CSE4317 Individual Presentation Topics

Intellectual-Property Issues [Bowyer, Chapter 8]

  1. Reexamination of the Compton multimedia patent. An example sometimes cited to show how badly the patent procedure works with respect to software inventions is the Compton multimedia patent. However, this patent was in fact reexamined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after complaints from the software industry (see references below). Report on this patent - what it first covered, why it was reexamined, and what it covered after reexamination. [Additional Assignment #2, page 285, Bowyer, 2nd edition.]

    I. H. Donner, "Is the patent office correctly examining computer-related patents?" Part 1, Computer, pp. 78-79, December 1994.

    I. H. Donner, "Is the patent office correctly examining computer-related patents?" Part 2, Computer, pp. 93-94, January 1995.

  2. The E-data patent dispute. In 1985 a patent was awarded to Charles Freeny. The patent right eventually came to be owned by E-data Corporation. E-data claimed that this patent gave them the rights to basic elements of electronic commerce, and sent letters to a number of companies asserting rights and demanding royalties. Report on the claims made in the original patent, the claims asserted by E-data and the eventual resolution of this incident. [Additional Assignment #3, page 285, Bowyer, 2nd edition.]

  3. The Vermont Microsystems versus Autodesk trade secret dispute. Vermont Microsystems was a small company that made products that work with other products sold by the much larger company Autodesk. A key employee at Vermont Microsystems left to join Autodesk. Autodesk then came out with their own version of the product sold by Vermont Microsystems. This led to a trial in which Autodesk was convicted of misappropriating trade secrets. Report on the specifics of the incident and the effect on Vermont Microsystems. [Additional Assignment #5, page 285, Bowyer, 2nd edition.]

  4. Disputes over ownership of domain names. The reprint "Trademarks and potholes on the superhighway" (Larry Graham, IEEE Software, Vol. 16, No. 5, pp. 19-21, September/October 1999) addresses the problem of disputed ownership of domain names such as www.amazon.com. Report on this problem in general, and on the current legal status of the problems of linking and framing specifically. [Additional Assignment #6, page 285, Bowyer, 2nd edition.]

  5. Intel workers indicted in alleged software piracy ring. In May 2000 a federal grand jury in Chicago indicted 17 people, including several Intel employees, a former Microsoft employee and two Europeans, for allegedly infringing the copyright on more than 5,000 computer software programs. Of those indicted, 12 were allegedly members of the group known as "Pirates with Attitudes" (PWA), a software piracy ring that was infiltrated by government investigators. last year. Report on the details of this incident and the outcome of the trial.

  6. Copyright infringement and napster.com. The music-sharing service facilitated by napster.com has been challenged by numerous copyright infringement lawsuits from musicians and record companies. Report on the napster controversy from all sides of the argument and the current status of the lawsuits.

  7. Microsoft patent and copyright infringement. Microsoft's use of its own and others' patented and copyrighted material has been under scrutiny for some time, especially during the recent antitrust suit. One example is Microsoft's use of Sun Microsystem's Java technology, which Sun alleges is an infringement of Sun's copyright and license agreement. Report on this and other incidents related to Microsoft's questionable use of patents and copyrights.