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New Virus Attack Technique Bypasses Filters

By Dennis Fisher
January 31, 2005

Virus writers have once again gotten the drop on anti-virus vendors and IT administrators with a new technique that's finding early and considerable success.

Late last month, administrators and service providers began seeing virus-infected messages with a new type of attachment hitting their mail servers: an .rar archive. .Rar files are similar to .zip files in that they are containers used to hold one or more compressed files. The .rar format is not as widely known as .zip, but it is used for a number of tasks, including compressing very large files, such as music and video.

The emergence of .rar-packed viruses highlights the lengths to which virus writers are willing to go to evade anti-virus systems, as well as the limitations of those traditional signature-based defenses.

Experts say .rar files carrying viruses have been sailing past commercial anti-virus products and finding their way into the mailboxes of users, who are often unfamiliar with the file format. Administrators who have seen .rar-packed malware say that none of the messages have been stopped by their anti-virus defenses.

Full story.

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Teaching computers to read no simple task

Creating algorithms to convert text so machines can learn
The Associated Press
Updated: 9:34 a.m. ET Jan. 31, 2005TROY, N.Y. - Among the handiest villains in science fiction are Computers That Know Too Much. Think of the dream-weaving despots of "The Matrix" or murderous HAL in "2001: A Space Odyssey." But in reality, even the most super supercomputer lacks the reasoning capacity of a child engrossed in a Dr. Seuss book. Computers can't read the way we do. They can't learn or reason like us.

Narrowing that cognitive gap between humans and machines — creating a computer that can read and learn at a sophisticated level — is a big goal of artificial intelligence researchers.

The Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Project Agency, or DARPA, granted a contract worth at least $400,000 last fall to two Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professors who are trying to build a machine that can learn by reading.

Full story.

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Nanomedicine's Promise Is Anything but Tiny

Nanomedicine's Promise Is Anything but Tiny

By Rick Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 31, 2005; Page A08

It was a small wedding. Very small. But big changes are coming from the marriage of medicine and nanotechnology, the new branch of science that deals with things a few millionths of an inch in size.

Full story.

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HIPAA Chilling Biomedical Research

PRIVACY RULE CUTS RESEARCH RECRUITMENT BY MORE THAN HALF

Editorial: data show dismal outlook for biomedical research without modifications

PITTSBURGH, Jan. 31, 2005 – The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) designed to enhance patient confidentiality by restricting access to medical records is slowing the progress of critical biomedical research, according to an editorial published in the February issue of the journal Annals of Epidemiology. In perhaps the first quantitative study of recruitment trends following the rule’s implementation in April 2003, Roberta B. Ness, M.D., M.P.H., reports a significant “chilling effect.”

Continue reading "HIPAA Chilling Biomedical Research" »

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Synthon, Pfizer in legal wrangle

Synthon, Pfizer in legal wrangle
Kim Nilsen

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK - In a bid to shield more than $3 billion in sales of a high blood pressure drug, Pfizer Inc. is suing generic drug company Synthon Pharmaceuticals.

Synthon Laboratories, a subsidiary of the drug company, is seeking U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval for a lower-cost medication that would rival the drug Norvasc, Pfizer's top-selling high blood pressure drug.

Full story.

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Depomed patents expand drug marketplace

Depomed patents expand drug marketplace
Janet Rae-Dupree and Daniel S. Levine
As many retirees do, polymer chemist John Shell Sr. got restless a few months after leaving Alza Corp. in Mountain View. A friend at a rival company offered him lab space where he could tinker. Perhaps, he thought, he'd try to figure out how to keep irritating medications away from the stomach's sensitive lining.


He figured that out, all right. But he simultaneously made another, far more lucrative, discovery. The same substance --a type of polymer -- that can protect the stomach also expands in contact with gastric acids. By swelling up to a size that doesn't pass easily into the intestines, a pill can release its contents over time. That means patients can take lower dosages less frequently and still experience the same benefits.

Full story.

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INVENTORS SPEND PLENTY TO DEVELOP THEIR DREAMS

INVENTORS SPEND PLENTY TO DEVELOP THEIR DREAMS

By Evan Pondel

LOS ANGELES DAILY NEWS


LOS ANGELES - Charles Gale has a knack for collecting the scraps on his workbench and finding ways to improve the flow of life around his house.

"I've always been mechanically inclined, waking my wife up in the middle of the night because I just thought of a new way to do something better," said Gale, 60, who recently retired from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "I suppose I have the habits of an inventor."

And that's just what Gale has officially become. His latest invention -- a stabilizing platform for a digital camcorder -- received its first patent several months ago. To pursue the patent, he had to take a second mortgage and invest about $12,000. "Hopefully, I'll find a manufacturer or even a small-business loan so I can get the product out there and start making some money."

From the first inkling of an idea to a fully formulated product, the invention business is as enticing as it is expensive. Though generally costing several thousand dollars, patent applications are on the rise.

Full story.

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Royalty Stacking an Issue for Pharmaceutical and Biotechnolgy Industry in UK

Solutions to Royalty Stacking Issues a Top Priority in Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Sectors

London, UK, 31st January, 2005 - As new technologies are innovated in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sectors, the number of fresh patents and related regulations is also on the rise. With patents materialising as the most recognised form of intellectual property fortification, companies are increasingly becoming dependent on patented research tools and techniques. Royalty stacking is primarily the largest patent dilemma industry participants must work towards overcoming.

Royalty stacking, which is the sharing of third-party royalties, is caused by a multiplicity of overlapping patents. Compelled to pay large amounts to obtain these multiple licences, companies are forced to raise prices and are being discouraged to undertake technical innovation.

Full story.

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California stem-cell funding spawns wannabes

Daniel S. Levine
As California implements its $3 billion stem-cell proposition, other states are pushing forward with research funding plans of their own for fear of missing out on a financial bonanza.

At least seven states are considering providing funding for stem-cell research. These range from Connecticut's plan to direct $10 million to $20 million into stem-cell research to proposals in New York and Illinois to raise up to $1 billion each to fund stem-cell research. New Jersey, Wisconsin, Maryland and Virginia are also considering providing funding.

Full story.

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Medical tech park eyed at Milwaukee VA

Barrett wants federal land for biotech center
Pete Millard

The city of Milwaukee wants to acquire 37 acres from the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center for a medical technology business park.

The undeveloped land is in the far southeast corner of the 125-acre Veterans Affairs compound. The land borders Miller Park Way and West National Avenue, and is south of the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park home.

Full story.

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WISCONSIN SCIENTISTS GROW CRITICAL NERVE CELLS

WISCONSIN SCIENTISTS GROW CRITICAL NERVE CELLS

MADISON - After years of trial and error, scientists have coaxed human embryonic stem cells to become spinal motor neurons, critical nervous system pathways that relay messages from the brain to the rest of the body.Zhang_su_chun_hs01

Continue reading "WISCONSIN SCIENTISTS GROW CRITICAL NERVE CELLS " »

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Catholic center, now in Phila., pioneered bioethics

Catholic center, now in Phila., pioneered bioethics

Kristin E. Holmes

is an Inquirer staff writer

When the National Catholic Bioethics Center was founded in 1972, abortion was illegal and no one had ever heard of HIV/AIDS or the potential of stem cells to cure.

The Catholic Health Association of the United States was looking for a think tank, one that would consider the ethical issues of the day from a Catholic perspective.

"The church is always looked at as reactionary and behind the curve," said the center's president, John Haas, "but the truth is we were in front of the curve. We have one of the oldest bioethics centers in the country."

The nonprofit center has just moved its staff of 12 from headquarters in Boston to Philadelphia, where it will carry on its mission to "promote and safeguard the dignity of the human person in health care." While the center upholds Catholic teachings, it operates independently of the church hierarchy and raises its $1.6 million annual budget from grants, contracts and private donations.

The center provides consultation services, conducts research, and publishes two journals and at least one book annually on bioethical issues. The latest is an update of its Handbook on Critical Life Issues, which examines such topics as the theology of suffering, euthanasia, organ transplantation, and stem cell research.

The staff advocates Catholic teachings, including opposition to physician-assisted suicide, abortion, cloning, and embryonic stem cell research.

"The most important issue facing us is the tendency to depersonalize the human being," Haas said. "That leads to everything else." His great concern is that "the weak and the vulnerable will be used to benefit the strong and those in control."

A person with Parkinson's disease who might benefit from research using embryonic stem cells has a right to life, Haas said, "but not at the expense of another person's life," and that includes a frozen embryo. The church supports research using stem cells found in adults and other sources, such as umbilical cords.

Full story.

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UNESCO Develops Universal Norms in Bioethics, Women Under-Represented

UNESCO Develops Universal Norms in Bioethics, Women Under-Represented
30 Jan 2005

Today, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Bioethics Committee (IBC) is meeting in Paris to set international standards on bioethics. While these standards have the potential to enhance the health and well-being of all people, the committee membership is almost exclusively male.

Representing more than half the global population, a disproportionate number of the world's vulnerable people, and the traditional caregivers of all generations, women have a special stake in bioethical issues.

Full story.

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Karaoke lands bars, restaurants in hot water with publishing group

Karaoke lands bars, restaurants in hot water with publishing group

BY APRIL KINSER

The Dallas Morning News

DALLAS - (KRT) - The next time you see someone jump onstage at a karaoke bar and belt out a tune, keep in mind you could be watching an illegal act. And it wouldn't be the singing.

The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers announced last week it has sued 24 restaurants, clubs and bars in 15 states for allowing live performances of their members' songs or customers' singing of copyright music without permission, resulting in lost income for the artists.

And the establishments have ignored repeated requests to pay required fees, Vincent Candilora, president of licensing for ASCAP, said last Friday.

The association licenses its members' works, which include 8 million songs and compositions from artists such as Alicia Keys and Trisha Yearwood, and collects royalties for public performances of those copyright works.

Public establishments must pay a fee if any copyright songs are performed live or played through a radio station, jukebox, television or CD player.

Full story.

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Solar super-sail could reach Mars in a month

Solar super-sail could reach Mars in a month
29 January 2005
NewScientist.com news service

To Mars by MicrowaveA LICK of paint could help a spacecraft powered by a solar sail get from Earth to Mars in just one month, seven times faster than the craft that took the rovers Spirit and Opportunity to the Red Planet.

Gregory Benford of the University of California, Irvine, and his brother James, who runs aerospace research firm Microwave Sciences in Lafayette, California, envisage beaming microwave energy up from Earth to boil off volatile molecules from a specially formulated paint applied to the sail. The recoil of the molecules as they streamed off the sail would give it a significant kick that would help the craft on its way. "It's a different way of thinking about propulsion," Gregory Benford says. "We leave the engine on the ground."

Solar sails are in essence nothing more than giant mirrors. Photons of light from the sun bounce off the surface, giving the sail a gentle push. It was while developing a solar sail five years ago that the brothers stumbled upon their idea for enhancing the effect.

Full story.

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Teen Sentenced for Releasing Blaster Worm Variant

Teen Sentenced for Releasing Blaster Worm Variant

By Gene Johnson
Associated Press Writer
Friday, January 28, 2005; 4:44 PM

SEATTLE -- A Minnesota teenager was sentenced Friday to 18 months in prison for unleashing a variant of the Blaster Internet worm in 2003 that he programmed to attack a Microsoft Corp. Web site.

Jeffrey Lee Parson, 19, of Hopkins, Minn., was a high school senior when he downloaded and modified the worm.

Full story.

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Bids Sought For 'Net Sales Tax Systems

Bids Sought For 'Net Sales Tax Systems

By Brian Krebs
washingtonpost.com Staff Writer
Friday, January 28, 2005; 9:09 AM

State governments working on a national Internet sales tax system are moving ahead with plans to create the data infrastructure that they and retailers will need to manage the collection of taxes on most e-commerce transactions.

Working together under the auspices of the Streamlined Sales Tax Project, 40 states and the District of Columbia have issued two requests for bids from technology companies to design the software and Web-based networks to track millions of online purchases and process the appropriate sales tax payments.

Full story.
Related WI Legislators Press Release Regarding Governor's Plan to Tax Internet


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Superfluid helium-4 whistles just the right tune

Superfluid helium-4 whistles just the right tune

By Robert Sanders, Media Relations | 27 January 2005

BERKELEY – University of California, Berkeley, physicists can now tune in to and hear normally inaudible quantum vibrations, called quantum whistles, enabling them to build very sensitive detectors of rotation or very precise gyroscopes.

A quantum whistle is a peculiar characteristic of supercold condensed fluids, in this case superfluid helium-4, which vibrate when you try to push them through a tiny hole. Richard Packard, professor of physics at UC Berkeley, and graduate student Emile Hoskinson knew that many other researchers had failed to produce a quantum whistle by pushing helium-4 through a tiny aperture, which must be no bigger than a few tens of nanometers across - the size of the smallest viruses and about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

To their surprise, however, a chorus of thousands of nano-whistles produced a wail loud enough to hear. This is the first demonstration of whistling in superfluid helium-4. According to Packard and Hoskinson, the purity of the tone may lead to the development of rotation sensors that are sufficiently sensitive to be used for Earth science, seismology and inertial navigation.

Full story.

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U.S. federal court invalidates patent for key Merck osteoporosis drug

U.S. federal court invalidates patent for key Merck osteoporosis drug

Provided by: Canadian Press

Written by: LINDA JOHNSON

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - A U.S. federal court invalidated the patent for a blockbuster osteoporosis drug made by Merck & Co. on Friday, sending Merck shares plunging but offering patients with the brittle-bone disease the possibility of cheaper pills in a few years.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., invalidated the patent for the once-a-week version of Merck's Fosamax, which dominates the market for osteoporosis drugs. Under the ruling, generic competition could begin as soon as early 2008, instead of 2018.

Full story.

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USPTO Adds Trademark Wrappers to Website

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is pleased to present TDR - Trademark Document Retrieval. Through TDR, you can view and download any or all documents contained in the electronic file wrapper of all pending trademark applications, as well as many registrations.

Currently, you can access all pending applications and all Madrid Protocol filings, and also many registrations, via TDR. The USPTO is in the process of converting all remaining registrations into a digital format, to permit future TDR access. This conversion process is expected to take several years.

Full story.

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Bone Care earnings continue to be strong

Bone Care earnings continue to be strong
00:00 am 1/27/05
Andrew Wallmeyer Wisconsin State Journal

Bone Care International reported stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings as sales of Hectorol, its hormone therapy for the treatment of chronic kidney disease and end-stage renal disease, more than doubled from prior-year levels. The strong sales growth also prompted the Middleton pharmaceutical company to boost its full-year sales estimate.

The report marked Bone Care's fourth consecutive profitable quarter and seventh straight period of revenue growth.

Full story.

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High-Tech Spacesuits Eyed for ‘Extreme Exploration’

High-Tech Spacesuits Eyed for ‘Extreme Exploration’

By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 26 January 2005
06:43 am ET

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- Future explorers on the Moon and Mars could be outfitted in lightweight, high-tech spacesuits that offer far more flexibility than the bulky suits that have been used for spacewalks in the 1960s.

Research is under way at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a Bio-Suit System that incorporates a suit designed to augment a person’s biological skin by providing mechanical counter-pressure. The “epidermis” of such a second skin could be applied in spray-on fashion in the form of an organic, biodegradable layer.

This coating would protect an astronaut conducting a spacewalk in extremely dusty planetary environments. Incorporated into that second skin would be electrically actuated artificial muscle fibers to enhance human strength and stamina.

The Bio-Suit System could embody communications equipment, biosensors, computers, even climbing gear for spacewalks or what NASA calls an Extra Vehicular Activity (EVA).

Full story.

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Microsoft to Launch Anti-Piracy Initiative

Reuters
Wednesday, January 26, 2005; 2:28 AM

SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp. will combat piracy of its flagship operating system by requiring Windows users to verify that their copy of the software is genuine in order to receive timely updates and security fixes, the world's largest software maker said on Wednesday.


Full story.

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Stellar Reaction Recreated

Lab Experiments Mimic a Star's Energy Bursts


This false color image shows an ultracold plasma of 26,000 beryllium ions fluorescing when hit by a laser pulse.

05phy001_coldplasmas_hr

A key process that enhances the production of nuclear energy in the interior of dense stars has been re-created in the laboratory for the first time by physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The work may help scientists study topics such as nuclear fusion as a possible energy source and demonstrates a new method for studying and modeling dense stellar objects such as white dwarfs.

Full story.

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Two men pay an undisclosed amount to Earthlink

Alleged top spammers settle lawsuit
Two men pay an undisclosed amount to Earthlink
The Associated Press
Updated: 1:46 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2005ATLANTA - Two members of an alleged spamming ring paid Earthlink an undisclosed amount to settle a lawsuit, agreeing also to stop sending unsolicited e-mail, the Internet service provider said.

The two, Damon DeCrescenzo and David Burstyn, were sued last year by Atlanta-based EarthLink, which claimed they were part of a multi-state spamming operation that spewed more than 250 million illegal e-mails.

Full story.

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Sun Grants Global Open Source Community Access to More than 1,600 Patents

Sun Grants Global Open Source Community Access to More than 1,600 Patents
Tuesday January 25, 4:07 pm ET
Largest Single Grant in Patent History Spurs Software Innovation

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW - News) today announced the largest single release of patent innovations into the open source community by any organization to date, marking a significant shift in the way Sun positions its intellectual property portfolio. By giving open source developers free access to Sun(TM) OpenSolaris related patents under the Common Development and Distribution License (CDDL), the company is fostering open innovation and establishing a leadership role in the framework of a patent commons that will be recognized across the globe.

Full story.

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WARF'S DIRECTOR NAMED TO NATIONAL PATENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
1/25/05
CONTACT: Andrew Cohn, (608) 263-2821, cohn@warf.org
NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A high-resolution photograph is available at http://www.news.wisc.edu/newsphotos/gulbrandsen.html

WARF'S DIRECTOR NAMED TO NATIONAL PATENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE

MADISON - The leader of the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) has become the first person from a university patent management office to serve on a committee that helps guide the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Carl Gulbrandsen, managing director of WARF, UW-Madison's nonprofit patenting and licensing organization, was appointed last month to a three-year term on the national Patent Public Advisory Committee. Created by a 1999 Act, the committee reviews the USPTO's policies, goals, performance, budget and user fees, and advises the office on ways to improve its services and efficiency.

Continue reading "WARF'S DIRECTOR NAMED TO NATIONAL PATENT ADVISORY COMMITTEE" »

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SWORDS will be the first armed automaton to see combat

Army readies robot soldier for Iraq

The Associated Press
Updated: 11:13 a.m. ET Jan. 24, 2005ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J. - The rain is turning to snow on a blustery January morning, and all the men gathered in a parking lot here surely would prefer to be inside.

But the weather couldn’t matter less to the robotic sharpshooter they are here to watch as it splashes through puddles, the barrel of its machine gun pointing the way like Pinocchio’s nose.

The Army is preparing to send 18 of these remote-controlled robotic warriors to fight in Iraq beginning in March or April.

Full story.

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Microsoft Cites IP Defense in Blogger Crackdown

Microsoft Cites IP Defense in Blogger Crackdown
By Mary Jo Foley, Microsoft Watch
January 22, 2005

On the heels of Apple Computer's attempt to crack down on journalists for allegedly misappropriating trade secrets, some free-speech advocates are worried that Microsoft has launched a similar campaign.

In a Jan. 18 letter it said was issued on behalf of Microsoft, the law firm of Covington & Burling asked the publisher of tech-enthusiast site Engadget.com to remove screenshots of a forthcoming Microsoft operating-system release known as "Windows Mobile 2005."

According to the request, Microsoft considers the images to contain "proprietary trade-secret information belonging to Microsoft."

Full story.

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Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Feeding Tube Appeal

Florida Loses Supreme Court Appeal In Feeding Tube Case

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court will not reinstate a Florida law that barred a husband from having a feeding tube removed from his brain-damaged wife.

Justices, without comment Monday, rejected an appeal from Gov. Jeb Bush.

Full story.

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Marshfield Clinic Study: Implantable Defibrillator Better than Drugs

LANDMARK STUDY: IMPLANTABLE DEFIBRILLATORS BETTER THAN DRUGS FOR PREVENTING SUDDEN HEART DEATH

A landmark study published today in the New England Journal of Medicine proves that an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) can significantly prolong the lives of congestive heart failure (CHF) patients, beyond that of conventional therapies.

Full story.

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Copyright Myth

Debunking a myth: The Poor Man's Copyright, or, why 37 cents won't get you the same protection as the Copyright Office.

Submitted by Carey on Mon, 01/24/2005 - 4:09am. 17 U.S.C. | general | IP News
A few days ago, while scanning through the piles of new IP bits, I came across a website which offered to protect your intellectual property rights, all for the extrodinary price of $3. The company in question, World-Wide OCR, merely took an old idea, dubbed a 'Poor Man's Copyright,' and added encryption and data storage to the mix. What it doesn't do, is legally protect your work.

Link to IPNews Blog

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Nanoscale Electron Island Could Lead To New Efficient Flat-panel Displays

Robert Blick, an Electrical and Computer Engineering Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and colleagues in Germany have demonstrated a new nanoscale mechanism for field emission that could lead to a new type of energy efficient flat-panel display. The team's article in Physical Review Letters describes how a nanoscale gold-tipped island is able to mechanically oscillate between two facing electrodes, which provide recharging and detection of the emission current. Additionally, unlike many nanoscale experiments in field emission, the device does not need to be cryogenically cooled.

Full story.

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Getting started with an invention can be pricey

By Evan Pondel
Staff writer

Charles Gale has a knack for collecting the scraps on his workbench and finding ways to improve the flow of life around his house.
"I've always been mechanically inclined, waking my wife up in the middle of the night because I just thought of a new way to do something better," said Gale, 60, who recently retired from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. "I suppose I have the habits of an inventor."

And that's just what Gale has officially become. His latest invention — a stabilizing platform for a digital camcorder — received its first patent several months ago. To pursue the patent, he had to take a second mortgage and invest about $12,000. "Hopefully, I'll find a manufacturer or even a small business loan so I can get the product out there and start making some money."

From the first inkling of an idea to a fully formulated product, the invention business is as enticing as it is expensive. Though generally costing several thousand dollars, patent applications are on the rise.

Full story.

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Marshall, TX -- Rocket Docket Venue

Town practices 'rocket docket' law
Tiny Marshall gaining fame as popular venue for high-tech litigation
Monica Perin
Houston Business Journal
The self-proclaimed "Pottery Capital" of Texas is also gaining fame as a "rocket docket" for high-tech litigation.

The town of Marshall, population 64,000, anchors the Eastern District of Texas while Houston serves as seat of the Southern District.

Nevertheless, a growing number of intellectual property attorneys with Houston firms make the 220-mile trip to file litigation in Marshall, where tech-related cases typically go to trial six months sooner.

Full story.

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Current human embryonic stem cell lines contaminated

Contact: Sue Pondrom
spondrom@ucsd.edu
619-543-6163
University of California - San Diego

Current human embryonic stem cell lines contaminated UCSD/Salk team finds

Currently available lines of human embryonic stem cells have been contaminated with a non-human molecule that compromises their potential therapeutic use in human subjects, according to research by investigators at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine and the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.
In a study published online January 23, 2005 in the journal Nature Medicine, the researchers found that human embryonic stem cells, including those currently approved for study under federal funding in the U.S., contain a non-human, cell-surface sialic acid called N-glycolylneuraminic acid (Neu5Gc), even though human cells are genetically unable to make it. In a related paper published November 29, 2004 by the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC), the Varki group has also discovered the exact cellular mechanism by which this occurs.

Related Editorial in LA Times

Continue reading "Current human embryonic stem cell lines contaminated" »

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Priming Embryonic Stem Cells To Fulfill Their Promise

By Rex Graham

Bioengineering researchers at the University of California, San Diego have invented a process to help turn embryonic stem cells into the types of specialized cells being sought as possible treatments for dozens of human diseases and health conditions. Sangeeta Bhatia and Shu Chien, UCSD bioengineering professors, and Christopher J. Flaim, a bioengineering graduate student, described the cell-culture technique in a paper published in the February issue of Nature Methods, which became available online on Jan. 21.

Full story.

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FDA Approval Not the Only Concern for Medical Devices

Disk dilemma: Insurers not yet convinced of new back procedure
Phill Trewyn
Just 24 hours after spinal surgery that could have left Kari King facing months of rehab, she walked out of the hospital in December thinking of skiing and triathlons.

King, a 27-year-old former nursing assistant who injured her lower back while adjusting a bed-ridden patient two years ago, was the recipient of a new artificial disk approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in October 2004.

Physicians and the disk's manufacturer -- DePuy Spine Inc., a Raynham, Mass., subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson Co. -- believe the "Charite" disk will get people with degenerative disk disease back to work faster because of shorter recovery time.

Despite the FDA approval, however, most health insurers are not yet paying for the disk because they still consider it "experimental." The disk procedure can easily cost up to $60,000, with additional physician and hospital costs pushing that close to $100,000.

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Corn-fed generator to plug into power grid

Crop of kilowatts
Corn-fed generator to plug into power grid
By THOMAS CONTENT
tcontent@journalsentinel.com
Posted: Jan. 21, 2005
Madison-based Virent Energy Systems this spring will build a hydrogen generator that will supply a small amount of electricity to the power grid.

The move is another step forward for the renewable-energy firm that was hatched in a University of Wisconsin-Madison laboratory.

Teaming up with Madison Gas & Electric Co., Virent plans to apply its technology - which produces hydrogen from the sugar in corn and other plants - to a generator that would produce 5 kilowatts of electricity.

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Third Wave achieves quality certification

Third Wave achieves quality certification

The Capital Times
January 21, 2005

Madison-based Third Wave Technologies Inc. announced that it has achieved ISO 13485:2003 certification, a globally-recognized standard of quality management for medical device manufacturers.

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Discovery moves forward in SCO case

Judge Orders IBM to Turn Over Code in Battle With SCO
Associated Press
Thursday, January 20, 2005; 7:38 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A federal judge in Utah has ordered IBM to turn over more programming code to The SCO Group Inc., whose lawsuit accuses IBM of illegally inserting proprietary Unix code into the Linux operating system.

The ruling, released late Wednesday, requires International Business Machines Corp. to produce the additional code by March 18.

SCO, based in Lindon, is seeking at least $5 billion from IBM. Wells was ruling on a December motion by SCO claiming that IBM had not provided relevant material, including code and programmers' notes.

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Reversal of Alzheimer's plaques in mouse study

Mouse brain cells rapidly recover after Alzheimer's plaques are cleared

By Michael Purdy

Jan. 20, 2005 — Brain cells in a mouse model of Alzheimer's disease have surprised scientists with their ability to recuperate after the disorder's characteristic brain plaques are removed.

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis injected mice with an antibody for a key component of brain plaques, the amyloid beta (Abeta) peptide. In areas of the brain where antibodies cleared plaques, many of the swellings previously observed on nerve cell branches rapidly disappeared.

"These swellings represent structural damage that seemed to be well established and stable, but clearing out the plaques often led to rapid recovery of normal structure over a few days," says senior author David H. Holtzman, M.D., the Charlotte and Paul Hagemann Professor and head of the Department of Neurology. "This provides confirmation of the potential benefits of plaque-clearing treatments and also gets us rethinking our theories on how plaques cause nerve cell damage."

Prior to the experiment, Holtzman and some other scientists had regarded plaque damage to nerve cells as a fait accompli — something that the plaques only needed to inflict on nerve cells once. According to Holtzman, the new results suggest that plaques might not just cause damage but also somehow actively maintain it.

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Superthermite Bombs

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Military Reloads with Nanotech
By John Gartner January 21, 2005

Nanotechnology is grabbing headlines for its potential in advancing the life sciences and computing research, but the Department of Defense (DoD) found another use: a new class of weaponry that uses energy-packed nanometals to create powerful, compact bombs.

With funding from the U.S. government, Sandia National Laboratories, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are researching how to manipulate the flow of energy within and between molecules, a field known as nanoenergentics, which enables building more lethal weapons such as "cave-buster bombs" that have several times the detonation force of conventional bombs such as the "daisy cutter" or MOAB (mother of all bombs).

Researchers can greatly increase the power of weapons by adding materials known as superthermites that combine nanometals such as nanoaluminum with metal oxides such as iron oxide, according to Steven Son, a project leader in the Explosives Science and Technology group at Los Alamos.

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In Age of Security, Firm Mines Wealth Of Personal Data

In Age of Security, Firm Mines Wealth Of Personal Data

By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2005; Page A01

It began in 1997 as a company that sold credit data to the insurance industry. But over the next seven years, as it acquired dozens of other companies, Alpharetta, Ga.-based ChoicePoint Inc. became an all-purpose commercial source of personal information about Americans, with billions of details about their homes, cars, relatives, criminal records and other aspects of their lives.

As its dossier grew, so did the number of ChoicePoint's government and corporate clients, jumping from 1,000 to more than 50,000 today. Company stock once worth about $500 million ballooned to $4.1 billion.

Now the little-known information industry giant is transforming itself into a private intelligence service for national security and law enforcement tasks. It is snapping up a host of companies, some of them in the Washington area, that produce sophisticated computer tools for analyzing and sharing records in ChoicePoint's immense storehouses. In financial papers, the company itself says it provides "actionable intelligence."

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AVI BioPharma gets patent for stem-cell use

NEW YORK (Dow Jones/AP) -- AVI BioPharma Inc. shares more than doubled in value Wednesday after the company received a U.S. patent on stem-cell technology.

Stock of the Portland, Ore.-based company jumped rose $2.10, or 103 percent, to close at $4.14 on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

Despite the sharp rise, Wednesday's strongest level of $4.24 was still below the 52-week high of $4.75 set a year ago. There was a 52-week low of $1.55 on Aug. 9.

News the company is moving into the stem cell arena generated excitement because ``stem cells are hot right now,'' Rodman & Renshaw Inc. analyst Ren Benjamin said.

He said, however, that investor enthusiasm will surely wane because ``it's very early, we haven't seen any data on it and it's too early to tell whether this could become a viable product or exactly how it would be used.''

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CORD BLOOD TRANSPLANTATION NOW A VIABLE OPTION FOR ADULT LEUKEMIA PATIENTS

American Society of Hematology http://www.hematology.org/

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Laura Stark , (202) 776-0544

CORD BLOOD TRANSPLANTATION NOW A VIABLE OPTION FOR ADULT LEUKEMIA PATIENTS

(WASHINGTON, January 19, 2005) – Stem cell transplantation using umbilical cord blood is a standard treatment option for blood disorders in children, but not for adults, due to the difficulty of obtaining a sufficiently large dose of cells. To solve this problem, researchers from the University of Minnesota examined a new technique that combines two cord blood units from different donors for transplantation into adult or adolescent leukemia patients. Their study is to be published in the February 1, 2005, issue of Blood, the official journal of the American Society of Hematology.

Twenty-three patients with high-risk acute and chronic leukemias were studied for up to two and a half years. As is often the case, a suitably matched volunteer donor could not be found for these patients, and without an exact match, a transplant would likely be unsuccessful.

Continue reading "CORD BLOOD TRANSPLANTATION NOW A VIABLE OPTION FOR ADULT LEUKEMIA PATIENTS " »

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Sun License to Give Developers Patent-Use Rights

Sun License to Give Developers Patent-Use Rights
By Peter Galli
January 19, 2005

The Open Source Initiative has approved Sun Microsystems' CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License), paving the way for the Santa Clara, Calif., company to proceed with its plan to release its Solaris operating system as an open-source project.

But if Sun does use the CDDL for its Open Solaris project, as is expected, one of this license's benefits for developers and the open-source community is that "with the CDDL, if you read it carefully, Sun will convey all of its patents to the community, and not just 500 like IBM recently did, " a source close to the company told eWEEK.

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New copyright protection bills likely in 2005

New copyright protection bills likely in 2005

By Grant Gross
Online copyright protection, including bills focused on peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file-trading, will likely be on the U.S. Congress? agenda as lawmakers gear up for their 2005 session this month. Telecommunications reform may command a significant amount of attention from tech-focused lawmakers this year, but congressional observers also expect a push for new legislation that would focus on discouraging file trading using P-to-P software.

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Trend in Second Guessing Trial Courts in Patent Litigation

Google and Cisco Systems aren't too happy about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision this week in a lawsuit over vehicle drive shafts of a certain very specific size.

It's no joke. The justices on Tuesday refused to hear a hotly contested patent case involving drive shafts of "substantially uniform wall thickness" that pitted American Axle and Manufacturing against Dana Corp.

While the two Silicon Valley firms may have little interest in the mechanics of drive shaft manufacturing, they share a keen interest in the mechanics of patent laws. In a legal brief urging the justices to take up the case, the companies say they hold more than 1,400 patents and want to promote a patent system with a reasonable "balance" among inventors, users and follow-on improvers.

The two firms are worried about what they view as a disturbing trend in which appeals courts second-guess trial judges regarding whether a patent is valid. In that process, ending in what's called a "Markman" hearing (named after a 1996 Supreme Court case), both sides present detailed evidence to a trial judge about the scope of the patent and its history.

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