Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.

Kurt Vonnegut (via therandomactorg)

Stop patent trolls. Support patent reform in the Senate!

https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=9581

We’re so close to passing patent reform.

The House recently passed the Innovation Act, a bill to stop patent trolls—whose abusive litigation has exploded in recent years, putting a drain on our innovation economy and harming innocent end users. The bill passed with a huge, bipartisan 325-91 vote.

Now it’s time for the Senate to step up. The most prominent legislation is S. 1720, the Patent Transparency and Improvements Act. Let’s make it a stronger bill.

Patent trolls buy up patents and use them offensively against unsuspecting businesses—without creating or selling anything themselves. Making broad claims of infringement based on patents of questionable validity is the troll’s favorite move. Most defendants choose to settle because patent litigation is risky and expensive—and trolls offer settlement amounts that, although still incredibly burdensome, are far cheaper than a lawsuit. Businesses who are targeted—including cafés running Wi-Fi, app developers, offices using scanners, and podcasters—lose both time and money, and innovation suffers.

Here’s what we want:

  • Patent Quality: Broad and vague patents are the underlying problem. We need reforms, like expanding patent review methods and limiting functional claiming, to prevent these patents from existing in the first place.
  • Heightened Pleading: The bill should require patent holders to provide basic details (such as which patents and claims are at issue, as well as what products allegedly infringe and how) when it files a lawsuit.
  • Fee shifting: The bill should allow for a court to require the loser in a patent case to pay the winning side’s fees and costs. This makes it harder for trolls to use the extraordinary expense of patent litigation to force a settlement.
  • Transparency: The bill should include strong language requiring patent trolls to reveal the parties that would actually benefit from the litigation. Also, if the plaintiff is a shell-company patent troll, the defendant could require the real party in interest to join the litigation, forcing them to pay up if the patent troll can’t or won’t pay.
  • Staying customer suits: The bill should require courts to stay patent litigation against customers (such as a café using an off-the-shelf router to provide Wi-Fi) when there is parallel litigation against the manufacturer.
  • Discovery reform: The bill shuts down expensive and often harassing discovery until the court has interpreted the patent, making it easier for defendants to dispose of frivolous cases early before the legal fees and court costs really add up.
  • Demand letter crackdown: The bill should curb the widespread, deceptive sending of demand letters by patent trolls. 

Help us stop patent trolls from gaming the system. Send a message to your senator asking them to support strong patent reform.

Residents Encouraged To Take Niles Parks Survey

From Leader Publications (http://www.leaderpub.com/2014/04/03/residents-encouraged-to-take-niles-parks-survey/):

The Niles Parks and Recreation board has released a survey designed to gain input from residents for the city’s five-year parks and recreation plan.

Residents are encouraged to fill out the survey online by following the link on the front page of the City of Niles website, nilesmi.org.

Hard copies will be sent out with city utilities bills this month. Hard copies should be returned to City Hall, 333 N. 2nd St., Niles.

A direct link to the survey is surveymonkey.com/s/NilesParkRecSurvey.

<Click For More>

Activate!

Who has the time to stay involved, what with the kids and the work and the new episode of Girls?

It can be so easy to lose touch with your community, to allow your government to chug on without so much as a a glance, to stay in your head, in your home, in your bubble.  I mean, come on, everything still seems to be working without you, right?

That charity down the street?  They’re still going with my occasional donation check.  They really don’t need my personal involvement.

My government?  Man, who wants that?!  Have you seen what those politician go through?  Have you seen who those politicians are (man, jerks, am I right)?  And, besides, I vote.  You know, in the major elections.  Well, mostly, when it’s on TV a lot.  And look, the government is still there.  They don’t need me.  That’s why I pay taxes…the ones my accountant says I have to.

And what could I do, anyway?  The world has a lot of problems and most of them are above my pay-grade.  I don’t know how to stop hunger or cure cancer.   Besides, I clicked that thing on Facebook.  I’ve got that ribbon on my car.

Yes, it’s very easy to slip into your comfortable bubble and allow the world to continue around you, with minimal activism.  Every single one of us has an inclination to run home to family, friends and fun after work, leaving the problems of the world to others. But that’s not how it works, is it?

The world will find it’s way into our lives.

Look at the events in Newtown, Connecticut.  Across the nation, we were all affected, on all lines of all beliefs and politics.  As parents.  As gun owners.  As humans.  No single person went through their day unaffected and no person could afford to remain silent.  Even if your opinion after Newtown is to change nothing, you couldn’t afford to remain silent because people were moving to do just the opposite.

I’m not here to direct you toward a particular political belief.  I’m not here to guilt you or call you a lazy, uninvolved sack of skin and guts (that would be rude and anatomically incorrect).

But I am here to tell you that the world does affect you.  The world will come into your home.  And that you can affect the world.  That the world can be a better place, a stronger community…we just need you to join us.

Hey Justin, you’ve convinced me, but now what?

Oh man, the choices.

We don’t all have the knowledge to cure a disease or figure out how to funnel money properly to rebuild Haiti.  We don’t all have the time to sit on a board or run for an office.

  • But what about, once a month, reading to child (call your schools…no really, call them)?

  • How about writing your government? Maybe you can’t be one of them, but you can make sure they know how you feel and how you’ll vote.

  • What about going to your local volunteer center (they have those, it’s like a mall, but with charities instead of stores) and giving up a few hours from time to time?

  • Help build something…join a local group renovating a historical building…call Habitat for Humanity (seriously, those guys are everywhere).

  • Or make your own cause…I’m sure you have one.  What do you want to see changed in the world?  Guess what?  You can change it!

My point is, it’s your world.  Be more than a consumer.  Be a maker.  Be a member.