School Starts Today!

Today is the first day of school.  As a side activity I teach a class at one of the local law schools to help young attorneys (hopefully) get employed.  So I thought that I should take this opportunity to try and teach a little basic astronomy at the same time.

The first thing you need is a desire to learn.  With that you can do anything.  The main instrument used by most amateur astronomers is a telescope.

There are two basic kinds of telescopes: a reflector and a refractor.

A refractor is the “spyglass” type of telescope with a large lens at one end (the objective lens) and an eyepiece at the other end.  The objective lens gathers all the light and focuses it at a point.  The eyepiece provides the magnification so you can see the object you are looking at in the night sky.

A reflector, as the name implies, uses mirrors to gather and focus the light to a point and an eyepiece to magnify the image.

Reflectors can be much larger than refractors.  Due to the physical properties of glass, the largest a refractor can be is 40 inches in diameter.  After that the glass will start to deform under its own weight and distort the image.  A reflector can be much, much larger.  Current plans for a 30 meter telescope (and larger) are in the planning and constructions phases right now.

One of the questions that gets asked most by beginning astronomers is which type of telescope should I buy?  My answer is always – binoculars.  A good pair of binoculars will allow you to look at the night sky very inexpensively will you visit your local astronomy group and figure out the kind of telescope that you would like to purchase.  Each type has advantages and disadvantages, so it all depends upon what you want to do as to which telescope you should get.  The best way is to try them out and ask questions at a star party.  Besides being loads of fun, everyone at the star party with a telescope will have lots of good information for you.  So shop around before you settle on your first scope.

P.S. the book at the beginning of the post is also available for purchase at the usual places if you are in a hurry to learn about astronomy.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Mid-Year Recap of the Top IP Cases to Watch for 2013

Overall, 2013 is shaping up to be a big year in intellectual property law. There are several key cases to watch in the areas of trademark, copyright, and patent law.

Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.: The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to delve back into the scope of patentable subject matter, as it applies to medical genetics. The primary question before the Supreme Court is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that are ineligible for patent protection or products of human intervention and ingenuity.

The result is: genes are a product of nature and cannot be patented.

Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons: This copyright infringement case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012, but a decision will be issued in 2013. The lawsuit addresses the tension between the first-sale doctrine and the Copyright Act’s ban against importing a work without the authority of the copyright owner. While the case involves foreign textbooks made and legally acquired abroad and then imported into the United States, the Supreme Court’s decision is expected to impact the larger, million-dollar “gray market” for goods, upon which companies like Costco and eBay rely.

The result: in a 6-3 decision, the Court held that the first-sale doctrine applies to copies of copyrighted works lawfully made abroad.

American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo: New technology will continue to test the limits of the Copyright Act in 2013. The Second Circuit is poised to decide whether start-up company, Aereo, has infringed the copyrights of networks, including ABC and Fox Television, by taking broadcast television signals and retransmitting them over the Internet to its subscribers. Because the decision could shake up how consumers get their television, the media and technology industries are closely watching the case.

Currently:  Aereo 2, ABC 0, waiting for the Court to decide.

Apple v. Samsung: The ongoing litigation between Apple and Samsung is just one example of the so-called “software patent wars” that dominated 2012. With lawsuits still pending in California and across the globe, the two tech giants will likely continue to dominate legal headlines.

Currently: Bickering back and forth enough to annoy the judge in the case.  Likely not to go to trial this year.  Samsung has asked for a new trial due to problems with the original trial which could make cell phones obsolete before these two get a verdict.

In addition to these cases, there are a number of regulatory changes in the works, most notably the official conversion to a first-to-file patent system under the America Invents Act.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help with any Intellectual Property issue, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just advice regarding how best to protect your ideas and your brand, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Will Broadcast Television Be Coming To You Through The Internet?

Internet startup Aereo, who’s slogan is “No cable required,” battle against several major broadcasters is now underway.  This  decision could shake up how consumers get their television.  Aereo’s service takes broadcast television signals from New York-area stations and retransmit them over the Internet to Aereo subscribers. The plaintiffs, which include Fox Television, PBS, and ABC, argue that because Aereo has not licensed this television programming, it is committing copyright infringement.

 

Naturally, the broadcasters ask for an injunction.  The request, however,  was shot down by U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan back in July.  The plaintiffs appeal and the case is pending in the Southern District Court of New York.

A lawyer for the broadcasters claims that “Aereo is taking the plaintiffs’ broadcast signals and reprocessing them so they can be streamed over the Internet.  That is a violation of copyright law.”

Aereo contends that its new technology does not constitute copyright infringement because it  provides all its customers with their own set of “rabbit ears” antennas.  The video received by these rabbit ears will be digitally processed, returned to the servers, and finally streamed to users over the Internet. “Consumers are legally entitled to access broadcast television via an antenna and they are entitled to record television content for their personal use,” Aereo has stated.

This case will be interesting to follow. The only existing precedent involves a lawsuit involving a “remote DVR” system created by Cablevision. Similar to Aereo, the DVR was located on a Cablevision server rather than in the customer’s home.

In that case, a federal appeals court ultimately concluded that Cablevision was not liable for copyright infringement because users selected the programs that were recorded and replayed, and Cablevision stored a separate copy of each program for each customer rather streaming one copy to all customers. Many suspect Aereo will make a similar argument.

As you might expect, the media and technology industries are closely watching the case.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help to protect their copyrighted material, I can help you figure out the best, most cost efficient strategy of protection.  Please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation by sending me an email or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman