John B.


Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr.


Ian D. Titley

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John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
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Consider the Total Legal and Management Effort Required to Move to the Cloud

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Many businesses are eager to move all or part of their business computing systems into the cloud. Before taking the leap, give thought to the total cost and legal issues associated with such a move. What constitutes cloud computing is fiercely debated, but I define cloud computing as using software and/or data storage that is Read the full article…

Ten Things about the New Patent Law

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The President recently signed legislation that makes big changes to patent law. Here’s a list of ten (hopefully) interesting things about it: 1. The new law is 150 pages long and is vague in many parts. It will take about a decade of judicial interpretation to make this law as clear as our old patent Read the full article…

Will the New Domain Names Matter to Businesses?

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Will the new domain names be a big deal, a big headache or just a big yawn? In case you haven’t heard, the organization that oversees the administration and development of all Internet domain names – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – recently announced final plans to process applications to launch new Read the full article…

The Patent and Trademark Office Desperately Needs Financial Independence

Monday, July 25th, 2011

It’s effectively a Ponzi scheme. It depends on a large stream of payments from new customers to fund serving those who have already paid in full. It has a huge unfunded liability in the form of future commitments for which the government has no backing assets. An economic downturn is calamitous because new-customer payments drop Read the full article…

Online Content Aggregators Win Important Case Against Content Creators

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

A recent federal appellate court decision will impact the struggle between those who produce online content and those who aggregate or repackage that content. Unless and until Congress intervenes, the aggregators and repackagers are in a dominant position. This case concerned a financial news aggregation service called Fly’s business is to obtain the just-released Read the full article…

In Blogging, What is Fair Use of a News Article?

Monday, May 30th, 2011

When you blog, how much of a news article can you reproduce without becoming a copyright infringer? And, if you reproduce too much, what legal consequences might you face? Let’s take the second question first. You might have the view that, if you reproduce too much, you’ll just take it down if someone complains. That Read the full article…

The New Fast Track for Patent Applications Comes at a Price

Monday, April 25th, 2011

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) just launched a program under which you can have your patent application expedited by paying a $4000 surcharge. Using the program could reduce application processing time to a year, which would shave nearly two years off of average application-processing time. But, unless and until the law changes, this Read the full article…

The Hokie Trademark Cattle Are Already Out of the Barn

Monday, March 28th, 2011

Earlier this month, Virginia Tech lost a crucial opening battle in its suit to stop a Blacksburg real estate company from using “Hokie Real Estate” as its name. The case demonstrates limitations on a university’s ability to force every business to pay a license fee to use the school’s nicknames or colors. Virginia Tech essentially Read the full article…

The Domain Name That Got Away, Part II

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Last month, I wrote about how you can backorder a domain name that someone else has registered so that, if its registration expires, you would have a good chance of getting it. But what if you don’t think the current owner will let the domain name registration lapse? What can you do to get that Read the full article…

The Domain Name that Got Away – Getting in on the Domain Name Drop

Monday, January 24th, 2011

Here are two phrases for tech-savvy businesses to add to their lexicon: domain name “drop catching” and “getting in on the drop.” Have you ever wanted to acquire a domain name someone else has registered? You do not own domain names perpetually. You register them for a period of years. If you don’t renew the Read the full article…