The Link Between Patent Law And Billy Goats

Patents, like bridges, are prime draws for trolls.

But while their bridge-dwelling cousins have a taste for billy goats, patent trolls have a more costly appetite for technology companies and their work. Patent trolls forage for intellectual property on the cheap, then demand booty in the form of royalty payments or legal settlements from companies that actually make things that other people buy. This tactic has become so common and so aggravatingly effective that some technology companies began imitating it with their own patent portfolios.

The prevalence of companies aggressively acquiring and litigating computer-related patents have led to calls for legislative reform. In the meantime, the state of such patents range from the perfectly legitimate to the semi-absurd. (In one high-profile example, patent owner Jim Logan sued various podcasters, claiming that his 1996 patent on reading magazine articles aloud and distributing them via cassette tape means that he has a claim on the idea of any syndicated audio content sent directly to the listener.)

Software patents are undoubtedly important, because there are new and better software innovations still to be invented. But patents on “business methods” are another matter. Many business method patents amount to little more than the hypothetical or trivially challenging application of a well-established principle to some aspect of everyday commerce. Patents are supposed to protect genuine inventions, not mere ideas. (Time travel would be neat. Maybe I’ll patent the idea of using a computer to run a time-travel machine.)

For a more immediate example, consider’s “1-Click” ordering system. 1-Click is not only a registered trademark; Amazon patented the process as well. At least, it sought to do so, with varying degrees of success. Europe denied the application for a patent outright. Canada’s patent office eventually granted the patent, after being ordered by the courts to re-examine the patent’s initial rejection. The U.S. granted the patent; when that patent was challenged, Amazon narrowed it slightly, and the patent office re-examined and ultimately approved the amended version.

Why the differences between patent offices? It has to do with the nature of what Amazon sought to patent. If you think of Amazon as a large department store, 1-Click is the equivalent of allowing the customer to say, “Charge it to my account and send it to my house.” Wealthy matrons have said as much in physical stores for the past 100 years. All 1-Click did was compress and consolidate many existing steps: entering your address, entering your credit card information, reviewing everything and clicking confirm. Amazon did not invent cookies (the way such information is stored), and the patent had nothing to do with the way the payment was actually processed. It was just about eliminating redundant steps.

The idea of streamlining multi-step processes has been around forever. There was a particular movement toward efficiency in business a century ago, led by Frederick Winslow Taylor, whose disciples included Henry Ford. Taylor’s ideas are credited with leading to the principles of mass production that drove early 20th century industrialization. Today, efficiency consultants are common in business. They don’t, by and large, make whole new processes. Instead, they look at existing business practices and suggest ways those practices can be conducted quicker or more accurately.

The Amazon 1-Click method simply said: “What if we saved customers’ information when they entered it the first time, so customers didn’t have to enter the same information over again?” If that idea is a patentable business process, we have a problem.

The government has decided it is patentable, at least in America. The recently argued Supreme Court case Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International indicates that we do, indeed, have a problem.

At issue in the case is a claimed invention that serves as a sort of computerized escrow system. Alice Corp. managed to secure a patent on the system because, though escrow agents are not generally patentable, the system’s computerized component was deemed integral to the process. CLS Bank arguably infringed on Alice Bank’s patent when it, too, set up a computerized system to track the various transactions banks make with one another throughout the day in order to keep any party from promising more than it could deliver.

A trial court invalidated Alice’s patents, on the grounds that they represented abstract concepts, which are not eligible to patent. The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the trial judge’s ruling. However, that appellate decision was split seven ways, and yielded no clear majority opinion.

It is not clear if the Supreme Court will go further than it has in previous intellectual property cases. While many observers expected Alice to be a decision affecting software patents specifically, the arguments seemed to suggest the Court will instead focus on when, if ever, business method patents are appropriate. In the absence of Congress writing clear rules, the courts are left to decide where the boundaries of patent law are located.

Justice Stephen Breyer expressed concern that allowing patents that merely protect the idea of using a computer to do something useful – like time travel – will shift the system’s focus away from encouraging genuinely useful innovation.

Experience shows that patents are currently being issued broadly to cover ideas instead of inventions. Amazon didn’t invent the computer, the mouse, the click or the credit card. It patented the idea of combining these existing tools more efficiently – an idea that is exactly what business schools have been teaching for decades. While the Supreme Court may not be prepared to effectively outlaw patents on business methods, I hope it will at least limit such patents to inventors who develop both a genuinely novel idea and a practical way to apply it.

And I won’t mourn at all if the Supreme Court concludes that business methods are ideas, not inventions, and are thus unpatentable. It might leave some trolls hungry, but I trust they can find more useful ways to earn a living.

Websites For E Commerce That Actually Work

Given the ability to boost the sales by setting up websites for E commerce, many companies did not hesitate to transform their brick and mortar business to an online retailer store. However, the popularity of websites for E commerce also entails the astoundingly stiff competition which in turn means that while some online retailers thrive, others default or are forced to close the operation. Let us begin by spoiling any myth: E commerce does work and can generate huge profits, if approached correctly. This means that every little detail of the website needs to be perfect in order to sway the customers into purchasing from you time and time again.

Setting up a website for online retailing purposes

The first and probably most important aspect in setting up a website for selling your products on the internet implies choosing the correct platform. Ideally, the platform of choice should be designed under ASP.NET in order to guarantee full compatibility with the MySQL database. Moreover, the platforms design in ASP.NET are simpler to use even if you lack a technical background, but they also incorporate all the necessary features of an E commerce website. An ideal platform comes fully equipped with support for different types of currency, shopping cart, sign-up page and customer account management and, of course, technical support.

Once you have decided on what platform you should use, you will need to search for an appropriate hosting server for your new e commerce web page. The most critical factor to account in this decision is the uptime as, after all, you are aiming to provide your customer nearly 24/7 access to your products or services. In addition, it is advisable to choose a hosting service that has sufficient bandwidth as not to cause slow web page loading or errors. On a side note, verify whether the platform you have chosen for your website is compatible with the servers of the host.

E commerce website ideas

While some webmasters prefer the classical format of E commerce web pages, the truth is that repetitiveness does not necessarily work in their favour. Instead, why not try a website layout that emulates the type of products or services your company sells? Without going overboard with the details and customization, modify boring aspects of the conventional layout in a manner that is pleasing to the eye. Furthermore, the best website ideas are not overly complicated and the contrast between the text and background enables users to find the submenus they are looking for with ease. Moreover, the E commerce site should emphasize on the special offer or promotional items section in order to capture viewer’s attention.

Among the essential methods of preventing users from giving up the website before the transaction is completed are inserting purchase completion bar, real time chat features or presenting a security certificate. Basically, online commerce is all about building and reinforcing a mutual trust relationship with your clients, conveying the message that all their financial or personal details are kept safe from prying eyes and that by purchasing from your E commerce webpage, the product will meet or even surpass their expectations.

Choosing the Right Agency for Translation Services

With the arrival of technology, the face of translation services is changing. With the help of tools and technology, the way the clients communicate with the translation services are undergoing revamp.So what factors you should look at when selecting a translation service provider?Experience: The basic job of translation services is to offer correct services. Experience is very essential for deliveries, as you need to deliver the product on or prior to the promised date. You need to factor in the time the agency has been operating in the industry.Scalability: Scalability of operations is essential for any translation company. Usually clients cannot get large amount of translation done from their agencies on time, as these agencies hires just a handful of professional translators who can handle small volumes. So opt for agencies who work with large number of translators easily available for your work.Translators: Check the number of translators working with the agency. Look at their domain knowledge, as the success of the project depends on the domain knowledge. For eg., a reputed translation services agency should know Chinese to English, Spanish to English, Arabic to English and for these they should employ at least 25-30 translators. This will allow them to provide the necessary client support.Sector-specific resources: Only expert providers of translation services have these resources, they hire professionals according to their domain knowledge. For e.g. if a medical client goes to an agency, the agency should dedicate a translator having legal background or expertise, so as to provide 100% accurate as well as relevant to the sector.Diversity in translation: If a client wants to hire an agency on contract, the agency should be able to showcase diversity in translation; they should be able to offer complete solutions such as document translation, website translation etc.Technology and Tools: Tools and technology are important to offer correct translation and cut cost. For e.g during a project for a client, the main aim should be to reduce cost and offer quality work. There are tools to prevent repeat word translation thus cutting client’s cost and time.Certificate Translation: There are certain government agencies, departments, courts, embassies, universities that need certificate translated into English before acceptance and they will need a professionally certified translation agency to certify its accuracy. So when you are going as a client you have to hire an authorized and expert agency to prevent rejections.Ranking and standards: As a client you always have to check the company’s reputation in the industry. Many agencies have attractive websites and claim to provide excellent services, but cannot handle tough translation jobs. You should also check if the company has an ISO 9001 Certified company as well as DIN EN 15038 Certification, the sole standard applicable for linguistic services.With this tips, you should have no problem in selecting the right translation agency.