Ray Van Dyke Teaches Course on Intellectual Property at SMU

Next week at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, I reprise my course on intellectual property. Excerpts from the course description are set forth below and available online at  http://lyle.smu.edu/~matula/IPIT/

Dr. David Matula and I have taught the class since 2000, and I am honored to teach the class again on January 15 and 16, 2016. The Course is open to everyone and I hope to see those that can attend next week. Engineers, scientists, corporate and business people, faculty and students have praised the class, and 2016 will be no exception! My presentation includes all the basics on IP, current developments, and purposes of IP to our society (and the past).  For beginners, the class is a lively introduction to IP.  For those with some knowledge of IP, the materials offer a refresher with recent case law.

I hope to see you there!

Ray, vandyke@acm.org

COURSE DESCRIPTION

What is intellectual property? Why should I patent my innovation? How do I draft my claims?  This course will address the importance of technology and intellectual property in America, the fundamentals of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secrets for the lay person, and the real world application of those rights.

Fair use, open source, and alternatives will be described and interpreted.

Current developments and changes are also covered. In particular, the America Invents Act of 2011, the most monumental change to patent law since 1836, will also be discussed, and the significant effects on universities, small inventors and companies highlighted. Supreme Court, Legislation and other developments that affect these rights will also be covered in this popular and engaging presentation.

TOPICS TO BE COVERED BY THE COURSE INCLUDE:

  • History and Philosophy of Intellectual Property Rights and their role in the information age
  • Intellectual property’s impact on information system design and development
  • The inventor’s role in recognizing and protecting a patentable idea
  • Analysis of ground breaking industry patents
  • Impact of Emerging Technologies on Intellectual Property

DETAILS ON LOCATION AND CREDIT

Computer Science & Engineering Department

Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering
Presents

 16th Annual Short Course on Intellectual Property and Information Technology

January 15 & 16, 2016:  Friday 9:am-5:pm, Saturday 9:am-1:pm

Palmer Conference Center for Engineering Leadership

Caruth Hall, Rm. 406

3145 Dyer Street, Dallas, TX  75205

Short course fee:  $200 (group rates available)

SMU Students:  Credit – one hour:  Register for CSE 5111/7111

Non-credit complimentary SMU student registration available (contact beth@lyle.smu.edu)

Any remaining questions? Contact me at vandyke@acm.org or visit my webpage at http://www.rayvandyke.com

Ray Van Dyke Teaches Intellectual Property Basics in Rockville, Maryland November 11, 2015

As Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Section for the Bar Association of Montgomery County (BAMC), I am pleased to report that the IP Section is having a series of presentations on the fundamentals of intellectual property law  at the Bar headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  http://montbar.site-ym.com/?62

With the increasing value of intellectual property in today’s economy, as well as the ongoing controversies, non-IP professionals, whether attorneys, scientists, business people, and interested citizens, all want to better understand the workings of these legal principles and tools. The first meeting was an overview of all IP rights.

The next meeting, November 11, 2015, will be directed to the basics of patents, with the more detailed issues, legislation and controversies covered in in more detail in a subsequent meeting on December 1, 2015.  Copyrights and trademarks will be covered in 2016.

As the speaker, I can say that the material will cover not only the law, but will include anecdotes about famous cases and inventors, putting the material into the context of the times.  My materials have been collected and coalesced over the last 16 years as part of an in-depth course I teach at SMU to engineers, business people, teachers, students and other interested parties.

If anyone has any questions about the course and these meetings, please do not hesitate to contact me.

For attendees, I require an RSVP so that I can gauge the audience and handle logistics. So, if learning a little about IP law is of interest, this series of presentations will do the trick. I look forward to meeting you there!

Ray Van Dyke, Co-Chair, Intellectual Property Section, BAMC

202.378.3903  vandyke@acm.org

Ray Van Dyke Teaches Intellectual Property Basics in Rockville, Maryland Starting October 6, 2015

As Co-Chair of the Intellectual Property Section for the Bar Association of Montgomery County (BAMC), I am pleased to report that the IP Section plans a series of presentations on the fundamentals of intellectual property law for this Fall, Winter and Spring at the Bar headquarters in Rockville, Maryland.  http://montbar.site-ym.com/?62

With the increasing value of intellectual property in today’s economy, as well as the ongoing controversies, non-IP professionals, whether attorneys, scientists, business people, and interested citizens, all want to better understand the workings of these legal principles and tools.

The first meeting, October 6, 2015, will be a survey of the various IP rights to be covered in more detail in subsequent meetings, beginning on November 11 and December 1 and in 2016.

As the speaker, I can say that the material will cover not only the law, but will include anecdotes about famous cases and inventors, putting the material into the context of the times.  My materials have been collected and coalesced over the last 16 years as part of an in-depth course I teach at SMU to engineers, business people, teachers, students and other interested parties.

If anyone has any questions about the course and these meetings, please do not hesitate to contact me.

For attendees, I require an RSVP so that I can gauge the audience and handle logistics. So, if learning a little about IP law is of interest, this series of presentations will do the trick. I look forward to meeting you there!

Ray Van Dyke, Co-Chair, Intellectual Property Section, BAMC

202.378.3903  vandyke@acm.org

To Kill a Patent System: What Would Atticus Finch Do?

Last Wednesday I had the privilege to speak about the importance of Intellectual Property in Washington, DC.  As Chair of the Greater Washington, DC Chapter of the Licensing Executives Society, I and a friend, Sanjay Prasad, conducted the Introduction to IP and Licensing Course for LES. Here is the link:  http://www.lesusacanada.org/chapters/usa/washington-dc-chapter/march-11-2015-washington-dc-chapter-ip-licensing-basics

The Course is a good introduction to the mechanics of licensing of IP assets.  Please contact me or LES (www.les,org) to learn more about these programs which explore many more and advanced licensing topics.

That evening, I also spoke, with guest Todd Dickinson, on the ongoing challenges to the U.S. patent system in a talk called “To Kill a Patent System; What Would Atticus Finch Do?.”  Here is the link:  http://www.lesusacanada.org/chapters/usa/washington-dc-chapter/march-11-2015-washington-dc-chapter-meeting

Current bills in the House and Senate aim to impair and perhaps destroy key components of the U.S. patent system – through intended and perhaps unintended consequences.  Even though lobbyists for several tech companies are actively pushing for ways to gut the patent system, hopefully Congress can see beyond the hyperbole.  Under the guise of troll killing, these errant knights may instead kill the lifeblood of the nation.

In short, contact your Congressional representatives and urge them to exercise caution. The current quest or zeal for patent reform should not run amok, as the Fourth Crusade, where Constantinople was shamefully ransacked.  The intended/unintended consequences of many of these new reform measures will undercut our nation.

The ongoing mantra that patents hinder innovation is utter nonsense.  Patents protect innovation, secure funding for fledgling companies, and otherwise promote new ways of life.  By condemning patents as anti-innovation, the big tech companies, through their lobbyists and the press, are themselves trying to hinder innovation by eliminating competition, and maintain their own market share without disruptive upstarts.

LES and many other organizations condemn these actions to cynically malign the patent system for private gain. But we should all lend our voice against this rather malevolent attempt to kill what our Founders gave us.  Patents and copyrights are the only rights set forth in the Constitution.  All other rights are separately attached in a Bill of Rights, such as the right of free speech, etc. Our great nation owes much of that greatness to a robust patent system, where innovation and innovators large and particularly small are protected.  Tilting the system toward large corporations with large war chests undermines the fabric of what the Founders wanted and what our nation needs.  These recent legislative efforts go too far, and our representatives need to know this.

Raymond Van Dyke, IP/patent practitioner and educator

vandyke@acm.org, 202.378.3903

Ray Van Dyke Teaches Course on Intellectual Property at SMU

Next week at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, I reprise my course on intellectual property. Excerpts from the course description are set forth below and available online at  http://lyle.smu.edu/~matula/IPIT/

Dr. David Matula and I have taught the class since 2000, and I am honored to teach the class again on January 16 and 17, 2015. The Course is open to everyone and I hope to see those that can attend next week. Engineers, scientists, corporate and business people, faculty and students have praised the class, and 2015 will be no exception! My presentation includes all the basics on IP, current developments, and purposes of IP to our society (and the past).

I hope to see you there!

Ray, vandyke@acm.org

COURSE DESCRIPTION

What is intellectual property? Why should I patent my innovation? How do I draft my claims?  This course will address the importance of technology and intellectual property in America, the fundamentals of patent, copyright, trademark and trade secrets for the lay person, and the real world application of those rights.

Fair use, open source, and alternatives will be described and interpreted.

Current developments and changes are also covered. In particular, the America Invents Act of 2011, the most monumental change to patent law since 1836, will also be discussed, and the significant effects on universities, small inventors and companies highlighted. Supreme Court, Legislation and other developments that affect these rights will also be covered in this popular and engaging presentation.

TOPICS TO BE COVERED BY THE COURSE INCLUDE:

  • History and Philosophy of Intellectual Property Rights and their role in the information age
  • Intellectual property’s impact on information system design and development
  • The inventor’s role in recognizing a patentable idea
  • Analysis of ground breaking industry patents
  • Impact of Emerging Technologies on Intellectual Property

DETAILS ON LOCATION AND CREDIT

Computer Science & Engineering Department

Bobby B. Lyle School of Engineering
Presents

 15th Annual Short Course on Intellectual Property and Information Technology

January 16 & 17, 2015:  Friday 9:am-5:pm, Saturday 9:am-1:pm

Palmer Conference Center for Engineering Leadership

Caruth Hall, Rm. 406

3145 Dyer Street, Dallas, TX  75205

Short course fee:  $200 (group rates available)

SMU Students:  Credit – one hour:  Register for CSE 5111/7111

Non-credit complimentary SMU student registration available (contact beth@lyle.smu.edu)

IP in 2014: The Good, the Bad and the Idiotic

For those in the Washington, DC area, I am giving a talk at INCA (http://www.dcinventors.org/) next Monday evening. INCA, which stands for the Inventors Network of the Capital Area, is a nonprofit educational organization whose members are interested in patents, the innovation process, product design, marketing, licensing, prototyping and other product development issues. I am a proud member of INCA.

Hope to see you there!

Ray Van Dyke, vandyke@acm.org, www,rayvandyke.com

Myanmar and the United States: Two Tales of Copyright Piracy

Song writers and composers often go to great lengths to create new songs and, like all creators, wish to maintain control over their creation, particularly if the song becomes popular or iconic.  The copyright laws developed centuries ago to foster such activities, much like the patent laws encourage innovation. Through international treaties, songs and other content are protected across the world, provided the countries adhere to the rules and guidelines in the treaties.

Although a member of international treaties, with copyright law obligations, the nation of Myanmar’s copyright laws have not been updated for over a hundred years, and apparently cover only works first printed in Mynamar.  Accordingly, all content is fair game, and Myanmar has pop stars singing popular world songs, primarily American, with adaptive Burmese lyrics.  In short, these song writers in their new songs and videos have created derivative works from the original songs, such as from Celine Dion, Bob Dylan and many others.

Copyright laws cover the expression of new ideas, whether in words, software code, images, statues or other manifestations of expression.  The depth of human ingenuity and capability of expression have no bounds, and the copyright laws were designed to provide protection for much of humanity’s expressions.  One of the bundle of copyright rights accorded creators is the right to control derivative works, i.e., adaptations from the original work.  J.K. Rowling, for example, has zealously guarded her Harry Potter creation, and for good measure since otherwise we would have been inundated with countless knock-offs and facsimiles.

Some may argue that this is unjust, that people should have broad rights to engage in such copying endeavors.  For this, the copyright laws allow an exception to the copyright holder’s broad rights, i.e., fair use.  However, a fair use of another’s property almost always entails a societal good involved, such as commentary, satire, education and such.  We value free speech and the ability to criticize and discuss.  We also value fairness.  If the copyist makes money from someone else’s labor, this greatly undermines the fair use exception.  Again, humans are inherently creative, and need not copy or emulate another person’s success, particularly for profit.  Other and different creations are thus encouraged, which increases the fund of human knowledge.

In the early years of our nation, America was a pirate nation and our copyright laws were inadequate to counter this scourge against creativity.  Charles Dickens and many others railed against our lack of adequate copyright laws.  Mark Twain was also a strong critic of publishers printing the novels, stories, poems and other content of artists, domestic and international, without any permissions or payment to the artists.  Mark Twain said in exasperation: “Only one thing is impossible for God: To find any sense in any copyright law on the planet.”

I recently saw a movie about Edgar Allen Poe and he, too, was an earlier advocate of amending the American copyright laws to protect artists.  Eventually, the United States did amend their copyright laws (1909), in part thanks to Twain, and have since become a strong advocate for adhering to the law.  China and other countries have repeatedly pointed out our own history of copyright piracy in an attempt to justify modern piracy.

Thus, just as America did over a century ago, Myanmar needs to amend its antiquated copyright laws (1914), which allow the copying and adaptation of virtually everything for free, from Lady GaGa’s videos to Bill O’Reilly’s books.  Thus, international popular songs and movies there are freely adapted and played, e.g., the iconic imaging of the Dion song on the prow of the Titanic is duplicated. These copy-songs and videos are all the rage, and Phyu Phyu Kyaw Thein and other Burmese pop stars are using others’ property for private gain. Many of the artists, such as Ms. Thein, expressed ignorance of the copyright laws, and to be fair, there are apparently no violations there with the laws so written.

Hopefully, the Burmese government will soon pass legislation to accord their copyright laws with the international treaties’ obligations and stop this unfairness. Perhaps our own government can apply trade and other pressure in this regard.

Indeed, the artists in Mynamar, although not now required to pay royalties to the aggrieved parties, should instead engage in that most human of activities, creative expression, their own creative expression.

Ray Van Dyke, Founder of Van Dyke Law, Patent/IP Practitioner and Educator

Shark Tank and Trade Secrets

On a recent episode of Shark Tank, the hosts quizzed the idea presenter about patent coverage for her new soap product.  She said she had none, but was pursuing trade secret protection instead.  It seemed to me, an IP practitioner, that she had likely attempted to obtain patent protection, but was having problems in that regard.

Patent protection on a product is the strongest protection you can obtain to prevent others from copying your success.  The idea presenter seemed to have a lot of word-of-mouth attention on her product, and said that her soap was different because it included 63 ingredients along with a loofah. It would be relatively straightforward to get a patent that required 63 separate ingredients, but any infringing product would require the inclusion of all 63 ingredients (or perhaps a smaller but still large number of them if the patent claims were crafted broadly).  But broad patent coverage on soap would be tricky to obtain.  As a patent practitioner, I have well learned that consumer products of this sort have a lot of “prior art,” i.e., previous inventions and products out there that would prevent broad patent coverage. You cannot patent something already known or close versions of them.

Hence, she needed to follow a different approach.  The inclusion of 63 ingredients in her soap makes it unique, and her customers pay a higher price than regular soaps.  Instead of patenting, trade secret protection can accord her some level of protection against someone stealing the recipe or such.  For example, assuming that all of her 63 ingredients, her manufacturing equipment, her methods and know how are kept as secret as possible, then trade secret protection would apply to her proprietary techniques.  Since she sells the product, however, some aspects may become known, e.g., governmental requirements for listing ingredients.  Nonetheless, her proprietary production techniques may remain secret.  The ingredients and process of making of Coca Cola have remained a secret for over a hundred years.

Trade secrets cover secrets, i.e., something not generally known; otherwise, how could you call it a secret? Processes, recipes, client lists, and other sensitive data and information can constitute a trade secret.  Also, trade secrets require the holder to treat the secrets as a secret, i.e., confidentially.  If not, then the secret is deemed out and anyone can duplicate.  Measures must be taken to maintain secrecy, such as restrictions on access, confidentiality clauses, locks and the like.  Failure to treat sensitive subject matter appropriately as secret can void your allegation of trade secret misappropriation, such as where a competitor visits your plant.  Steve Jobs toured Xerox’s facilities and walked away with the crown jewels, i.e., Xerox’s new paradigm for computing, which became Apple’s.  Breweries, for example, are vulnerable as plant visitors can easily swipe a surface for the proprietary yeasts and other ingredients used.

When I was a junior attorney, Procter and Gamble were marketing Duncan Hines cookies, the processing of which was covered by patent.  Nabisco, Frito Lay and those naughty Keebler elves were charged with patent infringement.  Evidence in that case involved trade secret misappropriation through subterfuge, e.g., trespass to observe the processing techniques and theft of ingredients.  The case settled on the courthouse steps, but the facts of the case were quite entertaining.

Trade secret laws are State and federal in nature, and there are much stronger economic espionage acts to cover the theft of trade secrets.  The United States loses countless billions of dollars each year due to trade secret theft.  With the Internet and cybertheft, cyberwarfare (and cyberterrorism), the realms of trade secret theft are virtually boundless, as incredibly sensitive national secrets, institutions and infrastructures are vulnerable to hacking, whether for fun, mischief or maliciousness.  Confidential data lists, such as Target’s and others’ customer lists, are trade secrets and highly valuable. Proper trade secret protocols and heightened security are a requisite.

Thus, trade secrets can be quite valuable.  However, it is best to patent wherever possible.  Although the Shark Tank idea presenter’s innovation, customer lists and other data may not lend themselves to patent protection, trade secrets can accord some protection for those innovations not meeting the stringent requirements for patent.  However, our Constitution advocates the promulgation of information instead of hoarding new ideas.  The patent system, for example, requires the publication of the full invention (and processes) in exchange for the patent, thereby ensuring the release of that information into the public domain, albeit at a short-term cost.  That is the patent bargain.  In a struggle between patent and trade secret, the patent system is most likely to prevail.

The sharks know the value of a good idea and they prefer patent protection.  The soap lady, although having a great product, did not have patent protection and did not get an offer.

I should add that other intellectual properties could apply to help the innovator.  For example, copyright protection may be used to protect code and visual aspects.  A good trademark can engender considerable interest in a product also, garnering good will and market share, which, of course, is music to a shark.