U.S. Patent Office Opens Patent Examination Process

It looks like the process regarding patent application and approval are poised for a big change. Peer-to-Patent, an initiative to obtain peer reviews of patents before they are approved, began last week.

Peer-to-Patent is a joint effort between New York Law School's Institute for Information Law and Policy and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). As of last Friday, five applications (from HP, IBM, Intel and Red Hat) were made available for public review on the Peer-to-Patent Web site at http://www.peertopatent.org/.

Today, patent applications are kept secret for a year or until they are approved, whichever comes first. Peer-to-Patent will let individuals identify prior art and assist in either validating or halting applications before they are approved. This may be especially valuable in the software business, where patent applications have exploded over the past decade.

Will peer review kill software patents? Let me know at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

ScriptLogic Introduces New Security Management Features for Office SharePoint Server
Last week, ScriptLogic (http://www.scriptlogic.com) announced enhancements to its Security Explorer product that address security challenges inherent to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

With Security Explorer 6.5 for SharePoint, you can explore a tree view of the SharePoint site, set and search user permissions for SharePoint libraries and files, and edit SharePoint permission levels and SharePoint groups.

Do you use SharePoint? How do you manage the security of your files? Tell me your security stories at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

Sony Blu-Ray DVD Format Wins Converts
In a battle reminiscent of the VHS vs. Betamax wars of the 1980s (yes, I was there for those, too), the Sony Blu-ray high-definition DVD format has scored a significant victory when Blockbuster Entertainment announced it would carry primarily Blu-ray DVDs in its stores (some stores will still carry both formats).

There's a clear demand for higher-definition DVDs, but many buyers are holding off on purchasing new DVD players until they know whether Blu-ray or HD-DVD will emerge as the format of choice (of course, the formats are incompatible). Nevertheless, HD-DVD has a price advantage, costing perhaps half as much as Blu-ray players.

The winner of the high-definition DVD formats will have implications for all of us, as PCs start to come with high-definition DVD drives and software gets delivered on high-def discs.

Do you own a high-definition DVD player? (I confess that I don't.) Do you have a format preference? Send me mail at pvarhol@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Peter Varhol is the executive editor, reviews of Redmond magazine and has more than 20 years of experience as a software developer, software product manager and technology writer. He has graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, and has taught both subjects at the university level.

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