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intellectual property & technology law

Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, who stole trade secrets from Google


Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.

Digital Instruments as Invention Machines

Communications of the ACM

The history of invention is a history of knowledge spillovers. There is persistent evidence of knowledge flowing from one firm, industry, sector or region to another, either by accident or by design, enabling other inventions to be developed.1,6,9,13 For example, Thomas Edison's invention of the "electronic indicator" (US patent 307,031: 1884) spurred the development by John Fleming and Lee De Forest in early 20th century of early vacuum tubes which eventually enabled not just long-distance telecommunication but also early computers (for example, Guarnier10). Edison, in turn, learned from his contemporaries including Frederick Guthrie.11 It appears that little of this mutual learning and knowledge exchange was paid for and can thus be called a "spillover," that is, an unintended flow of valuable knowledge, an example of a positive externality. Information technologies have been a major source of knowledge spillovers.a Information is a basic ingredient of invention, and technologies that facilitate the manipulation and communication of information should also facilitate invention.

From whistleblower laws to unions: How Google's AI ethics meltdown could shape policy


It's been two weeks since Google fired Timnit Gebru, a decision that still seems incomprehensible. Gebru is one of the most highly regarded AI ethics researchers in the world, a pioneer whose work has highlighted the ways tech fails marginalized communities when it comes to facial recognition and more recently large language models. Of course, this incident didn't happen in a vacuum. Case in point: Gebru was fired the same day the National Labor Review Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Google for illegally spying on employees and the retaliatory firing of employees interested in unionizing. Gebru's dismissal also calls into question issues of corporate influence in research, demonstrates the shortcomings of self-regulation, and highlights the poor treatment of Black people and women in tech in a year when Black Lives Matter sparked the largest protest movement in U.S. history. In an interview with VentureBeat last week, Gebru called the way she was fired disrespectful and described a companywide memo sent by CEO Sundar Pichai as "dehumanizing." To delve further into possible outcomes following Google's AI ethics meltdown, VentureBeat spoke with five experts in the field about Gebru's dismissal and the issues it raises.

Gartner: Debunking Myths and Misconceptions About AI, 2021


GARTNER is a registered trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc. and/or its affiliates in the U.S. and internationally, and is used herein with permission.

Copyright Law Is Bricking Your Game Console. Time to Fix That


There aren't enough game consoles in the world for our upcoming locked-down holiday. As Nintendo similarly struggles to keep up with demand, the number of people searching iFixit for Switch repair guides has more than tripled since last year. Traffic to our Joy-Con controller repair page started growing dramatically on March 14--the day after President Trump declared a national emergency. It's been surging ever since. At a time when so many of us are turning to games for fun, stress relief, and social connection, it is imperative for our collective sanity that we press every game console into service.

How Artificial Intelligence Could Help Keep Plagiarism in the Music Industry in Check


Spotify is currently working on an algorithm that could let musicians know whether their latest compositions copy parts of existing songs, reports the specialist magazine, Music Business Worldwide. Patent applications were apparently filed at the end of November in the US and in Europe, for a new technology named "Plagiarism Risk Detector and Interface." The invention is said to analyze so-called "lead sheets" -- a kind of musical score for songs denoting melody, chords and sometimes more -- to detect whether they copy any elements of any other tracks featured on the Spotify platform. These could be harmonies, sequences of chords or fragments of melody, for example. It could also provide a link to the track resembling the creation analyzed by the AI in order to facilitate rewriting.

RE2 Robotics Secures New Robotic Manipulation Patent


RE2 Expands Intellectual Property with Invention of Fluid Rotary Joint for Underwater Manipulation PITTSBURGH, PA – Dec. 3, 2020 – RE2 Robotics, a leading developer of intelligent mobile manipulation systems, has announced that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued patent number 10,704,665 for the invention of a fluid rotary joint that is capable of precise positioning while being driven by both fluids and gasses, including water, hydraulic fluid, and air. The patent, "Fluid Rotary Joint and Method of Using the Same," further adds to the Company's mobile manipulation intellectual property and underwater robotics expertise. The invention, which was developed during the design of an inflatable underwater manipulator for explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) applications, can be used in robotic arms to provide precise rotational positioning for dexterous manipulation. It combines a strain wave gear and fluidic actuators in a compact, precise rotary joint. The strain wave gear uses materials with tunable load transmission characteristics for the flex spline, rather than expensive toothed interfaces.

Open-source software: How many bugs are hidden there on purpose?


Microsoft-owned GitHub, the world's largest platform for open-source software, has found that 17% of all vulnerabilities in software were planted for malicious purposes. GitHub reported that almost a fifth of all software bugs were intentionally placed in code by malicious actors in its 2020 Octoverse report, released yesterday. Proprietary software makers over the years have been regularly criticized for'security through obscurity' or not making source code available for review by experts outside the company. Open source, on the other hand, is seen as a more transparent manner of development because, in theory, it can be vetted by anyone. But the reality is that it's often not vetted due to a lack of funding and human resource constraints.

The AI patent boom


The World Intellectual Property Organization's (WIPO) first report of a series called WIPO Technology Trends, an extensive study of patent applications and other scientific documents, offers clues to the next big thing in AI. Rather than treating'AI' as a single homogeneous discipline (see our guide to AI terminology), the WIPO report divides it into AI techniques, AI functional applications and AI application fields, offering a finer-grained analysis. AI techniques are advanced forms of statistical and mathematical models used in AI, including machine learning, logic programming, ontology engineering, probabilistic reasoning and fuzzy logic. Machine learning is included in more than one third of all identified inventions and represents 89 per cent of AI filings, the report finds. Between 2013 and 2016, filings related to deep learning rocketed by about 175 per cent.

ITRI helps machine tool makers hike product value


Government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has developed a solution based on digital CNC (computer numerical control) to facilitate system integration and expansion of machine tools and robotic arms into work cells that carry higher product prices. Featuring openness and flexibility, the digital CNC allows introduction of value-added software to manufacturing processes and enables machine tool makers to develop proprietary software through SDK, which has helped makers develop various value-added functions such as CNC-embedded modules for simulating 3D cutting, main axis monitoring and remote monitoring, ITRI said. ITRI has cooperated with eight machine tool makers to use the solution in developing high value-added machine tools used in turning, turning plus milling and other machining processes. Through convenient integration of such machine tools into work cells, prices for a machine tool have risen from NT$1.4 million (US$48,440) originally to NT$2.0 million.