August 31, 2011 nº 1,085 - Vol. 9


"Male parta male dilabuntur."
Ill-gotten gains seldom prosper

Cicero

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  • Top News

UN calls for end to enforced disappearances

The UN called Tuesday for all states to end the "heinous crime" of enforced or involuntary disappearances. Enforced disappearances refers to the practice of placing people in secret detentions for weeks or months without ever being brought before a judge. Some victims of the practice say they were tortured during their detainment.

The myth of the sole inventor

The theory of patent law is based on the idea that a lone genius can solve problems that stump the experts, and that the lone genius will do so only if properly incented. We deny patents on inventions that are "obvious" to ordinarily innovative scientists in the field. Our goal is to encourage extraordinary inventions – those that we wouldn't expect to get without the incentive of a patent.

The canonical story of the lone genius inventor is largely a myth. Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he found a bamboo fiber that worked better as a filament in the light bulb developed by Sawyer and Man, who in turn built on lighting work done by others. Bell filed for his telephone patent on the very same day as an independent inventor, Elisha Gray; the case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which filled an entire volume of U.S. Reports resolving the question of whether Bell could have a patent despite the fact that he hadn’t actually gotten the invention to work at the time he filed. The Wright Brothers were the first to fly at Kitty Hawk, but their plane didn’t work very well, and was quickly surpassed by aircraft built by Glenn Curtis and others – planes that the Wrights delayed by over a decade with patent lawsuits.

The point can be made more general: surveys of hundreds of significant new technologies show that almost all of them are invented simultaneously or nearly simultaneously by two or more teams working independently of each other. Invention appears in significant part to be a social, not an individual, phenomenon. Inventors build on the work of those who came before, and new ideas are often "in the air," or result from changes in market demand or the availability of new or cheaper starting materials. And in the few circumstances where that is not true – where inventions truly are "singletons" – it is often because of an accident or error in the experiment rather than a conscious effort to invent.

The result is a real problem for classic theories of patent law. If we are supposed to be encouraging only inventions that others in the field couldn't have made, we should be paying a lot more attention than we currently do to simultaneous invention. We should issuing very few patents – surely not the 200,000 per year we do today. And we should be denying patents on the vast majority of the most important inventions, since most seem to involve near-simultaneous invention. Put simply, our dominant theory of patent law doesn't seem to explain the way we actually implement that law.

Maybe the problem is not with our current patent law, but with our current patent theory. But the dominant alternative theories of patent law don't do much better. Prospect theory – under which we give patents early to one company so it can control research and development – makes little sense in a world in which ideas are in the air, likely to be happened upon by numerous inventors at about the same time. And commercialization theory, which hypothesizes that we grant patents in order to encourage not invention but product development, seems to founder on a related historical fact: most first inventors turn out to be lousy commercializers who end up delaying implementation of the invention by exercising their rights.

If patent law in its current form can be saved, we need an alternative justification for granting patents even in circumstances of near-simultaneous invention. I consider two other possibilities. First, patent rights encourage patent races, and that might actually be a good thing. Second, patents might facilitate markets for technology. Both have some logic to them, but neither fully justifies patent law in its current form. As a result, I offer some suggestions for reforming patent law to take account of the prevalence of simultaneous invention.

Source: Mark A. Lemley, Stanford Public Law Working Paper No. 1856610, July 2011.


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  • Crumbs

1 - Sarkozy's office denies report of Bettencourt cash - click here.

2 - The case of the $755bn lawsuit against Brazil - click here.

3 - Greece will proceed with name-and-shame treatment for tax dodgers - click here.

4 - Obama uncle Onyango Obama arrested for 'drink-driving' - click here.

5 - Akin Gump signs pharma giant Novartis - click here.

6 - 'Friends of Libya' to meet in Paris to secure rebel victory - click here.

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  • MiMIC Journal

Fitch warns it may downgrade China's yuan debt rating

Credit ratings agency Fitch has warned that it may cut China's yuan debt rating on concerns of rising defaults. Fitch's current rating for China's yuan-denominated debt stands at AA-. The warning comes after Fitch revised its outlook on China's local currency debt from "stable" to "negative" in April this year. There have been growing concerns of bad loans in China after the nation's banks lent record sums of money in the last two years.

China tycoon in Iceland land bid

A Chinese businessman hopes to buy a large area of Iceland for an eco-resort, sparking concerns about foreign ownership of land. While the purchase has been approved by the local landlords, officials said Huang had yet to apply for an exemption from laws barring non-EU nationals from buying land.

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  • Historia Verdadera

Exxon

La petrolera canadiense Americas Petrogas dijo que ExxonMobil invertirá unos US$ 76,3 mlls para explorar y explotar sus activos de petróleo y gas esquisto en Argentina a través de un acuerdo de subcontratación.

Chile – Tailandia

Chile y Tailandia finalizaron la III ronda de negociaciones para establecer un TLC - Tratado de Libre Comercio que pretende lograr rebajas arancelarias para las exportaciones bilaterales y reducir barreras técnicas al comercio.

Sentencia

Siete de los funcionarios del Gobierno del ex presidente boliviano Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada fueron condenados el martes en un juicio por genocidio, una sentencia que abre la puerta a otro intento de extradición desde Estados Unidos del entonces mandatario.

  • Brief News

9/11: White House issues remembrance guidelines

The White House has issued guidance to all US officials on how to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11. The plans call for a "positive" and "forward-looking" message with minimum reference to al-Qaeda. "We need to make sure we're speaking to a very broad set of audiences who will be affected by the anniversary." Commemorations should honor victims of global terror, as citizens of over 90 countries were killed.

Charities struggle with smaller Wall Street donations

While the financial industry has slowly returned from crisis, nonprofit groups that depend on its gifts are still hurting.

Jail over Bolivia protest deaths

Bolivia's Supreme Court convicts five senior military officers and two ex-ministers over the killings of 64 people during protests in 2003.

Jewish settlers get army training

Israel says it is training Jewish settlers in the West Bank to repel violent protest ahead of a Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN.

Spain moves closer to deficit cap

Spanish politicians overwhelmingly back holding a vote on introducing a constitutional cap on budget deficits.

Italy drops proposed tax on high earners

The Italian government has dropped plans to introduce a tax on high earners. The "solidarity tax" on those earning more than 90,000 euros was one of several new measures announced earlier this month as the government aims to balance Italy's budget by 2013.

Key parts of Texas sonogram law struck down

A federal judge rules that key parts of a new Texas law which requires women seeking an abortion to have a sonogram are unconstitutional. The ruling said that requiring doctors to describe a foetus' features would violate the First Amendment of the constitution. Judge Sparks said this provision "compels physicians to advance an ideological agenda with which they may not agree, regardless of any medical necessity and irrespective of whether the pregnant women wish to listen".

Vietnam president releases 10,000 prisoners for National Day

president of Vietnam on Monday ordered the release of more than 10,000 prisoners, granting amnesty to commemorate the country's National Day. Although none of the high profile government dissidents was released, the president freed five individuals convicted of national security crimes.

Cambodia genocide tribunal begins fitness hearing

The UN's Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia on Monday began conducting its fitness hearing to prosecute individuals for mass killings and other crimes committed under the Khmer Rouge regime. The hearing will determine whether the defendants are well enough to stand trial.

Kenya swears in first Supreme Court justices

Kenyan Registrar of the High Court Gladys Boss Shollei swore in the nation's first Supreme Court justices on Friday at a ceremony in the capital city Nairobi. The ceremony was attended by President Mwai Kibaki who emphasized the importance of the appointments to the country's ongoing institutional reform.

US 'wasted $30bn on Afghanistan and Iraq' over decade

The US government has wasted $30bn in contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the last decade, according to a bi-partisan spending commission. The commission on wartime contracting blamed an over-reliance on contractors, poor planning and fraud for the waste. It had evidence of lax accountability and inadequate competition, it said.

Judge OKs vote on Lehman bankruptcy plan

Judge James Peck gives creditors vote on the failed bank's $65bn payback proposal, clearing a major hurdle in Lehman's path toward ending the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Singapore to gain as Hong Kong follows China's laws on sovereign immunity

Singapore, which allows sovereign states to be sued on commercial and contractual issues, has opened its legal market to foreign law firms and offered tax incentives in a challenge to Hong Kong for international arbitration business.

AT&T plans to bring back jobs sent abroad

Seeking good will for its $39bn deal to buy T-Mobile USA, the company plans to announce that it will restore 5,000 outsourced call-center jobs. Randall Stephenson, AT&T's chief, hopes to allay some concerns about the T-Mobile deal.

  • Daily Press Review

Gaddafi's son 'ready to surrender'
Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

Damascus bans intellectuals and dissidents from leaving Syria
Asharq Al-Awsat, Pan-Arab daily, London, England

Syria's Assad reforms press law
Egyptian Gazette, English-language, Cairo, Egypt

U.S. bill aims to cut funds to pro-Palestinian UN groups
Haaretz, Liberal daily, Tel Aviv, Israel

In new Egypt, foreign policy not just for diplomats
JPost, Conservative, Jerusalem, Israel

Libya rejects UN military forces
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

U.N. moves to avert humanitarian crisis in Tripoli
CNN International, London, England

Perry now Republicans' front-runner
Daily Express, Conservative tabloid, London, England

Women bosses in their 20s are now paid more than men doing the same jobs
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Kim Kardashian looks devilish in leggy red dress as she stocks up on snack food
Daily Mail, Conservative daily, London, England

Obama: veterans will not pay to balance budget
EuroNews, International news, Ecully Cedex, France

LIBYA: UK to release frozen Libyan assets
France 24, Issy-les-Moulineaux, France

Chechnya: Eight die in suicide bomb attack
Independent The, London, England

Gazprom profits up 44%
Moscow News The, Independent, Moscow, Russia

Ai Weiwei speaks of 'constant nightmare' in first article since detention by Chinese authorities
Telegraph The, Conservative daily, London, England

Move over Myleene: Rosie Huntington Whiteley is the new face of M&S
Telegraph The, Celebrity news, London, England

Libyan rebels set deadline for final battle
Bangkok Post, Independent, Bangkok, Thailand

Libyan rebels demand Algeria return Gadhafi family members
China Post, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

Gov't Must Do More for Victims of Japanese Atrocities
Chosun Ilbo, Conservative daily, Seoul, South Korea

Rebels uncover Gaddafi son's 'James Bond' bunker
Hindustan Times, New Delhi, India

Man goes to jail for raping friend's wife
India Times, Conservative daily, New Delhi, India

Eagles reward Vick with contract worth 100 million
Japan Times, Independent centrist, Tokyo, Japan

Study: US newborn deaths on par with Qatar
New Zealand Herald, Conservative daily, Auckland, New Zealand

Australian FM to attend Libya talks in Paris
People's Daily Online, English-language, Beijing, China

Fires break out at Australian immigration centre
Straits Times, Pro-government, Singapore

120: Sydney's cocky legend
Sydney Morning Herald, Centrist daily, Sydney, Australia

Halladay stars as Phillies smash Reds
Taiwan News, English-language daily, Taipei, Taiwan

US subprime car loans on the rise
The Economic Times, Business, Mumbai, India

John Baird hints at Libyan extension
Canadian Broadcasting Centre, Toronto, Ontario

Who Are Forbes' 10 Most Powerful Women in the World?
International Business Times, Business news organization, New York, U.S

ARGENTINA: Child Allowance Restores Families' Ties with Schools
IPS Latin America, International cooperative of journalists, Rome, Italy

Wall Street gains as Fed minutes boost stimulus bets
Reuters, Business News, New York, U.S

China, Russia rush to rebuild North Korea's transport links
Reuters, World News, New York, U.S

Hurricane Irene helps marriage off to a stormy start
Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario

Libya rejects UN military forces
BBC News, Centrist newscaster, London, England

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