By Paul Rossler

Q: There’ve been several stories lately about proposed laws intended to crack down on patent trolls. What is a patent troll?
A: To understand what a patent troll is, it’s best to first understand what a patent really is. Many people think that a patent gives its owner the right to make the invention, but that’s not right. A patent grants its owner the right to “exclude others” from making the invention. Because the patent right is the right to exclude others, a patent owner simply can wait for someone else to make, sell or use the patented invention and then sue that person for patent infringement. A patent troll is someone who does just that.

Q: Why is this such a concern?
A: Some studies have found that patent trolls cost the U.S. economy almost $30 billion a year just in fighting off patent troll lawsuits or paying licensing fees to make the trolls go away. The real rub in all of this is that a significant percentage of that $30 billion goes to fending off lawsuits involving questionable patents.

Q: What do you mean by a “questionable patent?”
A: This is a patent that never should’ve been issued by the Patent and Trademark Office in the first place, like getting a patent for an old method that now makes use of a computer. Others are nothing more than “what if” inventions drawn up long before that particular technology was available. The “scanner patent” is a great example. That patent claimed a system for scanning a document and then emailing the scanned copy. The owner of the patent was sending letters to businesses all over the country and demanding a $1,000 license fee per employee. The irony here is that if you did get sued for infringement of this patent, the court in which the suit was filed would be infringing the patent when it emailed you the complaint.

Q: Where are things heading with patent trolls?
A: Some states, like Vermont, have passed anti-patent trolling laws which lets defendants counter-claim for “bad faith patent assertion.” Others states, like Minnesota, have created settlement procedures in the attorney general’s office for dealing with patents like the scanner patent. The Patent and Trademark Office has implemented certain post-grant procedures as a way to reduce the number of patent lawsuits. Additionally, the Supreme Court recently handed down a ruling in a software patent case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International, which could make it easier for technology companies to mount a defense against method patents.


From Day One, a start-up company needs to protect its technology and its branding, and to budget for that protection. Some suggested steps follow, many of which require little or no direct, out-of-pocket expense.

1.Protect “the secret sauce.” Mark secret information as confidential, limit access to it, and enter into confidentiality agreements before sharing it.

2.File a provisional patent application on any unique product, method, composition or ornamental design that cannot be protected as a secret.

3.Choose a unique trade name and trademark. A trade name is the company’s “nickname” or “doing business as” name. A trademark is part of the company’s “brand,” the word or logo placed on products or services.

4.Buy the domain names that cover the trade name and trademark. Also register the name and mark on social media sites.

5.Place “TM” next to the trademark. This lets others know it is a trademark.

6.Apply for federal registration of the “flagship” trademark. Once federal registration is obtained, the circle R symbol, ®, can be used.

7.Give notice of copyright. Software code, web pages, photographs, and marketing literature can be marked with a copyright notice as soon as they are created.

8.Federally register creative material that is most likely to be copied. Registration must occur within three months of publication or within one month of learning of infringement, whichever is earliest.

9.Execute work-made-for-hire agreements. When hiring third parties to design, invent or create, make certain that the start-up company solely and exclusively owns all intellectual property rights.

10.Make certain employment agreements are clear about ownership. Similar to the work-made-for-hire agreement, employment agreements should clearly state that the employee is being hired to invent or create and that inventions or expressions are owned solely and exclusively by the company.

If you’ve ever wondered what the term, “continuous microtextured skin layer over substantially the entire laminate” means, then you’re not alone.  The Federal Circuit recently pondered this very thing in deciding a patent infringement case brought by 3M against Tredegar,[1] a supplier of film laminates used in baby diapers, training pants, and adult incontinence products.  3M owned several patents[2] that claimed certain types of laminates used in the waistband or side tabs of baby diapers.

The side tabs are made up of “stretchable films or laminates that allow the [diaper] to expand to fit around the person wearing them[,] with the laminate stabilizing to recover its shape once stretching is complete” (see FIGS. 1 & 2).[3]  Whether Tredegar’s film laminates infringed the 3M patents depended in part on the meaning of the term, “continuous microtextured skin layer.”

3M argued the term meant “the skin layer, not the microtexturing, must be ‘continuous’ across the laminate because the adjective ‘continuous’ only modifies the noun ‘skin layer.’”[4]  Further, “if the inventors had wished to require the microtexturing to be ‘continuous,’ then they would have used the adverb ‘continuously’ instead of ‘continuous.’”[5]  Tredegar argued the term meant “the microtexturing and the skin layer [had to] be ‘continuous’ across ‘substantially the entire surface area of the laminate.’”[6]  In other words, the entire laminate had to exhibit microtexturing.

After studying the patent, the Federal Circuit sided with Tredegar.  The court found no discussion in the patents which limited the microtexturing to a single skin layer.  Instead, the patents referred to “unique continuous microtextured surfaces.”[7]

In a concurring opinion, Judge Plager opined “the nuances of comma usage seem to me a tenuous foundation” on which to base the meaning of a claim.[8]  He would rather apply a contract drafting doctrine called contra proferentem to patent claim language.[9]  “When a term is ambiguous, . . .  the ambiguity should be construed against the draftsman.”[10]  Better yet, he thinks an ambiguous term (and therefore the claim) should be “invalidated as indefinite.”[11]

In a dissenting opinion (in part), Judge O’Malley takes the side of “natural reading” or “plain and ordinary meaning” rather than that based on a precise understanding of grammar.  Grammatically, Tredegar is right.  However, in the judge’s view, as a matter of natural reading (whatever that means), 3M is right.  If the word “continuous” was intended to describe the microtexturing, then the adverb “continuously” would have been used because, as “any reader” would know, adverbs modify adjectives.[12]  I guess I’m not any reader.

This case reminded me of why so many patent attorneys chose a technical degree over an English degree: because they generally don’t understood the nuances of commas or know that adverbs modify adjectives, verbs and other adverbs, but not nouns. And sometimes neither does the Federal Circuit.   For proof, see my bracketed addition in the court’s sentence quoted in paragraph 2 above.

[1] 3M Innovative Properties v. Tredegar Corporation, slip op. (Fed. Cir., Aug. 6, 2013).  In addition to the above term, the court tackled the meaning of continuous contact 10, preferential activation zone 21, ribbon 30.  See id. at 10, 21, &30.  If that’s not enough for you, you may want to read the lower court opinion.  That court had to construe the meaning of about 30 separate terms.  See id.,  Plager, J. (concurring) at 1.

[2] U.S. Pat. Nos. 5,344,691; 5,501,679; 5,691,034; and 5,468,428.

[3] Tredegar, slip op. at 3, 5 (reproducing figures from U.S. Pat. No. 5,691,034).

[4] Id. at 19.

[5] Id. at 21.

[6] Id. at 18.

[7] Id. at 21.

[8] Tredegar, Plager, J. (concurring) at 3.

[9] Id. at 4.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Tredegar, O’Malley, J. (concurring in part, dissenting in part) at 2.

The Basics of the Music Business and Musical IP Protection

“I wish there had been a music business 101 course I could have taken.” — Kurt Cobain

“I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then” — Bob Seger

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” — Hunter S. Thompson

The Music Business

From the outside, the rock star1 has it all – limos, money, adoring fans, everything. Gets to take the stage and rock out every night. They get their face all over magazines and TV, they get to date other stars, etc. The best of everything.

Well, maybe. As any artist will tell you, the one thing they all hate is the business part of the “music business.” Making and playing the music – the stuff that the general public sees – is the easy part. What most of us don’t see are the onerous management agreements an artist enters into because they don’t know any better. The various accounting “intricacies” (shall we say) used in the business. The number of artists that sue their labels/managers/partners/whomever because they are bankrupt is eye-opening.

“What??”, you say. “How can those people go bankrupt?? They’re out there making millions, aren’t they??”

Again – maybe. What most folks don’t understand is how relatively little a performer can make, even if they are selling a zillion copies of their CD. Let’s use a purely fictitious (and yet eerily accurate) example. Your band, “The Weasels”, has just been signed to Nursery Rhyme Records. They love you so much, they have given you a $250,000 advance on a five-album deal that also will pay you a 12.5 percent royalty. Woo-hoo! But wait – you have to pay that manager her 20%. OK, still there’s $200,000. But, that is split between the four of you, so while it’s a nice chunk of change, it isn’t going to buy you a mansion.

So then Nursery Rhyme sets you up to record your first album. You call it “Pop Go”. They hire a really great, top-line producer (who costs at least 4%). Because your royalty rate is “all in”, you are responsible for covering the Producer’s points. But, all is well because “Pop Go” sells a million copies. So you’re rich, right?

Wrong. Those producer’s points come out of your royalty rate, making your rate effectively 8.5%. But that rate, when applied to the price of the CD ($10) times 1 million leaves you with $850,000 . So hey – not bad, even when divided by four! But wait – that advance? subtract that. Fees for the recording studio? Subtract that. Manager’s hotel expenses when meeting with you while recording? Subtract those. Fees for the video you made (conservatively $200,000)? Subtract that. Now that $850,0002 is a heck of a lot less, and you may not even be in a break-even position yet.


Everyone recognizes that Van Halen is one of the world’s top-selling rock groups. But to hear Eddie and Alex tell it, they experienced something exactly like what is described above. They had a contract with Warner Brothers, recorded their first album relatively quickly and toured the worlds a few times over. The album sold over ten million copies. When it came time to record the second album, they sat down with their label (Warner Brothers at that time) and were told they still owed the label $2 million even after all of the above3.

Now, our example with ‘The Weasels’ is clearly simplified, and a lot of things are not accounted for here – performance or merchandising income, for example. But you can begin to get a taste for why it is a million-selling artist can either never make money or can go broke. And you also see why some of these artists who had a few semi-hits ten years ago are still out there on the concert circuit – simply put, they have to be if they want to eat. Granted, some artists go out because they like to – Paul McCartney is an example of somebody who long ago never needed another dime. But, Sir Paul is not only one who loves to perform – he long ago got into music publishing and has made a good part of his vast fortune in that area4.

So where is the money in this business, then? In a word – publishing. Songwriters make if not all the money, then most of it. Those who write the songs get a tidy 9.1 cents per copy sold. If you write all the songs on a 10-song, $10 CD, and it sells a million, you are looking at nearly a million dollars, just for the songwriter’s royalties.

This is only if you are not performing your own songs. If you ARE recording your own songs, and you are thus the songwriter AND the performer, in which case the label may have inserted a “controlled composition” clause into your agreement. In that case, the clause limits the amount of money they have to pay you as both performer and songwriter – usually 75% of the applicable rate, and usually accompanied by a “cap” on the number of songs of yours and/or the total amount they will pay on. Let’s say that you have a “cap” and then also record cover tunes on your label. The label will have to pay the full rate to the writers of those cover tunes, because they have no reduced agreement with those artists. But doing that may eat up your “cap” and thus your songs on your own album may make you little no money.

Fun, eh? You may have notice me using terms like “album” which are rapidly becoming antiquated in this age of downloading. The entire music business was built and relies on the concept of the old “recording agreement” and what are called “mechanical sales”, i.e., actual sales of physical product. But nowadays, such physical sales are way, way down, and the business and major labels are having a really difficult time adjusting their business model. In fact, a very good friend of mine (who is a very successful songwriter as well as a former studio musician, record label exec and also headed up a Performing Rights Society) remarked well over a year ago that the major labels had no real business model to deal with the changing ways of the music business is changing, and dang if he wasn’t spot on.

What we have been seeing is the evolution of the “360 deal” in which a label becomes what appears to be a 50/50 partner with the artist on all revenue streams – music sales, merchandising, touring, everything. Previously, all a label really wanted was a cut of sales – but no more. Now, they are tapping into all the streams they can, mostly because the old system isn’t working anymore – labels are losing money when simply tapping sales of product as a source. If you are a new artist, odds are exceptionally high that you have signed a “360 deal”, and you are giving up a good chunk of everything you are making to your label (and to your manager, and to your booking agent, etc.)

Now, in fairness to the labels, no one ever sees the acts that are financed but never break even. Most artists are money ‘black holes’ for labels and never recoup a label’s initial investment. That same friend I mentioned above told me that basically 5% of a label’s talent roster makes the money that allows them both to operate profitably and to try to develop the other 95% of the roster.

If you are astute (which you are showing by reading this far), you have identified this as yet another flaw in the old system. And you are right. Bands (and very successful bands) have been doing a lot of the work themselves, working with “indie” labels or distribution companies. And technology has certainly made it easier to make a good quality recording with nothing more than a laptop or an iPad®5. But a new crop of evil-doers has crept in – those labels that latch (or leech, more properly) onto a slew of young bands that don’t know any better, sign them to 360 deals, take half of their hard-earned touring/merchandise money, and basically rip the acts off. In addition, they will claim outrageous administrative costs (passed on to the bands of course, without pro-rating), and the bands are left out in the cold – usually less money than they would have had in the first place and are locked into contracts for a period of several years. And there is not a lot the bands can do, because they lack the money to fight thus new breed.

But there is hope – great music is popping up all over, and new revenue streams are being exploited every day. Ten years ago who would have thought that ringtones would be so popular or bring in so much money? All a band really needs is what they’ve always needed – talent and or a good promotional machine and some patience. And a good lawyer – preferably before they sign anything.

1Or country star, salsa star, or any other kind of music star for that matter.
2That’s only if your royalty agreement is calculated on 100% of sales, which historically, most are not.
3I can only guess how well that went over with the Van Halen boys, who are not known for their subtlety.
4Side note: Paul and Michael Jackson were once very good friends. Paul even counseled Michael to get into music publishing as a way to make money. Michael did just that – he outbid Paul for The Beatles catalog, and the two rarely spoke again afterward.
5“iPad” is a registered trademark of Apple, in which sadly I have no financial part.

Yes, No, Maybe So

The following list lists what is known about whether a new process or method is eligible for patent protection.  Or, perhaps more accurately stated, the list lists what federal statutes and U.S. Supreme Court precedents have to say about the subject.

  • Any new, useful and      inventive process is eligible for patent protection;[1]
  • However, “laws of nature,      natural phenomena and abstract ideas” are not patent-eligible;[2]
  • But “phenomena of nature .      . . , mental processes, and abstract intellectual concepts . . . . are the      basic tools of scientific and technological work;”[3]
  • Therefore, “too broad an      interpretation of [the above] exclusionary principle could eviscerate      patent law;”[4]
  • So, “a process is not      unpatentable simply because it contains a law of nature or a mathematical      algorithm;”[5]
  • Therefore, “[w]hile a      scientific truth, or the mathematical expression of it, is not a      patentable invention, a novel and useful structure created with the aid of      knowledge and scientific truth may be;”[6]
  • But in order for this      scientific truth or mathematical expression to be patent-eligible, “one      must do more than simply state the law of nature while adding the words      ‘apply it.’”[7]
  • And even if the natural      law, scientific truth or mathematical expression is applied in a      patentable way, it can’t “preempt use of the approach in all fields”      beyond that of the field of invention.[8]

In summary, a process is patent-eligible but it isn’t but it could be but it may not be.[9]

On to the Case at Hand

All of this clarity (or lack thereof) leads to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Prometheus, a case which involved patents[10] which claimed processes that “help doctors who use thiopurine drugs to treat patients with autoimmune disorders [such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis] to determine whether a given dosage is too low or too high.”[11]  Before the patents were applied for, here’s what scientists knew about thiopurine drugs:

  • When a patient metabolizes a thiopurine compound, metabolites form in the patient’s blood stream;
  • These metabolite levels are correlated with whether a particular dosage of the compound is too high, thereby causing harm, or too low and, therefore, ineffective;
  • However, no two patients metabolize a thiopurine compound in the same way;
  • Therefore, the precise correlations between metabolite levels and harm or ineffectiveness for patients in general, much less for any specific patient, were unknown.[12]

The inventors of the patented process figured out the precise correlations.  The patents claimed a method that included the steps of administering a drug which caused a certain metabolite to form, determining the level of that metabolite, and increasing the amount of the drug if the level was less than a certain level and decreasing the drug if the level was greater than another certain level.[13]

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the claimed method was not patent-eligible because it involved “well-understood, routine conventional activity previously engaged in by researchers in the field,” “simply describe[d] . . . natural relations” or correlations and did not “add enough to [these correlations] to allow the processes they describe to qualify as patent-eligible processes that apply natural laws.”[14]  (To learn how the Courth reached its decision, read the full article here).

Therefore, to be patent-eligible the claimed method or process must include “other elements or combination of elements such that, in practice, the claimed . . . process amounts to significantly more than a law of nature, a natural phenomenon, or an abstract idea with conventional steps specified at a high level of generality appended thereto.[15]  Generally speaking, a method or process claim is patent-eligible if it:

  • practically requires a      machine or involves a physical transformation that is necessary to accomplish      the steps; [16]
  • includes more than just      high-level steps or conventional steps that must be done regardless of      whether the claimed method is practiced; and
  • does “significantly more      than” tell a user how to apply a law of nature or mathematical equation in      order to accomplish the steps;

Because exactly what “significantly more than” means is unknown at this time, a method or process claim that satisfies these guidelines is most likely patent-eligible but, then again . . . .


[1] 35 U.S.C. § 101.

[2] Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. _____ U.S. , 132 S.Ct. 1289, 1293 (quoting Diamond v. Diehr, 450 U.S. 175, 185 (1981)).

[3] Id.. at 1293 (quoting Gottschalk v. Benson, 430 U.S. 63, 67 (1972)).

[4] Id.. at 1293.

[5] Id.. at 1293 (quoting Diehr, 450 U.S. at 187 (quoting Parker v. Flook, 437 U.S. 584, 590 (1978)).

[6] Id. at 1294 (quoting Diehr, 450 U.S. at 188 (quoting Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co. v. Radio Corp. of America, 306 U.S. 86, 94 (1939)).

[7] Prometheus, 132 S.Ct. at 1294 (citing Benson, 430 U.S. at 7172).

[8] Id.. at 1301 (quoting Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U.S. ___, 130 S.Ct. 3218, 3231 (2010).

[9] For a more detailed explanation of this line of cases, see Paul Rossler, Process or Principle? A Look at What Makes a Method “Patent-Eligible,” (Jan. 2011) and sections in the present article, “How Is This Diehr-frent?” and. “This Is A ‘Flook’?”

[10] U.S. Pat. Nos. 6,355,623 and 6,680,302.

[11] Prometheus, 132 S.Ct. at 1295.

[12] See id. at 1295.  For a more detailed explanation of the way in which thiopurine compounds work inside the human body, see Caroline Thorn et al., Thiopurine Pathway, Pharmacokinetics/Pharmacodynamics, (last updated Dec. 15, 2008; accessed Jun. 25, 2012).

[13] See Prometheus, 132 S.Ct. at 1295 (citing claim 1 of the ‘623 Patent).

[14] Prometheus, 132 S.Ct. at 1294, 1297 (emphasis in original), 1302.

[15] Andrew H. Hirshfield, U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Memorandum, Supreme Court Decision in Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc. 2 (bold in original), (Mar. 21, 2012, (bold in original).

[16] See also CyberSource Corp. v. Retail Decisions, Inc., ___ F.3d ___, 2011 WL 3584472 at *3 (Fed. Cir., Aug. 16, 2011) (holding that the test for patent-eligibility is whether the method requires the machine in order to perform the claimed method).  For a discussion of CyberSource, see Paul E. Rossler,, Debunking the Grassy Knoll Theory of Business Method Patents (Sep. 2011).

Patent applicants who file “Patent Cooperation Treaty” applications can expect to receive a “Registration of International Patent” notice from the “Worldwide Database of Patents and Trademarks” or WDTP.  At first glance, the notice looks official.  (A redacted notice can be found here.)   The notice has a barcode at the top, lists the type of information normally included on published patent applications and patents, references a legitimate organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization or WIPO, and notes that the application was published in WIPO’s Official Gazette.  So far, so good.

However, things quickly get dicey.  First, there is no such thing as an “International Patent.”  There are Brazilian patents, Canadian patents, and U.S. patents, to name a few, but no international patents.  Registering something that does not exist does not make any sense.  Second, the notice goes on to share the following indecipherable gobbledygook with unsuspecting applicants:

 This publishing forms the basis of our offer.  This form is solely the offer for the concluding of the contract, being the year registration of your international patent application in our internet database.  Applicant in the sense of the provision § 275 para 4 law no. 513/1991 Coll., Commercial Code, accepts this motion of Provider to the concluding of the contractual relationship by the execution of the non-cash settlement of the annual registration price to the account of Provider.  To access the database, identify the offer number.  By the settlement of the price Applicant agrees that the contractual relationship shall be governed by the company general terms of business, specified on the second page of this application; the issues not modified by these terms shall be governed by the law no. 513/1991 Coll. Commercial Code.  By the acceptance of this motion Applicant hereby declares to familiarize himself with the General Terms of Business and to read them; furthermore he declares to agree to their wording.

And I thought regular lawyereze was generally indecipherable!   The example above takes it to a whole new level.  As my father might say after reading something like this, “Oh, brother!”  But wait.  There’s more.  The notice concludes with information about a “Total Filing Fee” of $2,329 USD, payable within 14 days by wire transfer to the Slovak Republic or by check to the Czech Republic.

This is a scam, pure and simple.  Here’s the real story.  A Patent Cooperation Treaty application publishes within 18 months of its filing date or the filing date of any previously filed patent application to which the Treaty application claims priority, whichever date leads to an earlier publication date.  The published application is then available through WIPO’s website at  End of story.  There is no need to register the patent application in something called the Worldwide Database of Trademarks and Patents which, by the way, also has an official-looking website,  Or, more correctly stated, “official looking” at first glance.  The day I visited the site to “familiarize”  myself with the “General Terms of Business” cited above, the link to those terms was broken.  Perhaps the posting of this blog article will help break these patent charlatans’ business model or at least save a few applicants from being scammed.  One can hope.

A Modern-Day SOPA Opera: SOPA, OPEN, PIPA Oh My!

Posted: February 10, 2012 by Jeff A. Curran in SOPA

Listen up, all you internet users (which is basically everybody but my mother, who still views the Internet as the work of the devil, and will quote from the book of Revelation in support of her theory). Three bills you need to be aware of, because they may change the way you view (or more correctly, the way you are allowed to view) the Internet. and from what I’m reading, there are some pretty darned big sites and companies that are ready to either “go dark” in protest (Wikipedia, for example, which is where I do most of my legal research) or lend a big supporting hand to the protests of the current bills being considered (Google is one – who can live a day without Googling something? I mean for cryin’ out loud the Company has made itself into a verb!!). Those bills are:

1. Stop Online Piracy Act (or “SOPA”).

2. Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act (PROTECT IP or PIPA, which is easier but less descriptive. I’ve never seen a bill with a name so long it requires not one but two abbreviations).

3. The Online Protection & ENforcement of Digital Trade Act (or “OPEN” Act – again- what is it with thinking up names for these acts? But I guess “OPAENDTA” doesn’t quite roll off the toungue).

Sounds simple enough, right? I mean, who doesn’t want to stop people from stealing stuff and using the Internet to get away with it? Uh, hold on–not so fast there, scooter. Here’s a quick overview, along with the pretty darned serious problems that exist. The main thought is that there is a serious problem (which there really is) regarding piracy on the Internet. As paraphrased from the OPEN site ( the problem can be illustrated like this: downloading a movie from a foreign website is like buying a foreign product, but there really aren’t any trade laws equipped to deal with the online purchases from foreign sites.

The SOPA bill allows the Department of Justice and copyright holders to seek court orders against websites accused of enabling or facilitating copyright infringement. The court order could include barring online advertising networks and payment facilitators from doing business with the allegedly infringing website, barring search engines from linking to such sites, and requiring Internet service providers to block access to such sites. The bill would make unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content a crime, with a maximum penalty of five years in prison for ten such infringements within six months. The bill also gives immunity to Internet services that voluntarily take action against websites dedicated to infringement, while making liable for damages any copyright holder who knowingly misrepresents that a website is dedicated to infringement.

Proponents of SOPA say it protects the intellectual property market and corresponding industry, jobs and revenue, and is necessary to bolster enforcement of copyright laws, especially against foreign websites. Opponents say that it violates the First Amendment, is Internet censorship, and will threaten whistle-blowing and other free speech actions. A number of protest actions have been planned, including boycotts of companies that support the legislation, and major Internet companies “going dark” for a day (coinciding with hearing dates).

PIPA (or ‘PROTECT IP”, or whatever else you want to call it), appears to be SOPA’s twin, but in the Senate.

OPEN is, from what I can glean, a “bipartisan” bill written in response to the harsh criticism SOPA is receiving. (I always tend to squint my eyes when I see the word “bipartisan”).

Even the White House has entered the fray, with a post just a few days ago regarding the subject. Here’s a part of that post:

Any effort to combat online piracy must guard against the risk of online censorship of lawful activity and must not inhibit innovation by our dynamic businesses large and small.

And when the White House says “whoa”, you know there is likely a heckuva lot of pressure (political, economic, you name it) coming down against the proposed Act.

So who’s right? Well, everybody. Is there a lot of intellectual property piracy on the open internet seas? Absolutely. Does it need to be dealt with? No question. Do the SOPA and PIPA bills overreach and create more problems than they purport to solve? Yep. The bills do use the U.S. Court system to create a type of “internet police” as it pertains to copyrighted material. They also greatly increase the work flowing to litigators and litigation firms among other things, driving up (WAY up) the cost of doing business, which will most certainly hurt businesses generally and small businesses especially, because whether they are involved or not, others will be so involved, which will drive up the overall cost of products across the board as the increased cost is passed on to the consumer as much as possible. And how/why is it that the US Courts will be essentially graced with the responsibility of policing the Internet for the entire world?

Now that I’ve lit the fire and started the debate, feel free to discuss amongst yourselves (hey- it isn’t my job to give answers, just point out the questions).