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NY Times: Microsoft's Trial Dominated Legal Scene in 1999

Dec 27, 1999, 23:30 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carl S. Kaplan)

"The Microsoft Wars, disputes over the right to hyperlink, panic about children's access to pornography on the Internet. Looking back, which of 1999's events and issues involving technology and the law stand out for sheer long-term significance? Cyber Law Journal asked some experts for their thoughts on what were the two or three most important or interesting cyberlaw developments of the past year. Here are excerpts from some of their clear-eyed answers...."

"The attention Wall Street has been giving to Linux all year is ironic -- as well as having been unpredicted by everyone else -- but it demonstrates that the software business will never be the same again, now that everyone has admitted that the best software things in life are free. The licensing structure of the general public license, which frees everyone to create knowing that everyone can use everyone else's improvements, is the legal structure of software's future...."

"Internet Patents. As expected, some of the first patents on Internet technology and Web sites that were filed at the commercial birth of the Internet several years ago were issued this year and were quickly asserted, including cases against Microsoft by Priceline.com for infringement of its name-your-own-price patent, against Barnes & Noble by Amazon.com...and against Ask Jeeves by two MIT professors.... All smart e-commerce parties are now very concerned about protecting their potentially patentable Internet ideas, as well as building defensive patent portfolios for potential attacks by competitors."

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