safety in a way that does not severely infringe privacy and constitutional liberties.

    Lastly, I am a proponent of free and open source software. As a computer scientist, I like to get into source code for my computer applications and alter them to suit my needs, but that is usually not possible using proprietary operating systems, software and hardware. While in business school, I spent a lot of time studying how to make companies profitable that choose to offer their software/hardware with free or open source licensing and I hope to bring some of those ideas to this forum.

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