CyberRegs: A Business Guide to Web Property, Privacy, and Patents

Author: Bill Zoellick
List Price: $39.99
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ISBN: 0201722305
Publisher: Addison-Wesley Pub Co (04 September, 2001)
Edition: Hardcover
Sales Rank: 320,382
Average Customer Rating: 5 out of 5

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Customer Reviews

Rating: 5 out of 5
Complete IP primer for e-commerce
This is a complete primer on intellectual property and its value to the enterprise. Key issues that are addressed include:

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)- this is probably the most important discussion in the book because it continues to be controversial.

Complete discussions of all aspects of intellectual property law as it pertains to cyberspace. The clarification of the protections afforded to patent holders that are not given to trademark holders is invaluable. In addition, I learned much about the value of patents and how a business model can be developed around patents alone. I particularly liked the discussion of patent ownership (employee inventor vs. company to which the patent was assigned). This alone makes the book worth reading.

Case studies - many of the case studies which are used throughout the book focused on pending court cases when the book was published. Many have now been resolved, the resolution of which open more questions and further cloud issues. I'd like to see an update or second edition that provides closure.

Excellent introduction to technical issues. The author has a knack for reducing the key elements into easy-to-understand chunks of information that teach non-technical readers quite a lot about technology.

If you buy one book on intellectual property law from a cyber-business perspective, this is the one to get.

Rating: 5 out of 5
You don't have to be a lawyer to appreciate CyberRegs
As book titles go, CyberRegs: A Business Guide to Web Property, Privacy, and Patents sounds uninteresting. Fortunately, what the book lacks in flashy titles, it makes up in interesting content. CyberRegs is an engrossing and sometimes angry look at the perverse nature of patent law.

When many people think of the Internet and e-commerce, they think of a series of open and non-proprietary standards that enable computers to speak networking Esperanto. As the book shows, that does not necessarily jive with reality. Many companies have tried to homestead on pioneering technologies and use them to gain a lock on the market. Author Bill Zoellick cites numerous cases -- many still in litigation -- to illustrate this point.

The book starts with a brief background of the nature of copyright and patent law and doesn't assume any type of legal background or expertise. Zoellick's writing style is easy going but to the point, and he accomplishes his goal of examining the disruption and instability that the Web has introduced into the world of intellectual property.

Zoellick looks at the Web from many different perspectives, from business and legal to technological and political. While some may think they don't need a book about Internet law and regulations, the reality is that, for any organization doing business on the Internet, there exists the strong possibility that they may be infringing on someone else's intellectual property rights.

One of the most controversial issues that the book looks at is one-click patents issued to The one-click patents preclude any Internet business that has not licensed the technology from from enabling their customer's to complete their purchasing experience with a single mouse click. The question of whether one-click is even patentable is a controversial one. Those who say it is, feel that is protecting a vital business asset. Those who don't support it say that it only serves to stifle productivity. Zoellick gives numerous other examples.

CyberRegs also goes into such issues as digital signature and privacy. Zoellick does not take sides, but provides a fair-minded look at the debate between greater and lesser control of privacy and the Internet. The book also tackles such controversial topics as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Napster and DeCSS.

In part 3, Zoellick provides an excellent overview of digital certificates. He goes into detail on the parameters around the groundbreaking E-SIGN (Electronic Signatures in Global and National Commerce) act. Many have complained that E-SIGN is extremely light on details and specifics, which it is.However, Zoellick says that with E-SIGN, Congress took the approach that we don't really understand how to do business on the Internet so issues surrounding authentication of electronic signatures are not necessarily easy problems to solve.With that, Congress restricted government action to the parts of the problem where they are directly involved and required.Congress recognized that for any effective solution, markets need time to develop and patience is required. Although this approach is hard when dealing with Internet time, it is nonetheless necessary.

You don't have to be a lawyer to appreciate CyberRegs. Anyone who wants to have a business presence on the Net should read this book so as not to get involved in a legal tussle. While John Grisham may own the legal fiction market, CyberRegs is as close to a non-fiction legal thriller as you can get.

Rating: 5 out of 5
The other side of CI
Although CyberRegs has a much wider audience, my perspective of this book is that of a competitive intelligence specialist. The four topic areas covered, from a CI specialist's point of view are illuminating.

The first two topics, copyrights and patents, are the foundation of intellectual property and by extension, corporate and shareholder value. The author's discussion of both copyrights and patents expose loopholes that can work for or against you, depending on which side you are on. One theme the author repeatedly addresses is the fact that copyright and patent law is lagging behind the technology. He cites numerous case studies, all of which you will either applaud or condemn depending on which side of the issue you happen to be. As a CI specialist who engages in "white ops" (collection of competitive intelligence using legal methods), I was somewhat dismayed by aspects of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because it draws legal boundaries that didn't previously exist. The CI community needs to be aware of this particular law because what was heretofore "white ops" may fall under black ops (illegal intelligence gathering) under the provisions of the DMCA.

The more technical topics, electronic signatures and privacy, are presented in the same balanced and thought-provoking way as copyrights and patents. Having recently read Bruce Schneier's SECRETS & LIES I had some insights into the technical aspects, but the nuances that Mr. Zoellick brings to these topics makes for compelling reading. He manages to raise thorny issues and provide answers from both sides of the issue.

Overall this is an invaluable book that should be read by anyone who seeks to understand the current state of intellectual property laws, the challenges imposed by the connected world, or how the laws and challenges combine to change the playing field. As stated above, the DMCA alone will have wide implications in my profession, and is certain to affect business operations and corporate policy in far ranging ways.

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