October 2006 Quick Links

By Eric Goldman

* All the media wants to do is talk about Google. All Google, all the time. Three major pieces in the span of three days: The NYT on lawsuits against Google. The WSJ on Google’s hiring practices. The Washington Post on Google’s culture.

* William Slawski discusses some of Google’s patent applications for technologies to minimize trademark liability for keyword-triggered ads. A new patent application (with Google’s senior trademark counsel listed as an inventor!) was recently published entitled “Automated screening of content based on intellectual property rights.” The patent application generally provides a system for bouncing ads that might be infringing. It’s interesting that Google wants to patent this system to keep competitors from using it–Google already stands alone among the major search engines in continuing to permit unrestricted competitive keyword buys.

* Randall Stross on how venture capitalists like to invest their money within a 20 minute drive–one of the reasons why the Silicon Valley community is self-reinforcing. Even now, with fancy virtual technology, geography still matters–a lot.

* I’ve previously blogged on the dark side of consumer-generated content–that it can be a huge liability trap for unsuspecting consumers. And if consumers ever figure this out, we’ll see the supply of consumer-generated content dry up. On that note, a negative peer review of a doctor led to a judgment of $142M against the reviewer, $32M against his colleagues, and $161M against the hospital. The judge haircut this down to “only” $23M, with only $12M coming from the reviewing doctor. With numbers like that, all of us are going to keep our mouths shut!

* Like we couldn’t see this train wreck coming. Utah passes a law that kids’ email addresses can be registered on a do-not-spam list. Whoops, the registry divulged some of these email addresses–gee, thanks for the help protecting the kids from porn spam.

* BusinessWeek has an important article on the impossibility of getting accurate metrics of online activity. If you are drafting web contracts, you as the lawyer absolutely need to clarify whose numbers will govern the contract (and, if the vendor’s number controls, you may want to specify the methods for counting).

* CNET has a goldmine of emails and other documents from the HP pretexting scandal. Great fodder for real-life cautionary tales.

* Pinnacle was busted for running a Ponzi scheme. It turns out that Pinnacle had run ads in major publications like Newsweek and the WSJ. So the WSJ Law Blog surveys 2 experts–are newspaper publishers liable for fraudulent ads provided by their advertisers? Answer: No.

* Los Angeles Boy Scouts can earn a “Respect Copyright” activity patch. See the patch here.

* Braver v. Ameriquest Mortgage Co., CIV-04-1013-W (W.D. Okla. Oct. 20, 2006). Spammer generates mortgage leads, including one from an Oklahoma resident, and resells to defendant mortgage lead broker, who in turn flips the leads to Ameriquest. Mortgage lead broker is based in SC and sued in OK. Court grants broker’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. For more on the plaintiff’s multi-year quixotic legal quest, see here.

* A now-familiar story. Teens party hard. Someone snaps photos and posts to MySpace. School finds out and disciplines partiers. The twist? The school only disciplined the female partiers, leading to a sexual discrimination lawsuit.

* Politicians are being Google-bombed by opponents to advance material critical of them.