Reforming Reform: Why We Must Take A Step Back Before Moving Forward – by “Kate H”

The ensuing outcry following recent news about the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) between countries like the United States, Japan, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, New Zealand, and United Arab Emirates demonstrates just how relevant copyright reform is today. Proposed systems like the 2003 Public Domain Enhancement Act offer steps in the right direction. For example, the PDEA would require copyright owners to pay a $1 renewal fee fifty years after the work is first published, and another $1 every ten years afterwards until the end of the copyright term if he wished to retain the copyright over his work. Otherwise, the work would automatically fall into the public domain. I posit that such a system would be a good step, as it would, at least in theory, encourage copyright holders to consider the value of their work, if holding the exclusive right to a commercially unviable work is really worth restricting others’ use of the work. It would also serve to identify which works are protected, and provide information on how to contact copyright owners– which would serve copyright owners’ interests, as parties wishing to pay for the use of a work would be able to find them.

I'd love to be able to contact these guys...

But while small steps measures like the PDEA are necessary and international trade agreements like ACTA are inevitable, we have larger debates to consider. How can we reconcile technologies like YouTube’s Content ID system with current copyright laws regarding fair use? When YouTube removed hundreds of Hitler “Downfall” videos yesterday, it relied on an algorithm to identify the use of a copyrighted work, but did not bother to identify whether any illegal activity had actually transpired. Now the burden is on the remixers to dispute the takedown. The Public Domain Enhancement Act would do nothing to prevent this detrimental behavior from happening.

And what about deciding which types of works deserve copyright protection? In Pamela Samuelson’s “Preliminary Thoughts on Copyright,” she mentions that in the past, people have been reluctant to make rulings on emerging copyright issues because they don’t know how the technology will develop. She notes that in a 1965 hearing, one man decided “it would be a mistake, in trying to deal with such a new and evolving field as that of computer technology to include an explicit provision [on computer-related uses] that could later turn out to be too broad or too narrow.” Making decisions on emerging and new forms of works can be nearly impossible, especially with the influence of industry (or not) lobbying for certain results. But what about works that have been around forever and have never achieved a definitive ruling. Consider fashion, for example.

Stripes!

Currently, there is no copyright protection for fashion, and certainly many designers consider their work worthy of the same protections afforded to architecture, which is protected under current law. In 2006, Congressman Bob Goodlatte introduced the Design Piracy Prohibition Act (DPPA), which would create a three-year copyright for fashion designs, and would arguably work to counteract counterfeiting in the industry. Producing a popular design requires a lot of effort and money and it is relatively easy for another designer to swoop in and recreate a successful item. While the industry has shunned such actions (see a recent New York Times blog post about this subject and other opinions) arguably, fashion designers would be spurred to innovate just because the fashion cycle turns so quickly, and new designs are always in demand. (Summer clothes just don’t work so well in winter…) Also, while the act would serve to protect the big players in the fashion world, indie designers would not have the legal resources to ensure that every one of their designs was not “closely and substantially similar” to an earlier work, and would be susceptible to legal intimidation that could prevent them for designing anything at all. For fashion, copyright would just harm the industry, waste resources, and provide no additional incentives.

That’s exactly the big picture issues we must consider now. The way we consume movies, books, podcasts, blog posts, news reports, songs, games, and other copyrighted works is changing rapidly, perhaps in the direction of the fashion industry. In many realms, we value most highly first responders and creativity, and the first responders actually serve to benefit from the dissemination of their ideas, or derivative works. We still throw around the statistic that only two percent of works between 55 and 75 years old continue to retain commercial value, but as we create more and more with new incentives (see the upcoming project on reputation economies) this no longer represents the truth. What percentage of Twitter posts retain commercial value even two days later? (Did you hear that Michael Jackson died?) What percentage of newspaper articles retain commercial value after a couple of months? We must reconsider the fundamental way we wish to protect these works. Before we can even work towards change, we must figure out what we want.

Bring your own camera to Canada – by “Heather R”

Earlier in the semester we read about the numerous extensions of copyright term in the twentieth century.  Often the reasoning for the extensions centered around compliance with some international standard.  The term was extended because otherwise “American artists would be at a disadvantage”.  That reasoning seemed strange to me, but I wrote it off as a rationalization for a decision that was motivated by thinly masked corporate interests.  Then predictions and leaks about ACTA started circulating, and it all got even more confusing.  Sense when did copyright enforcement require international cooperation and coordination?  I guess copyright is an issue with international scope, but it doesn’t seem like something that should be internationally enforced.  As a gut reaction, copyright just didn’t seem like an issue to be handled by a treaty.  An international summit did not seem like the appropriate venue to determine copyright policy that would be applied in the United States.  It felt strange to me, but I couldn’t really articulate why.

Then I read Lawrence Lessig and Jack Goldsmith’s article in the Washington Post, “Anti-counterfeiting agreement raises constitutional concerns”.  While reading that article I felt like a short kid standing behind a slightly taller and more articulate kid interjecting “Yeah, yeah, what he said” after each point the tall kid made.  Apparently there was a reason why I felt strange about ACTA: it’s enforcement would (possibly) be unconstitutional.  According to Lessig and Goldsmith, sole executive agreements have historically been used very rarely and for very specific purposes, and mandating copyright policies is not one of them.

Aside from the potential unconstitutionality of a sole executive order pertaining to intellectual property, intellectual property policy does not seem like a subject that is appropriate for international discussion.  It’s property law.  Copyright isn’t a human rights issue, it’s not something that has a “right answer” and “wrong answer”, there’s no good and evil.  Intellectual property is an abstract form of property that our government decided to protect in order to incentivize creation.  Even if you assume that every country wants to incentivize creation, not every country will agree on the most productive way to do that.  It’s nothing but strategy.  This means that even countries that share similar core beliefs may have different notions of how to protect intellectual property.  In Canada, for instance, there are special copyright rules for photography.  In Canada, the copyright of a photograph is owned by the person who . . . owns the camera? What?

This is a strange law, but is somewhat understandable considering the abstract nature of intellectual property.  There are no objectively right answers, so how can we internationally agree on one single policy?

PDEA: The First Step to Copyright Reform? – by “Avi S”

From the start of this course we noted the difficulties involved in applying copyright law to the digital age. Computers, the internet, and technology have created challenges and dilemmas that go far beyond what the writers of copyright laws could have envisioned. These laws were created in a pre-digital era before notions of remix culture or Google Book searches. Additionally, there are some 20 amendments to the 1976 Act which have added to the complexities and ambiguities of copyright law. As such, the most controversial topics have been dealt with largely based upon the view of each individual court; in this sense there is a big gap in the legal text in which an individual is subject to the whims of each court’s interpretation of the law. Paul Samuelson views the need for copyright reform as a continuous task: “If one considers, as I do, that the 1976 Act was the product of 1950/1960’s thinking, then a copyright reform process should be well underway, for copyright revision projects have occurred roughly every 40 years in the U.S.” Yet Samuelson correctly acknowledges the difficulty of arriving at this reform in practice.

Expansion of US Copyright Law

A bigger debate within copyright law is the issue of duration of copyrights. Earlier in the semester we read Mark Helprin’s article A Great Idea Lives Forever: Shouldn’t Its Copyright in which Helprin argues for preventing copyright works from ever entering the public domain. Yet as we discussed, Helprin’s viewpoint is in the extreme and contradicts the very essence of copyright and intellectual property law. As James Boyle explained: “Intellectual property is also supposed to create a feedback mechanism that dictates the contours of information and innovation production.” Thus, when interpreting or considering reform of copyright law one must recall the Framer’s intent “to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts.”

Framers of the US Constitution

Now with this background, it is easier to analyze potential modifications of the duration aspect of copyright. Certain studies have revealed that a meager 2 percent of works 55 to 75 years old retain any commercial value–yet these works are prohibited from the public domain. This system appears to be in direct contradiction of framer’s intent in which a potential individual/artist is prevented from developing the work further without any loss to the initial creator.

The Public Domain Enhancement Act seeks to remedy this problem. In short, this bill attempts to place more works into the public domain, allowing more people to further innovation and create new works. Under the PDEA, copyright holders must pay a $1 renewal fee fifty works after the work is published and every ten years thereafter until expiration.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that such a tiny fee will deter copyright holders from extending their copyright. Even with no commercial value evident, I would think that a copyright holder would hold on to the rights with hopes of the small chance of an unforeseen future licensing project, or simply out of a desire to retain the rights. Yet, the PDEA maintains that history proves that a great majority of owners will actually pass up on holding the rights and that this nominal fee will do the job. Therefore, the PDEA would thereby pass more works into the public domain. A more important and practical consequence of the PDEA is that it will make it easier to identify and contact copyright owners of works. In the current state, one is liable for infringement for unintentionally violating another’s copyright; yet, it is increasingly difficult to even identify copyright holders without any registry. This aspect of the PDEA seems essential for ensuring that one can locate what works have protected status. Though, I am not sure how useful the works will be fifty years after publication, I believe that they may provide some benefit for innovators. An informative site on the PDEA can be found here.

While the PDEA seems to keep the framer’s intent intact, there are those who argue against passing the bill, particularly companies in the entertainment business. Wikipedia lays out the core argument of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA):

  1. “Congress had already “firmly rejected” the concept of copyright renewal in the Copyright Act of 1976, which eliminated the need for registration and renewal of copyrighted works.
  2. The $1 fee would harm copyright owners, particularly those with large numbers of active and potentially commercially viable works.
  3. The extension fee would encourage copyright restoration, a process that re-asserts copyright over a public domain work that originated outside the US and for which US copyright was not renewed.
  4. The benefits would fail to justify the administrative costs needed to set up and fund a registration system.
  5. The MPAA argues that current law already allows for the creation of derivative works via licensing and release of rights.”

In my opinion, many of these claims lack any real validity. Here’s how I see it:

1-Congress may have “firmly rejected” copyright renewal in 1976, but that was 34 years ago and things have changed. Different times call for different measures.

2- A $1 fee would “harm” copyright holders? Seriously? Even if someone has 1,000 copyrights would $1,000 really “harm” them? Moreover, if they are being harmed they must be losing out on some aspect of retaining the copyright. If they want to keep it, they will likely still be collecting revenue on the work and a $1 payment should not make a difference. At the same time, at least according to the PDEA, $1 may be enough to prevent copyright holding for purposes that harm society and are against the reason for the law itself.

4- The benefits of this system to society will likely outweigh any of the costs of registration. Additionally, a system identifying what copyrights are in place is crucial for viewing what works are copyrighted and helping one contact a copyright holder for licensing purposes. The benefits are enormous; the costs of organizing such a system will be paid off pretty quickly.

5- Sure the law allows for licensing; but with the PDEA, identifying a copyright holder will be much easier. Additionally, the whole point of the PDEA is to increase ability to create derivative works and place works in the public domain at that point. Yes there is the ability to use copyrighted works at the moment, but the PDEA wants to increase those works so as to promote the progress of the arts and sciences.


At the same time, I would hope that the PDEA is just the first step in opening up works to the public domain. It may be more effective, and likely more controversial, if the fee is increased and the fifty year renewal is decreased as well. Either way, the petition to members of Congress can be signed here.

Biotech in Thailand: How patents can change a developing nation. – by “Alexander F”

With the ever-increasing controversy and importance of biotech patents here in the United States, the biotech patent world outside of this country gets forgotten sometimes. While biotech is only one small component of the patent application pool each year in America, there are some nations in the world where Biotech patents are surging ahead as one of the principle patent application types. One important example of a nation such as this is Thailand.

Having only the 33rd largest economy in the world, Thailand has been boasting one of the most robust and explosive biotechnology patent growths of the past decade. These types of patents, which are usually extremely difficult and expensive to develop, have been seen by Thailand’s government as a ticket to becoming a world player with serious international clout and economic influence. Despite the meager economic strength when compared to other biotech powerhouses like the US and Japan, Thailand’s government has encouraged the filing of of biotech patents in Thailand with substantial monetary incentives. Taking some lead from Singapore’s great biotech success, the patent growth in Thailand was initially funded by direct government investment in state-of-the art research facilities to attract foreign researchers and businesses. The attractive facilities, tax incentives, and internationally aligned patent policies soon brought in foreign investment and development.

This shift has been reflected in numerous ways on Thailand. The country now sits third behind the US and Japan in terms of estimated biotech patents, and biotech enjoys a much larger ratio of the overall Thai patent application pool than either of the two leading nations. These patents have been in a wide variety of biotech fields but two of the most striking are agricultural biotech patents, and, of course, drug patents. On the agricultural side, the now great success has been with their genetically modified resistant rice. This helped the Thai agricultural economy expand rapidly and has made Thailand the largest exporter of rice in the world. Beyond this, Thailand is one of only five nations in the world with net food exports. This transformation into an agricultural powerhouse has had a ripple effect by also increasing employment rapidly and consuming land in the nation so that today, over 50% of the arable land in Thailand is used for rice production.

The drug advancements have also been extraordinary in the past few years. Major investments from foreign pharmaceutical corporations have made many of the drug patents be held by foreigners, but thankfully the Thai patent laws graciously allow this especially for biotech patents. The success of the drug patent development came last year, when the World Health Organization approved Thailand as a principle producer of the H1N1 Flu Virus vaccine.

The implications of this success may serve as a lesson, or prediction perhaps, for the future of biotech patent law around the world. In Thailand, a developing nation, the government adjusted and augmented patent law to encourage biotech patent growth. This expensive yet high-value growth, in turn, added substantially to Thailand’s economy and world significance. Other nations in Southeast Asia and further abroad may try to follow suit and encourage patent regulation in manners similarly to Thailand. This could be a new key stepping stone for developing nations to not only harness their natural resources, but also their intellectual ones in order to gain world standing and economic expansion.

While it is unclear if there is an overall causation for the economic growth here to be found in the increased number of biotech patent filings, the correlation is striking. The theoretical power of relatively few biotech patents being able to jump start an agricultural economy en masse is undoubt an exciting prospect for the development of biotech patent law and its influence on the developing world.

OncoMice revisited – by “Merlyn D”

I apologize for the lateness of my post, but I wanted to talk to some scientists about their perspectives on OncoMouse.  Mainly, this is to de-mystify some of the questions that we came up with during class.

A disclaimer: The scientist I interviewed is my father, Chuxia Deng.  He did his postdoc with Phil Leder, who designed the modifications for the OncoMouse.   He is the Chief of Mammalian Genetics at NIH, and develops animal models.  I thought he’d be able to inform us on some of our misconceptions about how patents work in the Biotech industry.

Our discussion on Wednesday focused primarily on whether you can own life forms.  The primary disagreement that all of us have had is that patenting life also means ownership over the progeny of these life forms, which is a problematic distinction because the owner did not independently create these progeny.  And, if profits go toward the owner of these patents, that would seem counter-intuitive promoting scientific innovation.

To delve further into the issue of how the scientific field operates with biotech patents, Dr. Deng said that one further distinction we should make is how patents work differently in the industry and in academia.

The OncoMouse, for example, access to both processes and actual animals do not require a license.  “For scientific research only, you can get it for free,” he said.  But the scientist must state that “he will request the tool to only use in his laboratory and for research purposes only, and it will not be transferred to any third party without your permission.”  The barriers to reaching others’ scientific data are far fewer in the academic industry, as well.  He states, “For academic purposes, there are almost no limitations.  In theory, you are prevented from doing it, but they are not going to hunt down academic institutions, since there are too many.”

But if you’re a for-profit company like Dupont (who owns the patent to OncoMouse), a license is necessary for obtaining legal use of the mouse.  He says, “For profit purposes, you must pay taxes.  You have to pay and buy a license, because you are using it for your own benefit.”

The additional dimension to the discussion helps to address the problems of owning transgenic mice who reproduce (addressed in Logan’s earlier post). Indeed, the beauty of having a patent on life forms is that you cannot curb scientific innovation that scientists control themselves; heterozygote oncomice who mate have progency that are 75% oncomice.

To tie this post back to intellectual property, let us return to the question about the ethics of patenting human genes.  If the spirit of patenting is about stimulating scientific innovation and academic progress benefits from these developments, then is the act of patenting justified?  For example, should it be the scientist who profits from the cultivating the cancerous cell line (HeLa) from a patient (Henrietta Lacks’s picture to the right)?   The trade-off is that for-profit industries must apply for a license in order to profit themselves, but the ethical implications go beyond scientific innovation and begs the question: why should a scientist benefit from what a person was born with?  Is it not her contribution to the scientific world that matters?

A world that disallows scientific patenting would mean the downfall of the private industry. This means that all research and innovation must be funded through the government, which would change the landscape of biotech drastically: no more sex-performance enhancing drugs, but no stem cells, either.

Apple’s Battle for Trademarks: Story of iPhone and iPad – by “Kai C”

Trademark is my favorite component of intellectual property law. Both the conceptual framework and practical implementation have been successful. I am satisfied given the knowledge that when I walk into McDonald’s® I will get quality burgers at bargain price through the dollar-menu and when I go into Starbucks® I expect decent overpriced coffee supplemented by world-class service. Both companies have spent enormous amount of time and effort into developing the company image that they have today. Exclusive trademark protect both the businesses and the customers. Businesses can protect and enjoy the image that they have developed and customers can ensure that the products they are purchasing are ensured by a reliable trademark.

Apple is a perfect example of a company that has heavily invested in the image of its brand and all of its trademark products. For example, with the introduction of the Macintosh computer in 1984, the company spent about a million dollars to develop one of the most famous and influential Super Bowl advertisements in history to promote the Macintosh trademark:

It is clear that Apple’s marketing campaigns have created the company as it is today. The value of that bitten Macintosh apple logo is worth more than the market cap of many mid-size firms. I would argue that without such heavy investment into brand image, Apple cannot possibly sell its products at the prices they offer today.

Currently, Apple holds 185 trademarks covering anything from the Apple logo to iPod family, to Chicago font. The full list of trademarks can be found here: http://www.apple.com/legal/trademark/appletmlist.html

The most notable feature of the Apple product line are that Apple ‘i’ products. Adding the ‘i’ before product name is one of the most phenomenal marketing endeavors. Apple currently holds 23 trademarks that follow this feature. The ‘i’ product line serves two important roles. The ‘i’ automatically signifies that the product is guaranteed to be of good value under the Apple name. In addition, Apple tends to add a generic name after the ‘i’, such as iTunes, iPhone, and iPhoto. This method helps consumers to easily identify the product functionality. In comparison, the Zune and the Android do not have names that indicate the products’ function. (The Zune is Microsoft MP3 player and the Android is a Google phone platform).

Now, the problem arises when Apple wants to introduce a new product line under the ‘i’ series when the name has already been taken! In fact, that has happened to two of Apple’s most important products: the iPhone and the iPad.

Steve Jobs announced release of the iPhone in January of 2007, however, the iPhone trademark was already owned by Cisco. Cisco bought a company called Infogear Technology, which had developed a product that combined web access and telephone called the iPhone in 2000. Shortly after Apple’s iPhone was announced, Cisco filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against Apple. Cisco claimed that the trademark lawsuit was a “minor skirmish that was not about money, but about interoperability.” The two companies soon reached an agreement in February that allowed both companies to use the iPhone name in exchange for interoperability between their security, consumer, and business communication products.

Cisco iPhone vs. Apple iPhone

A similar case of trademark overlap occurred to Apple’s recent announcement of the iPad. Despite the controversial name that resembles a product used by majority of the female population, the name was already registered by Fujitsu in 2003. Fujitsu’s iPad is a handheld scanner for retailers that has Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and VoIP support. In this case, Fujitsu agreed to cede the trademark to Apple after an undisclosed agreement has been reached in March.

Fujitsu iPad vs. Apple iPad

The cases of iPhone and iPad shade light upon an interesting topic of dispute in trademark law. Strict interpretation of trademark law would have prevented Apple from taking on the trademark names iPhone and iPad, which would have damaged the company’s branding effort for past decades. Some would argue that Cisco and Fujitsu were more or less lucky to have owned the trademarks and have benefited handsomely from it. On one hand, the names iPhone and iPad were not very valuable before Apple decided to use those names. Neither Cisco nor Fujitsu made visible attempts to glorify their trademark. Cisco’s lawsuit and bid for interoperability and Fujitsu’s disclosed settlement (which I assume meant some form of benefit offered to Fujitsu) were used as leverage to use an asset that they did not create. Yet, according to trademark law, as long as the products still exist and that the companies pay periodic fees, the trademarks should remain with the first registrar. And it sounds fair that trademarks should be given on a first-come-first-served basis instead of who-can-get-most-famous rubric.

My personal take on these two cases is that Cisco and Fujitsu have all the right to grab whatever Apple is willing to offer to sell their trademarks. They should be compensated for sharing or ceding the trademarks they legally own. And if Apple cannot offer what they expect, then they should have the right to retain their exclusive trademarks. Indeed, they are lucky that they are receiving benefits that they obtained through pure luck. But the rightful owner of a property should have the right to enjoy unexpected value increase. However, I can see convincing arguments from both sides. Legally, the opposing view has no potential to achieve substantial success. It would need to come down to a moral argument for the trademark holders.

Just to end on an interesting note, somewhat related to the topic of Apple trademarks: Perhaps Apple needs to be more aware of market potential of ‘i’ series.

http://stewdio.org/iquit/

The power of a trademark: Why the internet shouldn’t change trademark rules – by “Sebastian P”

The trademark is a powerful tool that although has drawn some ire, continues to be a legitimate way to hold the right to an image or theme through an extended period of time. Before we can even evaluate trademarks however, we must first realize what their original intention was for.

Trademarks have existed as a way to prevent confusion between brands. So that companies have control of what their own image is, trademarks work as a means of preventing others from infringing on their brand.  It makes logical sense that people will want to protect the products of their time and energy. The idea pretty much makes the same amount of sense as it did when the idea first came up… back in the 14th century.

Flash forward nearly 700 years. What do we make of trademarks today? Well, in the modern and digital age, now more than ever, trademarks play an important role in brand management. With the ever growing spread of information and pictures throughout the world, it becomes imperative that companies protect their own image when necessary. Now although not all of what these companies do may seem right, the protection of an image and its brand are a necessity for companies (existing and future ones) to have peace of mind in spreading the brand.

Those who disagree will point out the loss of one of Facebook’s most popular games of all time. The now defunct Scrabulous.

For many, Scrabulous was trademark rearing its ugly head. However, all will admit that scrabulous was a clear ripoff of Scrabble.

Was the style of the block the same? Yup. How about the board positioning? Definitely. The value of the letters? Of course. The color of the double up and triple value squares? All of the same.

Now, don’t get me wrong. When Scrabulous was around, it was an amazingly fun game to play while procrastinating homework. However, few if any will disagree that individuals, not of the Scrabble name (said: Hasbro) profited heavily from a product that was not theirs. With all of the blatant use of what Scrabble was, it was only a matter of time Scrabulous was shut down. Many argue that Scrabulous renewed interest in Scrabble, that it sold more product than had been sold in the many decades since it was first released. Just because a product increases the popularity, doesn’t mean that the unauthorized use of the brand is any better. Although Scrabulous looked, felt, and seemed the same as Scrabble, it wasn’t Scrabble. Hasbro had a problem with that and with good reason. Left to its own vices, Scrabulous could have changed Scrabble in ways Hasbro didn’t want to deal with. A brand is an image that gains value from what it represents. When the item for which it represents fragments, there arises problems.

Don’t believe me? Let’s check out the real world to see a similar phenomenon of trademark violations.

These are Nike Hyperdunks. A shoe head’s dream kicks (Translated: An enthusiastic shoe collector’s valuable pair of shoes). These retail for about $100 USD, but further on in its lifecycle, they will retail for a lot more than one Benjamin. As you can tell in the picture, they look awesome, fit very well, are extremely light for their design, and if Kobe Bryant is to be believed, allow you to jump over a speeding Aston Martin.

Oh, the best part of the shoes you just saw in that picture are that they are fake. 100% authentic made in china ripoffs. These are the real Hyperdunks:

These are the real ones

Can you tell the difference? Not many, if any can. They look the same, feel the same, smell the same, and seem to function the same, but they’re not the same. The weighting is different, the support technology different, and apparently they “feel different” (my brother’s words, not mine). However, to the unsuspecting buyer who’ll probably buy this pair of shoes at a “great” deal for $40 dollars on eBay, they might as well be the same Nike hyperdunks they saw advertised. This shoe represents what Nike trademarked: it’s brand, it’s image, and its product. The nearly identical ripoff represents degradation to all three of those aspects. And so, the discounted shoes not only discount the quality of the merchandise, but then charge the discount to Nike’s reputation tab.

Now, I’m not saying that all copies are as blatantly terrible. Scrabulous functioned well and for all intents and purposes, was Scrabble. Hasbro, however, had every right to get rid of Scrabulous as it could have very well misrepresented its brand (as it did when it was buggy in the beginning). To draw from the loss of Scrabulous that trademarks are a cancer in this society is ridiculous. Trademarks are one of the few things that actually seem to work in the digital age. Why fix a relatively working thing when there are other terribly broken things to fix (*cough* copyright, DMCA, net neutrality, patents…)?

-Sebastian