FTC Approves Google-YouTube Merger

Posted by Andrew on November 2nd, 2006

According to this news item, the Federal Trade Commission has voted not to challenge Google's $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube.

I haven't yet been able to find notice of the decision on the FTC's Web site, but I'm a little puzzled already that the agency didn't even consider it necessary to issue a Second Request in this case. According to Hitwise, the pre-merger shares of YouTube and Google in the online video market were 45 percent and 11 percent respectively, giving the merger a whopping delta (i.e., increase in the HHI) of 990 points in an already highly concentrated market. I know we've come a long way from expecting the agencies to observe the thresholds stated in their own Horizontal Merger Guidelines, but this is ridiculous.

=> Read more!

A Faustian Bargain for Academia?

Posted by Jay on October 12th, 2006

"When you’re working with the ultimate driving machine, you have to keep on your toes," said James F. Barker, President of Clemson University, as quoted in the New York Times a few weeks ago.

Having forged an alliance with BMW a few years ago to build an International Center for Automotive Research, Clemson has much to look forward to. After all, BMW has already contributed $10 million towards the building of a $1.5 billion center devoted to automobile research and education.

But there are some strings attached.

BMW wanted approval rights over the school’s architectural look, it provided Clemson with profiles of its ideal students, and it gave Clemson a list of professors and specialists that it considered suitable. BMW meets monthly to provide guidance on the curriculum in this graduate engineering program, and it reviews student papers to make sure that proprietary information does not get submitted for publication.

=> Read more!

Iraq War Deaths: Does the Truth Matter?

Posted by Andrew on October 11th, 2006

Another example of the fundamental incompatibility between journalistic balance and peer review as organizing principles for the pursuit of truth. From President Bush's press conference today:

Q Thank you, Mr. President. Back on Iraq. A group of American and Iraqi health officials today released a report saying that 655,000 Iraqis have died since the Iraq war. That figure is 20 times the figure that you cited in December, at 30,000. Do you care to amend or update your figure, and do you consider this a credible report?

THE PRESIDENT: No, I don't consider it a credible report. Neither does General Casey and neither do Iraqi officials. I do know that a lot of innocent people have died, and that troubles me and it grieves me. And I applaud the Iraqis for their courage in the face of violence. I am amazed that this is a society which so wants to be free that they're willing to -- that there's a level of violence that they tolerate. And it's now time for the Iraqi government to work hard to bring security in neighborhoods so people can feel at peace.

No question, it's violent, but this report is one -- they put it out before, it was pretty well -- the methodology was pretty well discredited.

=> Read more!

Looking Like George Allen's America

Posted by Andrew on October 11th, 2006

A letter to the editor in this week's (Oct. 16) Newsweek:

Beyond George Allen's is-it-or-isn't-it racial slur "macaca," his venomous "welcome to America" dig at a Fairfax County-born American who just happens not to look like Allen seems to me more offensive and more indicative of his nativist leanings. I'm not sure why that zinger of Allen's hasn't gotten more media attention. With that one line he has illuminated his view of what America is. -- Sean Riley, Los Angeles, Calif.

To answer Riley's question, media attention has focused on "macaca" because the public imagination has minimal awareness of the continuing prevalence of racism, limiting it to such rare and blatant acts as utterances of the "N-word" (or its Tunisian equivalent). The struggle against racism is thereby deprived of social relevance and relegated to history -- a history that has largely been taught in black and white. Most Americans, including most reporters, have never been asked to rethink their racialized views of "what America is," and certainly have never come to grips with the exclusionary effects of those views on Asian Americans like S.R. Sidarth.

Making Innovation Pay

Posted by Jay on October 4th, 2006

I have been reading a new book, Making Innovation Pay: People Who Turn IP into Shareholder Value, edited by Bruce Berman (John Wiley & Sons 2006), that is both informative and insightful. This edited compendium contains eleven chapters featuring easy-to-read contributions by Bruce Berman, Marshall Phelps, Daniel McCurdy, Peter Detkin, James Malackowski, Ray Niro, Bruce Lehman and Ron Schutz among others. The book is laid out well, and it is a breezy read. Although the target audience is senior executives and managers in the world of business, the book is a very good collection for anyone interested in intellectual property.

The contributors are carefully chosen to provide a wide variety of perspectives topics such as IP management, protecting IP assets, capitalizing on one's patent portfolio, effective corporate patent strategies, the fiduciary obligations of management related to IP, the costs and risks associated with patent enforcement, the uneven playing field for small companies and individual inventors, the quality and uncertainty in patent examination including the lack of international harmonization of patent prosecution rules and examination, and the associated need for reform. Worth the time, money and effort.

The Science Agenda

Posted by Andrew on October 3rd, 2006

A new political action committee, Scientists and Engineers for America, has committed itself to "electing public officials who respect evidence and understand the importance of using scientific and engineering advice in making public policy." Intellectual property and antitrust law don't seem to have made it onto the group's agenda, even though both are of critical importance to the nation's science policy and both have suffered in recent years at the hands of ideology and ignorance. From what I've seen of their "Bill of Rights for Scientists and Engineers," it also looks like they could use a legislative director. But their heart seems to be in the right place.

Jim Webb's Blind Spot

Posted by Andrew on September 17th, 2006

It turns out Jim Webb, Virginia's Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, has the same blind spot regarding Asian Americans that his opponent Sen. George Allen has. Today in a studio debate on Meet the Press, Webb reiterated his argument that whites, Latino/as, and Asian Americans are on a level playing field, and that diversity programs should benefit only African Americans:

African Americans are the only ethnic group in this country that have suffered from deliberate discrimination and exclusion by the government over generations. When this program expanded to the present-day diversity programs, where essentially every ethnic group other than Caucasians are included, then that becomes state-sponsored racism.

This is stuff and nonsense, of course -- and all the more inexcusable from the husband of an Asian American woman.

Tying in Windows Vista

Posted by Andrew on September 15th, 2006

The European Commission's competition directorate is publicly warning Microsoft against extending its practice of bundling security software features into Windows, raising the possibility of an antitrust challenge to the planned introduction of Windows Vista in 2007.

=> Read more!

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