Saturday, January 23, 2010

The ethics of writing a "letter to the editor"

One "Ellie Light" has been writing "letters to the editor" in support of President Obama. An issue is that she claims different addresses in the letters. As noted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, variations of Light’s letter ran in Ohio’s Mansfield News Journal on Jan. 13, with Light claiming an address in Mansfield; in New Mexico’s Ruidoso News on Jan. 12, claiming an address in Three Rivers; in South Carolina’s The Sun News on Jan. 18, claiming an address in Myrtle Beach; and in the Daily News Leader of Staunton, Virginia on Jan. 15, claiming an address in Waynesboro. Her publications list includes other papers in Ohio, West Virginia, Maine, Michigan, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California, all claiming separate addresses.

The Plain Dealer quoted Tom Rosenstiel of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri:

"Just because it is inconvenient for us in the news business to find out who people are doesn’t mean it isn’t important anymore,” Rosenstiel said. “It is not OK for people to have multiple identities. This is something that people in the news business and in the business of printing “letters to the editor” need to be aware of.”

Of UMissouri journalism, note the previous IPBiz post

UMissouri journalism prof guilty of plagiarism


Facts, relied upon, must be verified, when challenged
which contains text from a newspaperman:

However, newspapers print falsehoods or dubious assertions on a daily basis. They are contained in material provided by government officials, attorneys, public relations people, letters to the editor, etc.

On the subject of the University of Missouri, note the article by Anthony J. Luppino titled : FIXING A HOLE: ELIMINATING OWNERSHIP UNCERTAINTIES TO FACILITATE UNIVERSITY- GENERATED INNOVATION [78 UMKC L. Rev. 367 ] which discusses
the Galen Suppes matter:

In the pending case of Curators of the University of Missouri v. Suppes, n128 the plaintiff recently addressed this issue in its Suggestions in Opposition to [Defendants'] Motion to Dismiss. The brief explains that:

The University is seeking a declaration from this Court that there has been an automatic assignment of all patentable inventions made by [defendants] [p. 392] during the course of their employment with the University. Such a ruling would allow the University . . ., as assignee, to gain access to all patent applications filed by the defendants in the United States Patent and Trademark Office and to take such actions in the Patent Office as might be needed to protect its rights. n129
In support of its argument that a declaration of "automatic assignment" involves a question of federal patent law over which the federal court has subject matter jurisdiction, the plaintiff cites DDB Technologies, L.L.C. v. MLB Advanced Media, L.P. n130

In DDB Technologies, a patent infringement dispute among for-profit competitors, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals reasoned that "[a]lthough state law governs the interpretation of contracts generally . . . the question of whether a patent assignment clause creates an automatic assignment or merely an obligation to assign is intimately bound up with the question of standing in patent cases." n131 It proceeded to treat the automatic assignment issue as a matter of federal law and concluded that an automatic assignment had occurred because language in the pertinent employment agreement saying the employee "agrees to and hereby does grant and assign" rights to future inventions covered by the agreement "was not merely an agreement to assign, but an express assignment of rights in future inventions." n132 This federal law-based holding on automatic assignment was particularly important in the case because it then followed under applicable Texas law that the actual assignment precluded the assignor from raising arguments of estoppel and waiver against the assignee. n133
Also notable in DDB Technologies is the court's handling of the fact that the employment agreement involved in-cluded, in addition to the key wording of the assignment granting clause quoted above, a provision that, "[e]mployee agrees to execute specific assignments and do anything else properly requested by the Company, at any time during or after employment with Company, to secure such rights." n134 In dismissing the argument that the contract "contemplated an additional act of assignment" rendering inappropriate the conclusion that assignment was automatic under the agreement, the court simply stated, "[w]e see nothing in this clause that conflicts with the clear language of the present, automatic assignment provision in the agreement." n135 Despite the reasonableness of the court's position in this regard, draftspersons of university [p. 393] intellectual property policies charged with creating an automatic assignment would be well-served to include express language to the effect that the assignment is automatic. They should consider stating that the obligation to sign and deliver subsequent documentation is of a further assurances or confirmatory nature; i.e., that such documentation is merely to evidence or confirm ownership that has already been vested in the university. In addition, all parties involved with these types of assignments should consider associated tax implications. n136

Footnote 111 cited IPBiz: See Plaintiff's Suggestions in Opposition to Defendants Suppes' and Homeland Technologies' Motion to Dismiss in The Curators of the University of Missouri v. Suppes, No. 2:09-cv-040120-SOW, 2009 WL 1243935 (W.D. Mo. March 17, 2009); see also IPBiz Blog, Information from Galen Suppes in UMissouri Matter (Feb. 3, 2009), 2009 02 01 archive.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2009) (quoting Professor Suppes); IPBiz Blog, Univ. of Missouri sues ChemE prof over patent rights (Jan. 28, 2009), 2009 01 01 archive.html (last visited Sept. 22, 2009).

In the Suppes case, UMissouri knew, or should have known, of Suppes' previous research activities, which may have given rise to intellectual property rights.


On walking the [scaffold] plank


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