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The year 1790 was a very different time, but interestingly enough, the first Patent Act passed in the states wasn't that different from today's system. Sure, there were some differences (patent examinations were conducted by the the Secretary of State, the Secretary of War, and the Attorney General, instead of trained patent examiners), but the system then faced some of the same issues that it does now: patentability, jury trials, and fee-shifting.

As a nod to the history of our beloved Patent Act, here are a few of those issues, along with some possible solutions:

Google Glass has been making headlines lately for where it is getting banned, and the company might soon be able to add another place -- the United States Patent and Trademark Office ("USPTO"). OK, a "ban" is too strong a word, but all of Google's efforts thus far to trademark the word "Glass" have fallen short.

Google Glass Trademark

Google has already successfully registered the term "Google Glass," but it is now trying to register the term "Glass" in that slick typeface you may have seen online. But so far, the USPTO has not registered the trademark. Instead, it sent Google a letter citing several issues with the trademark application.

Anyone who's looked at a magazine or ad campaign knows that no one is Photoshop-free. In some cases, photoshopping models goes too far -- so much so that there is a website devoted to "Photoshop disasters." The debate about whether this kind of photo alteration is appropriate because of the effects on women's self-esteem has been ongoing for some time, but now two legislators in the House of Representatives have introduced a bill to curb the practice.

Truth in Advertising Act: The Proposed Bill

The Truth in Advertising Act, if passed, would direct the Federal Trade Commission to study the practice used by advertisers to alter the facial and body characteristics of the people photographed, "and to develop recommendations and a framework to address it." Working with outside groups who have a stake in such legislation -- such as consumer advocates, industry execs, and medical groups -- the FTC would develop a strategy for reducing the use of overly Photoshopped images.

Right now, and for the past week, Austin has been the place to be. With SXSW going on, the annual conference on all things interactive (and musical), the gathering has had its share of legal news. Here are some of the legal highlights of SXSW.

Silk Road Founder's Mom Appeals to Attendees

Last October, Ross Ulbricht, the alleged founder of Silk Road was indicted on charges ranging from money laundering, conspiracy to distribute drugs, and hiring someone to commit murder. Ulbricht's mother, Lyn Ulbricht has made it her mission to help her son, and she's been making the rounds at SXSW, trying to raise money for her son's legal defense, thinking that the "crowd at SXSW would be receptive" to her cause, reports The New York Times. Though she received lots of moral support, there has been no "major uptick in donations," says the Times.

Trolling isn't just a game of porn copyrights and patented copy machines -- there's a whole 'nother league of trolling at the top of tech.

Trolling, of course, is a matter of opinion. You might think that Righthaven was right, or that Apple v. Samsung has gone on way too long, and that both parties should simply duke it out in the marketplace. (Seriously, we stopped caring last year, but somehow, the battle is still raging on.)

Today's major league battle? It was more of a settlement, as Twitter forked over $36 million to avoid a lawsuit, and to purchase 900 patents from IBM, reports Wired.

A trademark and law school parody, all in one app.

It's common knowledge that today's law grads, for lack of a better term, are screwed. Six-figure debt, no jobs, yadda yadda.

And as lawyers, we're often amused by some of the more ridiculous trademark battles out there, like trademarking "candy" and "saga" for all videogames and then going after games that bear no resemblance to your candy-crushing puzzle game. 

Take both jokes, turn them into a game, and you get Intern Saga: Trademark Lawyer.

'Cease and Desist' says Kanye West to Coinye

Kanye West's lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to Coinye founders alleging that the virtual currency website infringed West's trademarks.

Coinye, or the virtual currency formerly known as Coinye West, was conceived by seven anonymous coders. For a man who loves to rant, West let his lawyer do the talking when he sent the letter requesting that the coders stop all activity relating to Coinye West or Coinye, reports The Wall Street Journal.

However, Coinye went ahead and launched its service anyway, but made some adjustments after the cease-and-desist letter was sent.

Last month, we discussed an interesting dispute between AOL's TechCrunch and People+, a startup that helps Silicon Valley professionals connect, in a semi-creepy, Google Glass-enabled world. People+ used TechCrunch's CrunchBase database to pull the contact information needed for their competing product.

Because CrunchBase licensed its content via the Creative Commons Attribution [CC BY] license, it was all legal, as the license only requires attribution back to CrunchBase. Except AOL also had other, more restrictive, terms of service on the API (software pipeline) used to access the data.

Conflicting licenses led to a legal conflict. Fortunately, the conflict was short-lived, as the parties have come to a resolution that should make both sides happy.

In a predictable move, Hotfile and several motion picture studios reached a settlement only six days before heading to trial. With a settlement award of $80 million in favor of the motion picture studios, it's questionable how much Hotfile will actually be able to pay, reports Ars Technica.

Imagine the world's most powerful library catalog. Not only can you search by title, author, or type of book, but you can search for actual text, such as books discussing the culture of rural West Virginia mountain people during the Revolutionary War.

Oh wait, we have that. It's called Google Books. You can run such a search, and you get snippets from such titles as "A History of Appalachia" or "West Virginia: A History." You can even read a paragraph or three to see if the book is a real snoozer. And if you want to read the entire thing, there are links for purchasing the book or finding it in a library.

Pretty brilliant, huh? So brilliant, in fact, that Google got sued by the Author's Guild, a group of copyright holders that claimed Google was trampling their rights. Today, Google prevailed.