Weird patent: Walking Jacket for Cats

Walking Jacket for Cats Patent

This is a patent for a “walking jacket” for your cat… for when you take your cat on a walk. On a leash. Like a dog.

My mom tried to get her cats used to wearing harness, but she couldn’t find one small enough for them and they hated wearing them. They’re indoor cats and she wanted to be ¬†able to take them outside, but I guess that’ll never happen now.

Anyway, this walking jacket has a collar portion that “prevents the cat from backing out of the walking jacket and thereby prevents escape.” Figure 5 of the patent reminds me of Civil Disobedience Cat.

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Arizona State University’s law school establishes law firm for recent graduates

To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms (New York Times)

Arizona State University has created a law firm for graduates who can’t find jobs in the horrible law school job market. The story said that the Dean wanted to follow a model like a teaching hospital, and I think it’s a good idea, especially for students who didn’t get a chance to take a clinic in law school. Of course, something like this will pad law school employment stats (and I suspect that was a big factor for creating this firm,) but I think it will help young lawyers, so I can’t see it as a bad thing.

Jason Schultz & Jennifer M. Urban: Protecting Open Innovation

Jason Schultz and Jennifer M. Urban, both of the UC Berkeley School of Law, wrote this paper about why Open Innovation Communities have shied away from patents, how they’ve dealt with Intellectual Property Issues, and why they should seriously consider opting back into the patent system.

Protecting Open Innovation: A New Approach to Patent Threats, Transaction Costs, and Tactical Disarmament

Lady Gaga – Lady Gaga Upsets Photographers With Concert Demands

Gaga has requested that concert photographers (that is, the people who are being paid to photograph her concerts) sign a release form before being allowed to shoot her shows. This release form would relinquish the photographer’s copyrights in the photos they take and assign them to Gaga.

Generally, photographers own the copyrights to the pictures they take, and thus retain the rights of distribution and publication. One of Gaga’s releases—she apparently has two of them—requires them to assign the copyright to her, and thus give her the rights over all of their images.

So what’s the problem? Some would argue that the subject of a photo should be able to control how their image is used. However, I think the primary issue is summed up in the article: “The people who get paid $125 to hang out for four hours at a concert have to sign this release. So on top of getting paid very little, they have no ongoing revenue stream from these photos whatsoever.”

In many cases, these photographers’ work is their livelihood. They use expensive equipment and have a specialized expertise and knowledge that allows them to take the best pictures possible in any given environment. Forcing them to relinquish the rights to their work—especially work like this, which could be licensed for Gaga’s promotional materials or sold—would hurt their abilities to make a living, because they wouldn’t be able to get royalties or fees from licensing. They also wouldn’t get the attention that would come with having their name attached to a picture of Gaga that shows up in a magazine or news blog, so there’s a reputation element, too. (On the other hand, if their names are still attached to the photograph, and Gaga’s team undertakes some horrendous editing techniques, that could hurt the photog’s reputation if people don’t know that Gaga is controlling the look of those pictures.)

Gaga always struck me as someone who promoted and appreciated artists—her whole persona is something of a performance art piece, and she always hails individuality. I can only imagine that this move is an effort to further control her ever-changing image; that’s the only justification I can think of to explain this strategy, which might hurt some up-and-coming photographers who don’t have the power to negotiate to retain their copyrights.