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Rather than fall victim to current negative vibes about "the end of business as we know it", U.S. technologist and entrepreneur, Marc Andreessen is now also moving into venture capital for new ventures. Remarkably his focus is very early stage ventures, with investments of US$200,000 to US$500,000.

In the above linked video interview you'll hear in 2 minutes why he thinks the iPhone is a full general purpose computer and part of a new trend. More interestingly, in his full television interview [56 minute on Google video: low resolution version] you'll hear his views on a range of ICT developments.The interview was with Charlie Rose, a US television talk show host.

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Friday IT lawyer humour

Headlines can be funny. I was just reading one of my online news feeds.

First there was a CRN article headlined: "Microsoft wins 10,000th patent, lawyers everywhere rejoice." I was instantly impressed. Scanning down the news feed I saw that at Digg there was another side to the story - a brilliant headline: "10,000 patents, $9BN annually in research...and we get Vista".

There's no exclamation mark in that headline because the story here at Computerworld is balanced. Its author, Preston Gralla, say "I'm one of Vista's few fans, but even I recognize that it's got plenty of shortcomings. ... Vista is history repeating itself. It is Windows Me 2.0. It is crap and we all know it. One can only hope that Windows 7 is as good as Windows XP."

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Lawyers for online retailing in Australia

Defeating the ill winds of the economic downturn, Amazon had good financial results for the last quarter in 2008. If it is so good for the world's biggest online retailer, how is progress for Australian-owned online retailers?

This month Patrick Stafford has a very useful piece on online retailing in Australia for SmartCompany, an Australian online magazine. It comes as two of our retailing clients this month green lighted projects for greater online presence. We've been hand-holding those clients in the projects with referrals to specialist graphic designers, photographers, video film makers, video editors and e-commerce IT specialists.

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iPhone pinch pinched?

The Apple iPhone has popularised the use of a pinch gesture using two or more fingers to increase the size of text, a photo or other data on a screen.

Is the pinch intellectual property? In other words, is it an asset for which Apple can claim a monopoly right of ownership? Some bloggers think so, but given the reality of patent litigation caution is required. This post explains why.

To rousing applause, in January 2007 Apple's CEO, Steve Jobs, demonstrated the pinch on an iPhone. By early 2007 Apple claimed it had filed over 200 patents for iPhone. Apple's smartphone was launched in the US on 29 June 2007.

Two years later, on 20 January 2009 Apple's pinch-related iPhone patent application was accepted and US patent #7,479,949 was granted. Listed at the top of the list of its inventors was Mr Jobs.

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Outdoor advertising contract deals and statistics

We're engaged in discussions with a client for its outdoor advertising technology. Our work has been to model and structure its commercialisation roadmap, business models, intellectual property and contracts.This requires understanding the law and business of outdoor advertising.

The work triggered thoughts on why outdoor advertising is among the fastest growing advertising sectors in Australia and the United States.

As a Sydney CBD commuter I'm personally aware of the French outdoor advertising company, JCDecaux. JCDecaux has a great business worldwide. It has 8,900 employees and is present in more than 50 other countries.

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Commercialisation and Advertising Contracts in Paris

The brilliant French film comedy actor, Jacques Tati (1907-1982), made a career out of man versus machine films. They involved fish out of water stories with the fish (him) trying to come to terms with very modern technology.

In Tati's first major feature, Jour de fete (1949), he plays a rural postman. All is dandy in life when the Tati postman delivers the post using his bicycle.

But when new disruptive technology (a postal van) comes to the village, he finds himself struggling and in frantic competition against the van!

Now life becomes all about speed of delivery. Peddling madly the Tati postman's constant motivational refrain to himself is "Rapidito, rapidito!" Modern life has arrived. The Tati postman would gleam with a smile today at the return of bicycles to Paris. This is a commercialisation story, how a problem for some is a business opportunity for others.

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Software ecosystems

In a second year in a row Facebook has won the top prizes at The Crunchies. It won the awards for the best overall start-up in 2008 and Mark Zuckerberg (founder and CEO, Facebook) won the award for the best start-up CEO in 2008. The Crunchies (see award photo below) are awards for web ventures. They are hosted by TechCrunch, a leading techie web blog. In Technorati TechCrunch is currently rated as the No. 2 blog in the world.

This post suggests some clues on why Facebook keeps getting more popular, both among users globally and the digerati.

But first some background. In a recent artile we used the term "software ecosystem". It's worth exploring this term. It reflects the increasing importance of intellectual property, software licensing and online collaboration.

In the recent post we looked at software ecosystems being formed around smartphones such as the iPhone. Google's Android also has an ecosystem, see its developers page and explore the platform agnostic nature of Google Mobile.

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Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology - Part 3

And so we come to the big concept, habits. We'll consider the importance of habits in ICT marketing in this Part 3, the conclusion of our three part series on ICT developments in 2009 and beyond.

Part 1 and Part 2 consecutively examined the concepts of hype, spin and buzz. They achieve a major payoff when they change consumption habits.

Marketers seek to change consumer habits. With this they seek to redirect the attention, time and money consumers apply in their life, work and play time.

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Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology - Part 2

This is Part 2 of our look at ICT developments in 2009 and beyond. The discussion is structured by the typical marketing lifecycle implemented by ICT vendors.

Part 1 discussed the use of hype and spin in ICT marketing. The terms were applied to the increasing importance of cloud computing in 2009 and beyond.

In this part our focus is on smartphones.

As IP and IT lawyers we'll be monitoring in 2009 the business and software ecosystems around smartphones. This is because we serve the legal needs of those porting their products and service on smartphones, eg software application developers, website ventures, and publishers and other offline and online content owners.

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Predictions 2009: Information and Communication Technology - Part 1

What appears ahead in 2009 and beyond in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector?

This is Part 1 of our review of ICT developments. The discussion is structured around the typical marketing lifecycle implemented by ICT vendors. This involves understanding the terms hype and spin and other terms we'll pick up in the conclusion in Parts 2 and 3.

Hype is where things often begin in ICT. It is ever-present in marketing and public relations in ICT markets. Hype is designed to capture attention, change views, and drive people into action, usually a purchasing decision. Most ICT hype gets hit by our delete buttons. 

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Are adaptations of copyright work legal?

In each case the question of whether there is a copyright infringement requires a review of the law and the facts of the case. We did this after a few minutes of enquiry last month triggered by a Google Alert informing us that one of our articles has been adapted.

Questions arose. Was the unauthorised adapation an infringement? Should prior permission have been sought from us? We'll discuss these in the context of copyright law applicable to adaptation of copyright material made without permission.

This post ends with a practical copyright infringement checklist.

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Predictions 2009: Intellectual Property Law

Intellectual property (IP) law protects future things and processes using copyright, trade mark, patent, design, confidential information and other IP laws. This is usually in combination with IP licences and contracts.

To excel in IP law, particularly the commercialisation of IP and IP contract drafting, it helps to be a good futurist. Decisions are needed for drafting IP contracts, eg for setting royalties and scoping the IP rights granted. If either is set too high, or too low, the inappropriate decision has very concrete consequences, winners and loser.

Wisdom helps improve IP decision making. Wisdom comes with experience and is the result of practical rather than theoretical learning. That's what sets wisdom apart from knowledge, information and data.

Plenty of wisdom for IP futurists can be drawn from Intelletual Property, a 2007 book by Prof. Paul Goldstein. Goldstein's positions discussed here are broadly confirmed by the literature on IP trends generally. Here are our six predictions on where IP law is heading, with evidence and arguments drawn from Goldstein's book.

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Two new publications on IP contracts and business sales

Exciting news. The 2009 edition of the book, Licensing Update, includes a substantive chapter I penned. My piece is titled Current Approaches for Drafting IP Licenses.

It has two audiences in mind. First, readers into licensing and IP law in Australia. Second, drafters who want to improve their methodology for preparing licensing agreements.  

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What do Australians love to wear the most?

Australians buy a lot of swimwear, underwear and shorts. They have a passion for them.

This came to mind in recent intellectual property and business development project work for a client with a swimwear brand with growing export potential.

What explains this Australian passion? Moreover, what explains Australia's success in the commercialisation of this type of apparel? The answer tells us a lot about the importance of national brand perceptions and national market size.

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What every business should know about IP ownership

The legal ownership of intellectual property ("IP") may be unclear if one party uses IP created by another but has no clear legally binding contract, preferably written. Stop reading if that point is understood with respect to employment and independent contractor agreements. What follows is detail.

Various types of contract can avoid numerous IP risks, issues and problems.

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