January 02, 2002

Peter Wiggin has just published his first O'Reilly Weblog: You'll shoot your iBook out!.

I too, have just bought an iBook (an old one, not even a new hi falootin' one) and I just love it.

January 01, 2002

Carl S. Kaplan has written a nice piece for the New York Times polling six prominent law experts about cyberlaw in the year 2001: The Year in Internet Law.

December 31, 2001

Now's the time to plan ahead for your hangover remedies!

It just doesn't make sense to not put such good advice to use!

Oh drat! They don't really work. (Thanks Cory and Fark.)

Here's a Wired News interview with Barry Steinhardt, associate director of the ACLU and former president of the Electronic Frontier Foundation:
ACLU Exec Voices Concerns, by Ben Polen.

Is the entertainment industry seriously going to start suing its customers over the same minor acts of piracy it has traditionally condoned for years (making mix tapes for your friends)? Only time will tell.

For the time being, the entertainment industry will continue to use the threat of prosecuting consumers as part of their pitch to sell Congress on the need for hardware with built-in security mechanisms. (Enter the dreaded SSSCA - Security Systems Standards and Certification Act...)

See the NY Times article by Amy Harmon:
Online Piracy Fight: Next Up, Consumers

Here's a useful article about how to make your weblog more accessible:
Weblog Accessibility, by Andy J. Williams Affleck.

December 30, 2001

Bio-Rad won't license its patent for an instant HIV test because it already controls the market on the lousy tests that take two weeks.

I wonder what other technology that could benefit society isn't being made available to us because some company has decided it can make more money on it later (presumably after more people have been infected with whatever it is a cure for, causing the demand to be higher and the profit margins to be larger).

Open plea to Bio-Rad executives: if you've already cornered the market, why not start phasing in the faster, more accurate tests to all of your existing customers? You can charge more for the tests and the demand for them will go way up because people won't have to deal with the hassle of coming back to get the results. You can still make a fortune, and you'll get to be the good guys for a change. -- Time to make money and help the world...

See:
Patent owners stall fast HIV test: Long wait for results cuts effectiveness in fighting disease,
by Geeta Anand for the Wall St. Journal.

"...simple, fast HIV tests, which are commonly used in dozens of other countries, aren’t available in the U.S. The reason: a patent granted over a decade ago on a rare form of the virus. The company that controls the patent, the big diagnostic-products maker Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc., has been approached by several small companies seeking licensing rights to sell their fast HIV tests here. Bio-Rad refused. Bio-Rad did sell some licensing rights to three big companies, but those companies don’t sell easy-to-use tests in the U.S.

Critics at the CDC and the military say Bio-Rad and its three big U.S. licensees — Abbott Laboratories Inc., Chiron Corp. and Johnson & Johnson — have little incentive to sell a rapid test domestically because they already dominate the $200 million U.S. market for the slower, lab-based HIV tests. Abbott, in particular, is the biggest U.S. seller of the slower tests. Quick tests would require the companies to conduct expensive clinical trials, and would likely siphon off sales of slower tests, the critics say.

“They have, in effect, locked everyone out of the U.S. market,” says Nelson Michael, chief of molecular diagnostics at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, the U.S. military’s medical-research center. Bernard Branson, the CDC’s epidemiologist in charge of HIV diagnostics, says, “I’d call it restraint of trade. It’s a travesty to stand by and allow these tests to languish.”

The CDC earlier this month asked the Department of Justice whether there was reason to initiate an antitrust investigation into the use of the patent by Bio-Rad and its three licensees, according to a person familiar with the situation. It couldn’t be determined whether such an investigation is proceeding, and a Justice Dept. spokeswoman declined to comment.

At Bio-Rad, spokesman John Hertia says the company may have held up the marketing of rapid HIV tests in the U.S., but he says “it’s common in diagnostics to use your intellectual property strategically.” He says licensing the virus freely would diminish the value of Bio-Rad’s patent, both for Bio-Rad itself and for its existing licensees. “We want to be a global leader in blood-virus testing,” he says. Abbott, Chiron and Johnson & Johnson all say they don’t unfairly use their patent rights to protect their existing products.