from the and-prehistory dept
Five Years Ago
The last few weeks have been very focused on copyright news, but this week in 2010 there was more happening on the patent front. Microsoft showed some hypocrisy in seeking help against a patent holder, despite its strong pro-patent stance, while people were pointing out that the company’s patent on fast shutdowns actually illustrates why Windows shuts down so slowly. Some were wondering if Paul Allen’s patent trolling was actually meant to demonstrate how bad the patent system is, while all of us were wondering just why Steve Wozniak came out in favour of patent trolls, and tried to figure out whether patent marking lawsuits were patent trolling or anti-trolling. We also took a look at how the patent office outsourced its job to non-experts and how companies were not too keen on accelerated review of green patents, while the Public Patent Foundation was challenging the validity of eight HIV/AIDS treatment patents.
Ten Years Ago
Five years earlier, Microsoft was seeking a patent on a pay-to-spam scheme that would net them money from both the senders and recipients of spam. A judge upheld a huge patent fee for prepaid mobile services, while a would-be iPod competitor was using bluffed patent threats as a form of publicity. Oh, and it turned out that ringtones were patented, apparently. We saw some nutty stuff outside the patent realm too: Indian movie producers got an open warrant to search all of New Delhi for unauthorized movie copies, and architects were stepping up as the latest group to whine about copyright infringement. At least sanity reared its head in a few cases, such as a judge catching on to the RIAA’s bullying tactics, and Disney actually considering un-windowed movie releases.
Fifteen Years Ago
This week in 2000, still in the midst of turmoil, Silicon Valley at least got a dark chuckle out of a list of 25 signs your dot com is going out of business. There were plenty of more serious examples to look at, too: the horror story of VitaminShoppe.com, the shaky business models of popular content producers, and the typical house-of-cards collapse of CollegeClub.com. Even Saudi Princes were losing money in the Valley.
Silly patents were already off to a good start all this time ago, with the latest being a patent on making international transactions via computers. Many people were looking to the future, trying to predict what the internet would look like in 2004 and beyond, and prepare for the rise of robots. This was a time when Deep Blue was more famous than many celebrities but CD sales were still going up. And new trends were appearing, or at least being noticed: things like the internet’s impact on religion, and the big business of translation. Change was rapid, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that your opinion of Napster was primarily dependent on your age.
Half A Billion Years Ago
Okay, obviously I don’t have anything dated to this week in the Cambrian era. But it was over a century ago on August 30th, 1909 that Charles Walcott began studying the 508-million-year-old Burgess Shale, a fossil field in the Canadian Rockies which has been critical to our understanding of the evolution of life on earth. It’s still teaching us things today — just two years ago, a newly-discovered outcrop of the shale yielded 50 new species of animals in just two weeks of study.