The White House takes on patent trolls and a look at a large coronal hole

June 4, 2013

Here’s what we’re reading/watching today:

1) The White House addressed the patent wars on Tuesday, announcing seven legislative recommendations to Congress and five executive actions — all in an effort “to improve incentives for future innovation in high tech patents.” The president’s Council of Economic Advisers and National Economic Council also released a report, “Patent Assertion and U.S. Innovation,” offering their findings and recommendations on the nature of “patent trolls” (referred to more formally in the report as “patent assertion entities” or PAEs). The report concludes:

“We see three main areas for improvement: clearer patents with a high standard of novelty and non-obviousness, reduced disparity of litigation costs between patent owners and technology users, and greater adaptability of the innovation system to challenges posed by new technologies and new business models.”

The White House, in a release, also highlighted the need for “swift legislative action” on the part of Congress to plug the “drain on the American economy” occurring under the current patent laws. The recommendations center on improving transparency, efficiency and specificity in awarding patents, identifying the patent owner and punishing abusers of the system.

Among the seven executive actions, the administration announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office would begin the process of improving and expanding education, outreach and data analysis to empower those who find themselves on the other end of a patent troll demand letter or infringement suit. The U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator has also been charged with launching an interagency review of the procedures undertaken by Customs and Border Protection and the International Trade Commission in preventing patent-infringing goods from entering the country to make sure they are “are transparent, effective, and efficient.”


An extensive coronal hole rotated towards Earth over several days this week (May 28-31, 2013). (NASA)

2) It’s not the Eye of Sauron, but it’s pretty close. “An extensive coronal hole” can be seen  in this image of the sun composed of three different wavelengths of ultraviolet light. According to NASA, this coronal hole — the largest the agency has seen in “a year or more” — rotated toward the earth during the last four days of March. The hole appears darker because there is less matter present at the temperatures observed. Writes NASA:

“Coronal holes are the source of strong solar wind gusts that carry solar particles out to our magnetosphere and beyond. … Solar wind streams take 2-3 days to travel from the Sun to Earth, and the coronal holes in which they originate are more likely to affect Earth after they have rotated more than halfway around the visible hemisphere of the Sun, which is the case here. They may generate some aurora here on Earth.”

(NASA via Gizmodo)

3) Have you ever dreamed of popping open a bottle of champagne and partying with Richard Branson? Well, you can now bid on the opportunity. The Virgin Group founder and chairman is pledging an invitation to an exclusive party for a fundraising effort for DoSomething.org. And, yes, pitching is not only allowed but, based on the title, encouraged.

4) How is it that celebrities can suddenly wear the mantle of the nerd? Think of those Justins (Timberlake and Beiber) who wear nerdy glasses, or Scrabble lover Anne Hathaway. Victor Hwang asks the question for Forbes and concludes that the rise of the “fake nerd” (or, as he comes around to it, the “new nerd”) is actually a good thing:

“…The good news is that the growth of nerddom is happening because more and more people are recognizing that real value comes from quirky places.  Strange ideas come from strange people.  And all great ideas seemed strange in the beginning.  This means that nerdiness is the raw stuff of innovation, and therefore the genesis of economic value.”

5) Wouldn’t it be awesome (or terrifying) if we could record our dreams? AsapSCIENCE has a video showing that we may be closer than we think to hitting the record button on our dreams:

 

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