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Wednesday, April 23 2014 @ 06:58 PM CDT

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Senate Holds Hearing on "Standards Essential Patents"

Intellectual property Rights

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If you've been following the ongoing mobile operating system wars between companies like Motorola Mobility, Apple, Google and Samsung, you may recall that the biggest hammer a patent owner can wield is to prevent a competitor from selling a product.  In the regular courts, this is achieved by pbtaining an injunction, which is a court order that bars such sales from occurring.  In this situation, the patent owner claims that it can't be adequately compensated after the fact by damages.

But the US courts haven't been favorable to this approach since a key Supreme Court ruling in 2006, leading companies to seek an alternate route to a similar result: a judgment by the International Trade Commission (ITC), barring the competitor from importing any product into the U.S. that infringes on the patent.  If that patent is essential for implementing a standard that is, in turn, essential to performing the device's function, then you've effectively barred its competitor from being a competitor at all - at least in the U.S.

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EU Clears Way to Use Consortium Standards

General News

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While the decade long debate in the European Union over the definition of “open standards” has been well-publicized, it may come as a surprise to some that EU member nations are required to utilize a second standards filter in public procurement as well. 
 

That filter relates to whether a standard has been developed by a “formal” standard setting organization (SSO).  In other words, by either an EU SSO, such as CEN/CENELEC or ETSI, or by one of the global “Big Is” (ISO, IEC or ITU).  If it doesn’t, then it’s supposed to be off limits - until now.

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U.S. Role in Stuxnet Attack Revealed

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

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Courtesy of Makki98, Wikimedia Commons, GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 or laterEver since the Stuxnet worm was first discovered in the wild by cybersecurity experts, the world has wondered who had developed the worm, and why.  Once it became known the primary target of the worm was Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility, suspicion immediately formed around Israeli and/or U.S. involvement. 

Now, a stunning article in this morning’s New York Times recounts in surprising detail the origins of the cyber weaponry development and deployment program – code named Olympic Games – launched under President George W. Bush, and continued under the administration of Barack Obama.  The article is based on a book to be published by Crowne on Tuesday, titled Confront and Conceal: Obama’s Secret Wars and Surprising Use of American Power,” to be published by Crown on Tuesday.
 
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Flame and DuQu: Precursors to “Weapons of Mass Cyber Destruction?”

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

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The BADGER explosion on April 18, 1953, as part of Operation Upshot-Knothole, at the Nevada Test Site.. courtesy of Conscious at the Wikimedia CommonsUp until now, the ultra-sophisticated Stuxnet computer worm has held pride of place as the most impressive cyber weapon known to have been launched against an international opponent. Unlike the usual criminal attack, which usually takes a shotgun approach to exploit common weaknesses, the Stuxnet worm demonstrated the type of exceptionally convoluted access and attack plan that a fiction writer might well admire.
 
Happily, while the number of garden variety cyber attacks continues to rise, malware with the sophistication of Stuxnet has been extremely rare.  Recently, though, two new programs have been uncovered that appear to equal or exceed the complexity of Stuxnet.  And that's not good.
 
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Adventures in Self-Publishing: The Electric Kool-Aid Book Promotion Test

Adventures in Self-Publishing

 

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It’s been awhile since I last provided an update on my adventures in book self-publishing, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been busy. Quite the contrary – I’ve been as busy as ever. That said, the questions for me are the same as for you: where exactly have I been, and where should I go next?
 
The reason for such uncertainty is this: what I’ve found is that trying to self-promote a book is the ultimate exercise in pushing a string: no matter how much effort you put into it, your ability to achieve the desired result is extremely slight. Matter of fact, your ability to do more is, in all likelihood, close to nil.
 
But what the hey. One reason I started this site, this blog, and my law firm, was to see how things work, and what I could achieve. This has been especially interesting in the case of my Internet-based efforts, since the Webscape continues to evolve rapidly, and there’s no substitute for trying things out yourself and seeing what works best.
 
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Life Imitates Art in Pyongyang and Washington

Alexandria Project (a Cyber Thriller)

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In an interesting example of life imitating art, the events unfolding in North Korea this week are directly paralleling those that I envisioned in my book, The Alexandria Project. Specifically, if you’ve been watching the news, the North Koreans intend to launch a new, three stage missile which they say is intended to put a communications satellite into orbit.  

This is placing other countries in an uncomfortable position, as the same launch system, if it proves to be viable, could be used to deliver nuclear weapons to distant targets – including the United States.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing: Google Pulls the Plug on its Indie Bookstore Reseller Program

Adventures in Self-Publishing

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In a blow to diversity and independence in book publishing and distribution, Google announced yesterday that it will discontinue its partnering portal with independent bookstores next January (reproduced in full at the end of this blog entry). Despite the fact that the program was only six months old and had already signed up 16 reseller partners around the world, representing thousands of bookstores, Google concluded that the reseller program “had not gained the traction that we hoped it would.” 

The impetus for the unusually rapid decision may presumably be found in Google’s announcement on Tuesday that it will combine all of its currently separate, media-specific storefronts (e.g., books, apps, etc.) into the single iTunes-like outlet it calls Google Play.
 
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The Global Knock-on Effects of China’s Home-Grown Standards Preferences

China

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Forbidden City Imperial Guardian Lions, Courtesy of Allen Timothy Chang/Wikimedia Commons - GNU Free Documentation License 1.2 +For years now, China has annually invested hundreds of millions of dollars in developing and implementing a sophisticated IT standards strategy. That strategy is intended to advance a variety of national interests, most obviously to enable Chinese manufacturers to retain a larger share of domestic market sales, and gain a larger and higher margin share of global sales.  But there are other motivations at work as well, one of which ensuring that Chinese authorities can keep a close watch on the Chinese people. 

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The Lafayette Deception, Chap. 13: What Goes Around (can come back and bite you)

Lafayette Deception (a Cyber Thriller)

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Westfälisches Museum für Naturkunde (Münster), feathered headdress of the Sioux - Courtesy Wikimedia Commons/GNU Free Documentation LicenseFirst the engine of the minibus died, and then the lights. In the sudden darkness, Frank’s light-bedazzled eyes could see nothing, leaving him temporarily immobilized. He heard the door to the VW open and close quietly. And then, a quiet voice from a shadowy figure by his side.
“Hello, Frank. How have you been?”
“Fine. And you?”
He heard a familiar, musical laugh. “I suppose I have some explaining to do, yes?”
“Yes, Josette, I suppose you do.”

 

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Adventures in Self-Publishing, Chap. 13: The Future of Writing and Publishing

Adventures in Self-Publishing

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Wiki Wine Bottle, courtesy Nevit Dilmen/Wikimedia CommonsAbout two weeks ago I interrupted my current cybersecurity thriller series to post an essay I titled Intermission: The High Cost of Free. It could as easily have been posted as part of this series, but I wanted to make a point to the readers of that series. If you’re planning on self-publishing a book and haven’t read that piece yet, I believe that it would be worth your while to do so.

That post generated some interesting responses, some appearing as public comments and others arriving by email.  Two struck me as being particularly relevant to this series, because they suggest the goal posts between which the future of writing and publishing is likely to lie.