The Beginning of the End of the Internet?

Written by Bill Platt

A steady stream of Patents have been coming fromrepparttar U.S. Patent Office overrepparttar 119306 last few years, which have left folks inrepparttar 119307 software industry frustrated and outraged.

With Patents that were issued to Amazon, Alta Vista and more recently McAfee getting extensive headline coverage, many have asked themselves what is afoot over atrepparttar 119308 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. How can such universal software concepts such as "One-Click Purchasing", "Search Engines" and now, "Auto-Downloading of Software / Software as a Service (SaaS)" become items that are allowed to be Patented by companies?

Most Patent experts do not take these "junk Patents" seriously knowing full well that they will be overturned byrepparttar 119309 courts and other processes set up to policerepparttar 119310 system.

Amazon is set to test their patent in September of 2001 against BarnesandNoble. During an injuction hearing,repparttar 119311 judge stated that if BarnesandNoble simply instituted a two-click system then he had nothing that could be said about their use of this purchase system.

Alta Vista's Search Patents will fall becauserepparttar 119312 creator of Archie has proof that his system was in fact "prior art". Given that Archie providedrepparttar 119313 first search engine, what does that tell us aboutrepparttar 119314 management at Alta Vista who tried to claim that they invented search technologies? More important to this discussion, what does this tell us about our Patent System that allows Alta Vista to get a patent on search technology inrepparttar 119315 first place?

McAfee now boldly claims that "what it really holds is a Patent onrepparttar 119316 future ofrepparttar 119317 Internet." If there were half a chance this Patent could surviverepparttar 119318 test of time, then they would be right in their assessment. Again,repparttar 119319 question comes down to how, even after two-and-a-half years of investigation,repparttar 119320 U.S. Patent and Trademark Office could makerepparttar 119321 determination that McAfee invented these concepts and were worthy of receiving a Patent for such?

What makes this current system so frustrating is that processes that have been considered common knowledge for years are earning patents on a regular basis. Withrepparttar 119322 broad range of definition being granted withrepparttar 119323 modern Patents, all areas of software development are being negatively influenced.

Dozens of software developers have already spoke up to ZD-Net / eWeek / Talkback concerningrepparttar 119324 story aboutrepparttar 119325 McAfee patent. Here are a few of their comments:

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Allen Vander Meulen, an Independent Consultant from West Chester, PA said:

A patent on "Auto Update"????? Ridiculous!!! I was writing code to do auto-updates for PC software across LAN's and via modems inrepparttar 119326 late 1980's and early 90's. (Of course, there was no internet component or any need for authentication at that time!)

Al Pareigis, a Software Professional from Oak Brook stated:

The patent is nuts!

The fundamental concept of check and download upgrades auto- magically has been a cornerstone of software distribution. Heck,repparttar 119327 last one I wrote was inrepparttar 119328 mid 90's. It was using OS2 clients with Rexx routines to do that for a 911 center.

Sprucing uprepparttar 119329 concept with words like 'web', 'browser' and 'server' does not changerepparttar 119330 fundamental concept. It is a common practice and knowledge torepparttar 119331 profession.

Mauri Presser, a Computer Specialist from Virginia stated:

This reminds me ofrepparttar 119332 conflict between Microsoft and Apple inrepparttar 119333 case ofrepparttar 119334 Trashcan vs.repparttar 119335 Recycle Bin. Both icons (folders) serverepparttar 119336 same purpose. The "Auto Update" feature in any software servesrepparttar 119337 same purpose, to automaterepparttar 119338 process. Just like batch files inrepparttar 119339 command line days, or script files, or for that matter, any software. I remember entering commands on a Sperry Univac computer sold torepparttar 119340 US Navy calledrepparttar 119341 AN/UYK-20, that did not have a keyboard. During troubleshooting, instructions and data were entered by using a 16 switch maintenance panel. The operating system and parameters could also be loaded by magnetic tape or paper tape. The point is, these means of program and data entry just automatedrepparttar 119342 process. Does anyone have a patent onrepparttar 119343 "concept" of automation? Or is it onlyrepparttar 119344 method that gets repparttar 119345 patent?

Site and Email Disclaimers - A necessary evil

Written by Michael Bloch

This beingrepparttar age of increasing litigation, it is advisable for web site owners to have disclaimers posted on their Internet sites, and to have them accessible from any other part ofrepparttar 119305 site. It is unfortunate that we need to do this, but such isrepparttar 119306 nature ofrepparttar 119307 beast. Internet Law varies from country to country as to what can be posted on disclaimer and privacy notices, but generally they should cover your terms of use regardings these points:

- The quality of content ofrepparttar 119308 site

- The availability of services on your site to certain groups of people (e.g. age of visitors) or geographical locations

- Endorsement of links to other web sites.

- Make it clear that information on your site is for information purposes only and not intended to constitue professional advice as circumstances will vary from person to person.

- Clearly state your rights to reproduce or remove material uploaded or posted to your web site.

- That you are not liable to visitors for information posted to your Internet site.

- That others posting to your site cannot hold you responsible for any loss or damages arising from supplying material.

- That you are not liable forrepparttar 119309 actions of users of your website.

Dependant onrepparttar 119310 type of website you have, it may be wise to not allow visitors to enter your site without their acceptance of terms and conditions of site usage. Only after they have indicated that they have readrepparttar 119311 "terms of use" and agree to them by clicking a button will they be allowed web site access.

Web site usage disclaimer example:

Disclaimer. The information contained in this archive is provided 'as is' without warranty of any kind. The entire risk as torepparttar 119312 results andrepparttar 119313 performance ofrepparttar 119314 information is assumed byrepparttar 119315 user, and in no event shall YOUR COMPANY NAME be liable for any consequential, incidental or direct damages suffered inrepparttar 119316 course of usingrepparttar 119317 information in this archive. Use ofrepparttar 119318 information contained in this archive are governed by their respective license agreements and may contain restrictions on use.

Web site forum disclaimer example:

All messages made available as part of this discussion group (including any bulletin boards and chat rooms) and any opinions, advice, statements or other information contained in any messages posted or transmitted by any third party arerepparttar 119319 responsibility ofrepparttar 119320 author of that message and not of YOUR COMPANY NAME (unless YOUR COMPANY NAME is specifically identified asrepparttar 119321 author ofrepparttar 119322 message). The fact that a particular message is posted on or transmitted using this YOUR COMPANY NAME web site does not mean that YOUR COMPANY NAME has endorsed that message in any way or verifiedrepparttar 119323 accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message. We encourage visitors torepparttar 119324 forum to report any objectionable message to This forum is not monitored 24/7.

Issues regardingrepparttar 119325 development of privacy policies can be viewed viarepparttar 119326 following article:

Email Disclaimers Withrepparttar 119327 general acceptance of email for business communications, it is becoming increasingly important that we represent and safeguard ourselves effectively in our emails. The proliferation of viruses has raised questions as to whether a company can be sued for sending another company an email with an infected attachment. If you are managing a company with many employees; it is very difficult to keep tabs onrepparttar 119328 way your business is being represented online by your staff, and even more challenging isrepparttar 119329 issue of confidentiality. When we submit a web development draft proposal, we want to ensure thatrepparttar 119330 design proposal is going torepparttar 119331 right people and not being redistributed to competitors. The eight to twelve hours of unpaid work we put into a draft proposal is something that we try to protect.

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