Mesh Conference

Will be taking place the same week as Toronto Technology Week. What is it you ask?

mesh is Canada’s Web conference, being held in Toronto on May 30th & 31st, 2007. You will hear from thought leaders, connect with peers, and get a better understanding of the impact of new developments online. mesh brings together people who are passionate about the potential of the Web to change how we live, work and play. Meet the next generation of Web ideas, leaders and companies at mesh.

See the mesh site for more details. Taking place at MaRS.

Toronto Technology Week

Just catching up on a few things. Very quick entry on upcoming Toronto Technology Week:

Toronto’s Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry cluster will come together to celebrate being the largest high-tech hub in Canada and the third largest in North America. During this event, named “Toronto Technology Week” (TTW) a series of activities will be undertaken to showcase the depth and breath of Toronto’s high technology sector. These will include trade shows, seminars and business networking functions, job fairs, an ICT business open door program, school projects, special exhibits and other ICT sector-related activities. An organizing committee formed by ICT industry stakeholders representing a cross-section of this industry, in both the private and public sectors, has been formed to implement this initiative. This event is hosted by ICT TORONTO.

Thoughts on Quantum Computing

Interesting article in Wired News where they interview David Deutsch who they refer to as the Father of Quantum Computing. He has a kind of low key but interesting take on the recent demonstration of a real, live 16 qubit quantum computer by D-Wave, a Canadian company based out of Vancouver.

Low key insofar as he doesn’t seem particularly enthused about the potential of quantum computers, other than perhaps their ability to be used to simulate quantum systems and of course encryption:

Deutsch: It’s not anywhere near as big a revolution as, say, the internet, or the introduction of computers in the first place. The practical application, from a ordinary consumer’s point of view, are just quantitative.

One field that will be revolutionized is cryptography. All, or nearly all, existing cryptographic systems will be rendered insecure, and even retrospectively insecure, in that messages sent today, if somebody keeps them, will be possible to decipher … with a quantum computer as soon as one is built.

Most fields won’t be revolutionized in that way.

Fortunately, the already existing technology of quantum cryptography is not only more secure than any existing classical system, but it’s invulnerable to attack by a quantum computer. Anyone who cares sufficiently much about security ought to be instituting quantum cryptography wherever it’s technically feasible.

Apart from that, as I said, mathematical operations will become easier. Algorithmic search is the most important one, I think. Computers will become a little bit faster, especially in certain applications. Simulating quantum systems will become important because quantum technology will become important generally, in the form of nanotechnology.

(my emphasis). Interesting thought about being retrospectively insecure. Particularly given spy agencies have, in the past, been sufficiently bold to transmit encoded messages on easily accessible shortwave frequencies.

I imagine the spook shops already have their purchase orders in for quantum crypto stuff (or have developed it already internally). Was a bit surprised by the statement above regarding existing technology for quantum computing. I had heard of some demos a while back, but didn’t realize that there are actually several companies offering quantum cryptography products.

Microsoft Patents RSS. Or Tries To. Maybe.

Interesting post on someone else’s blog about Microsoft apparently trying to patent RSS:

The applications, filed last June but just made public yesterday, cover subscribing and discovering what Microsoft calls “Web feeds.” That comes as a bit of a shock to anyone who’s been working on RSS, which has its origins in a format developed seven years ago at Netscape Communications.

Microsoft executive Don Dodge, while not involved in the patent applications, says he suspects the filings were made to defend the company against “patent trolls”. (The filings were made shortly before Microsoft announced plans to build RSS technology into its upcoming Vista operating system.) Still, if granted, the patents would give Microsoft a legal cudgel to wield against other companies using RSS.

Well. They do have a point. Generally speaking, I don’t think patent trolls (those that basically file overly broad patents and then sit on them in a dark cave until someone who actually does something useful, and therefore has deep pockets, unwittingly infringes, at which point the troll comes out and clubs them over the head with a lawsuit or settlement) are a good thing. That being said, its ironic that Microsoft feels the need to abuse the system in the same way as patent trolls in order to proactively defend itself. It will be interesting to see how things turn out.

Unfortunately, I’m not necesarily sure that prior art would necessarily invalidate these patents – after all, most of NTP’s patents were more or less considered invalid, but that didn’t stop them from collecting several hundred million from RIM. And its not like there haven’t been other, um, rather broad patents asserted in the past. You know, like back in 2002, when British Telecom asserted ownership of hyperlinks (which they lost) though of course BT doesn’t quite fit the description of a patent troll.

Then again, it begs the question as to who or what should or shouldn’t be considered a patent troll – for example, its well known that IBM has a huge, gigantic, enormous arsenal of patents at its disposal. IBM also actively licenses these patents (and of course threatens litigation where it believes its rights are being violated), but it isn’t necessarily the case that IBM would otherwise have exploited these patents in what I’ll call “active” business – i.e. making and selling something based on the patent as opposed to primarily seeking royalties and licenses from those do – even though IBM does do so in some cases. So does that make IBM a patent troll? What about Philo T. Farnsworth who, arguably, never started producing televisions but instead sought legal claims against others?

My perhaps overly simplistic take on this is that patent trolls are not inherently the problem, but rather the ability, primarily in the US, to register patents that should have never issued in the first place. If someone comes up with a smart, cool, inventive, and truly novel way of doing something, then they should certainly be free to either produce something with it, or sue the living daylights out of someone else who comes along and infringes the IP even if they don’t (or can’t) make productive use of it themselves. Not actively exploiting a patent is not necessarily tantamount to being a bad guy, IMHO.

It will be interesting to see what happens on this front, if anything. If nothing does, then I may well turn to drafting patents, the first being “Method of Utilizing a Rhythmic Cadence in the Expansion and Contraction of Multiple Muscular Groupings to Faciliate Indefinite Continuation of Metabolism of Cell Structures.” I like the sound of that. Yes indeed.

about

This site was created and is maintained by me, David Ma. For the technical details of the site, please see the colophon. For the details on me, peek at my¬†LinkedIn profile. The short story is that I’m a corporate/commercial lawyer in Toronto, Ontario (Canada), specializing in technology-related transactions and companies.

Why this site? Primarily as an outlet to make personal and informal observations on developments in the technology industry as I see them. And to let me poke around with a little bit of technology.

Views expressed here are solely my own. Don’t rely on anything on this site as if it were legal advice (or for that matter “legal information”), because it’s not. Questions? Feedback? Feel free to e-mail me or contact me through LinkedIn, or if you like, by carrier pigeon.

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Technology Breakfasts

The Toronto Board of Trade has been organizing these great events focused primarily on the Information and Communications Technology sector. The next one will be coming up will be an ICT Forum with Accenture on Wednesday, January 31, 2007.

A brief description:

The Toronto Board of Trade is pleased to present Bill Morris, Country Managing Director, Accenture, as our next featured speaker for our Technology Innovators Series, a showcase for Toronto’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) community.

Bill will highlight outstanding Canadian and international ICT performers and will provide his insight on what it takes to succeed in an intensely competitive and consolidated marketplace. He will share his forecast for the next wave of technology and discuss Accenture’s findings from a global study, encompassing over 6,000 companies, focused on high performance business and high performance information technology.

Bill is responsible for driving the growth of Accenture’s business consulting, systems integration and technology as well as outsourcing businesses across all industries and governments. He has more than 24 years of experience working on technology consulting, business transformation and outsourcing initiatives.

Also taking part in the panel discussion will be Phil Sorgen, President of Microsoft Canada. Phil joined Microsoft Canada as President in January 2006 after a 10-year career with Microsoft Corp. in the United States. Phil is responsible for all elements of Microsoft Canada’s business and for deepening the company’s commitment to this country.

Networking will take place from 7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. and there are no ties required!

Register at the Toronto Board of Trade Website. Well worth it.