Sunday, July 31, 2011

More Frivolous Patents

Seal of the USPTOThe patent trolling continues, which should really be no surprise. Consider that Nortel put its portfolio of 6,000 patents on the auction block, with Google starting bidding at $900 million dollars only to be beat out by a consortium of Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, EMC, Ericsson and Sony for $4.5 billion ($750 million each). Each of these companies, Google included, wants to protect itself from patent trolls along with finding new revenue streams from licensing options.

The fun doesn't end there...

Lodsys sues Rovio

Rovio, the makers of the wildly popular (and somewhat addictive) Angry Birds game, is being sued for patent infringement by Lodsys. Lodsys claims that it holds a patent that covers how Angry Birds allows players to purchase new levels in the game. While Apple has maintained that its licenses extend to third-party developers, Lodsys started laying its groundwork in a May 31 post, Apple's License Claim Disputed.

The Lodsys About the Inventor page claims that Dan Abelow is a prolific inventor and an expert on website usability, ease-of-use and assured user performance. It then uses a "click here" link to direct traffic to Dan Abelow's web site. His web site content consists of text as images with image maps for the in-content links. If you are web developer who isn't even at the "expert" level he claims, then you already know that his claim of being an expert on usability is clearly a flat-out lie.

That's the nature of the person behind this suit.

PacketVideo sues Spotify

Spotify has just made its debut in the United States and almost immediately after doing so is getting sued. PacketVideo is leaning on a 1995 (issued in 1997) U.S. patent related to streaming music, itself citing six other patents. PacketVideo was founded in 1998 and purchased by NTT Docomo Inc., Japan's largest mobile phone operator, in August 2010. The patent in question has stayed with PacketVideo. PacketVideo is also suing over a European patent originally owned by a Swiss company.

PacketVideo outlines its position in a press release on its site, PacketVideo Files Patent Infringement Lawsuits Against Spotify. Spotify's response is to be expected: PacketVideo is claiming that by distributing music over the Internet, Spotify (and by inference any other similar digital music service) has infringed one of the patents that has previously been acquired by PacketVideo. Spotify is strongly contesting PacketVideo's claim.

I am wondering if is just too small to bother suing.

Geotag sues 397 Companies

Last year a client reached out to me over some concern in the jewelry industry about patent lawsuits from a company called Geotag. In particular, companies that used a "find a retailer" feature to allow users to provide a zip code to see nearby stores were being sued. Given that Geotag paid $119 million for the patent, it was clearly in it for the shakedowm. This sampling shows that Geotag was really after the big fish, probably in hopes of a payout: Cartier and its Find a Boutique function at; Rolex and its Dealer Finder at; Sterling Jewelers' store locator on both and; Van Cleef & Arpels Boutique Search on; the store locator on Zale Corp.-owned; the store and event finder on and the store locator on Kroger Co.-owned

Not being a lawyer, I could not counsel my client on any particular legal action, but I could reassure my client that since Google Maps and Microsoft Bing provide much of this capability, it would be a matter of time before those two would either get caught up or step in and duke it out with the patent troll. Strange bedfellows indeed: Microsoft and Google jointly sue GeoTag Inc. in order to invalidate a patent asserted against more than 300 entities and Microsoft And Google Jointly Hit GeoTag With A Lawsuit To Invalidate Its Patent.


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don't Let HTML5 Become the New DHTML

Beers with non-HTML5 technologies imprinted on them.
This photo represents some of the technologies (pint glasses) that HTML5 (t-shirt) is thought to encompass (drink). The horror of that concept is represented by the hands (defensive wounds coming).

I had the pleasure of sharing some pints with Bruce Lawson and Chris Mills last week in London. While discussing what bands are emo versus punk rock and during an exchange of favorite phrases to refer to the chronically daft, we touched on HTML5 and its perceptions a bit.

This thought process was rekindled just this week when I got in a discussion with a not-very-technical manager of web projects who insisted on mobile support and decidedly CSS3-based styling by implementing HTML5. The key here is the insistence on using HTML5. For a little context, we use HTML 4.01 Transitional for our projects. It's a valid and complete specification. It allows us to use things like WOFF, CSS3, AJAX, support mobile devices and so on.

I understand that many have co-opted "HTML5" as a brand for a suite of new technologies (most of them even from the W3C or WHATWG). I do not accept that, however, because it confuses the point when it comes time to make choices about technologies. This is a battle I have already fought repeatedly back when DHTML (and IE4!) became the rage and I had clients asking what technologies I would use to build their pages — insisting in advance that it be DHTML. I could explain that DHTML was just a terrible term coined to mean HTML4, CSS and JavaScript, but clients didn't care. It didn't matter to them. Good for them.

For developers and the people that manage them, including those who write on these topics, I have a different expectation than I have from clients. Allowing HTML5 to mean CSS3, geolocation, H.264, or any other technology just makes it harder on us who work in this space. A technology for a project should be chosen based on the goals at hand, not because a client insists on it because of a misunderstanding of a brand or because the press release will sound great when citing how cutting edge everyone is. Most importantly, a technology should not be chosen because of confusion over terminology — least of all when that term actually refers to one particular specification.

Please, fellow developer/writer/manager, make an effort to understand the technologies you reference so you do not confuse other developers/writers/managers, set incorrect expectations with clients, or generally demonstrate that you do not get it (especially if you want to work for me).

I have written on this extensively (with many links in each article that are to further details not written by me):

If you are a writer (whether a journalist, blogger or analyst) then please take a few moments to read this useful and informational post: HTML5: notes for analysts and journalists (also not written by me). There will be a quiz. I don't know when, but there will be a quiz.

Now, to reveal how Bruce and Chris really felt about the HTML5 confusion:

Beers with non-HTML5 technologies imprinted on them. And Bruce Lawson and Chris Mills looking horrified and sheepish, respectively

Here are posts from both Bruce and Chris discussing this confusion, within the context of the new HTML5 logo muddying the point earlier this year:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Social Media Day 2011 in Buffalo #smdayBUF

Mashable Social Media Day logo.

Last night marked the second Mashable-sponsored Social Media Day here in Buffalo. With 154 RSVPs for the event, the venue, The Eights Bistro, saw a steady churn throughout the night as people came and went (but mostly came and stayed).

If you were not there then you can catch up with some of the activity by viewing the Twitter stream, tagged with #smdayBUF. There were many photos throughout the evening, and as some of the albums start to show up I will link them here. If you have one you want linked, please pass it along. This includes any video or news coverage.

Social Media ClubThis year's event was organized by the Buffalo chapter of Social Media Club. The Buffalo chapter is less than a year old and has many of the members that helped organize the event last year, plus many newcomers. This year the event enjoyed a greater turnout and more people who can claim that social media is an official part of their jobs now, when even just a year ago many organizations were still just dabbling. Thanks for this year go out to (yes, I am just using their Twitter handles): @buffalogal, @k8creative, @dangigante, @ecollins7, @ashleiJ, @Isimon33, @aaronpsmith, and @djlopro

The list of sponsors is pictured below, and they were all kind enough to generate door prizes, services, time and effort.

List of Social Media Day Buffalo sponsor logos.

In addition to all this fun, I decided to follow someone around who was capturing video of the event on her phone, making for a nice, pointless, unnecessarily loud video of my own (if you are at work, turn down your speakers before playing it):

As I said above, if you have your own images, videos or links, please send me the links or comment below.

Photos and Videos

Previous Events