Not sure how this one got by me. Though I don't listen to rock anymore I consider Jimi Hendrix to be the greatest rock guitarist of all time. The online site STARPOWER.COM reports that in Feb. the Hendrix estate won a 3 million dollar trademark verdict.
The case involved use of the Hendrix likeness and signature on purple tinged vodka bottles.
Was this meant to call Hendrix to mind? Of course. But I find myself of two minds about such conduct. Yeah yeah I suppose his heirs should be entitled to some loot. Indeed there have been wrangles involving Jimi Hendrix everything for years.
But Hendrix died in 1970. Why shouldn't someone or anyone have free reign to use his image. The more the merrier. With nobody able to claim the exclusive right to do so.


Poor John Squires: Better to Stay In House and Let Someone Else Handle the Losers

Ahh it was so much easier before the Internet. The universe was so well ordered.
Those in command went about the business of running the world. And little people stayed out of the way.
On the rare occasion when a non-master of the universe[NMOTU] actually rose up to say " please sir that's wrong", a sternly worded letter(often filled with nonsense) would silence the rabble. And there was little they could do about it.
But now anyone tell everyone everything. And that can be very disruptive to those whose business it is to really run things. So the lawyer in me feels a certain amount of pain for John Squires, the newly minted head co-chair of IP at the white shoes law firm Chadbourne blah blah LLP. Oh did I mention that before joining Chadbourne, Mr.Squires was head of IP for Goldman Sachs? Not exactly the AIG Goldman connection but worthy of note.

Suddenly, after just settling in, he gets the " Houston we have a problem" problem.

Here's this [please insert epithet] Mike Morgan, a nobody, a NMOTU, who has decided to start publishing uncomfortable information under the blogsite
One read of this website and nobody, repeat, nobody would think they are reading from the Goldman Sachs hymnal.
Perhaps it was desperation. Perhaps it was the all to common misreading of trademark law by a patent practitioner. Perhaps it was the vibes from the new Yankee stadium.
But Mr.Squires sent Mr. Morgan a pre Internet "get off the face of the earth" letter. Taken from the Jones Day, Monster Cable form book of letters.
And now Goldman has reaped the whirlwind.

Perhaps the masters of the universe( and their lawyers) need to learn other new rules besides the new rules of investing.



Yesterday I attended a webinar put on by Gathering 2.0. These folks aspire to become the Facebook of the IP world. The seminar was titled The Elephant in the Room. And it was meant to be a provocative commentary on the prevailing patent strategies employed by those with the biggest stake in the current patent system. The lecturer was a seasoned patent attorney who practices in Silicon Valley for one of America's most well known law firms.

This gentleman trotted out some statistics to demonstrate that filing large numbers of cheap patents is false economy for those companies who depend on patents to protect their interests. He challenged the accepted wisdom of letting technical people drive the patenting strategy. His fundamental point: Large numbers of cheap patents, written by solo practitioners, sought for reasons unrelated to a clear market strategy, produce assets of little or no value at great cost.

So what's the cost effective alternative? Seek quality not quantity. Let experienced patent attorneys, part of a full service law firm, familiar with the companies goals, file a small number of elaborate patents applications. Since, by definition, such attorneys charge $300 to $400 dollars per hour, let them charge by the page instead of by the patent application.

Seems to make a lot of sense. Or does it?

Einstein is famous for noting that we can't solve problems using the same thinking that produced the problems. More prosaically, if you are a hammer then you see the whole world as a nail.

The larger fact is that a revolution is underway. And this revolution is meant to overthrow the old fashioned ways in which legal services have been delivered. Does size matter? You bet it does. SMALLER IS BETTER. More efficient. More nimble. More able to fairly share the risk.

Should companies stop filing large numbers of narrowly written( read worthless) patents? Absolutely. But must they accept the open ended $400.00 per hour alternative? Of course not.

And what's the best evidence? The ever increasing number of biglaw partners who are leaving their firms to go solo or as part of a small group. Why are they leaving? Because they understand that the lock step internal economics of the law firm force them to charge far more for their services than the services are really worth.

By fully embedding themselves in technology, and by adopting an entrepeneureal mindset, lawyers are delivering superb legal products to their clients at a fraction of the cost that biglaw can deliver the same- or less- product. Everyone else in the world must offer fixed fees- why not the lawyers? No reason. Most everyone else offers some form of satisfaction guaranteed. Why not lawyers? No reason.

But there is a more fundamental question that economists and some lawyers are asking about the US patent system. There is a mounting body of evidence to support the radical conclusion that patents inhibit rather than promote innovation.
Here's where we can really apply a different form of thinking than the thinking that brought us to this crisis. Is it time to jettison the patent monopoly grant and consider other ways to reward those who innovate?
Hopefully, the very serious economic challenges we face will mean that all points of view, and new and different ways of thinking, get considered.