Ireland Overhauls Patent Rules

Ireland has overhauled its patenting rules to make patent applications more user-friendly and the awarding of patents more in line with US and European standards. The new changes include removing legal impediments to the online delivery of Patent Office services. The Office website already offers a range of online interactive services on a par with  and in some cases, exceeding those provided by other national patent offices in Europe.

Does This (Health Insurance) Make Me Look Fat?

The Volokh Conspiracy looked at a recent paper correlating health insurance and weight gain stating that health insurance constitutes a “true economic subsidy for obesity.” According to the paper, which estimates weight gain in terms of body mass index, a measure of weight related to height, “private insurance increases BMI by 1.3 points and public insurance increases BMI by 2.1 points.” The VC remains unconvinced:

I am both intrigued with and skeptical of papers purporting to find economic-sy rationales underlying cultural and, more exactly, biologically-grounded behaviors (food, eating, hunger, etc.). A quick (granted, very quick) read of the paper suggested that the details and qualifiers make it far more cautious than suggested by statements such as “insurance makes you fat” or that the fact of certain correlations quite so literally “literally encourages obesity.”

VoloMedia Decides It Wants to Be Most Hated Company

VoloMedia announced that it was awarded U.S. Patent 7,568,213, entitled “Method for Providing Episodic Media,” and now claims to have patented all manner of media delivery by episodes.  The patent claims:

1. A method for providing episodic media, the method comprising: providing a user with access to a channel dedicated to episodic media, wherein the episodic media provided over the channel is pre-defined into one or more episodes by a remote publisher of the episodic media; receiving a subscription request to the channel dedicated to the episodic media from the user; automatically downloading updated episodic media associated with the channel dedicated to the episodic media to a computing device associated with the user in accordance with the subscription request upon availability of the updated episodic media, the automatic download occurring without further user interaction; and providing the user with: an indication of a maximum available channel depth, the channel depth indicating a size of episodic media yet to be downloaded from the channel and size of episodic media already downloaded from the channel, the channel depth being specified in playtime or storage resources, and the ability to modify the channel depth by deleting selected episodic media content, thereby overriding the previously configured channel depth.

VoloMedia claims it’s application, filed in November 2003, was “almost a year before the start of podcasting.” Really? That must explain the lack of non-patent cited references.  They helpfully set themselves up for invalidation saying, “Today, podcasting is 100% RSS-based. However, the patent is not RSS-dependent. Rather, [the patent] covers all episodic media downloads.” VoloMedia says it has filed a dozen U.S. patent applications since 2003.  No word on whether or not their patent on the Internets will issue.

NPR Listeners Pick 100 Best Beach Books (For NPR Listeners)

Time Traveler's WifeI know what you’re thinking: “NPR listeners go to the beach?!” We don’t know about that but NPR got 136,000 votes from 16,000 listeners for their top picks for the 100 Best Beach Books Ever. Here’s the top 10:

1. The Harry Potter series, by J.K. Rowling
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
4. Bridget Jones’s Diary, by Helen Fielding
5. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
6. Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, by Rebecca Wells
7. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald
8. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams
9. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, by Fannie Flagg
10. The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

Our pick of The Time Traveler’s Wife, by Audrey Niffenegger just missed the top slot at number 11.  See the whole list here.

Midlevel Associates Sad They Make So Much

The American Lawyer’s annual survey of AmLaw 200 midlevel associates pointed out the obvious:  that cutbacks and uncertainties are making lawyers unhappy. Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, scored well in the pay ranking with the median fourth-year associate earning $215,000, plus a $135,000 bonus. (Note to GC’s: If your lawyers are paying associates this much money, you seriously need to check out the services offered in the Midwest). But there’s no pleasing everyone.  One associate at Boston’s Nutter McClennen & Fish — ranked number one overall — complained: “The firm switched from serving Starbucks coffee to regular, unbranded coffee. As sad as that is, I miss that the most!”  Wait, they got Starbucks?!?!

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