Health Care in the Clouds: Not Always Fine on Cloud 9

Many of you are already familiar with the series of individual and topical cloud computing white papers that we launched in 2011. We spent the next months and years compiling these articles into a comprehensive work entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.”

The Consumer Finance Law Quarterly Report previously published two of our articles associated with “cloud-related” legal issues: The first applicable to financial services [65 Consumer Fin. L. Q. Rep. 57 (2011)] and the second related to advertising and marketing [65 Consumer Fin. L. Q. Rep 431 (2011)].

Recently, Joe Rosenbaum and Nancy Bonifant were privileged to have an article they wrote published as the third in the Consumer Finance Law Quarterly Reporter’s cloud computing series, and you can read the article right here: “Health Care in the Cloud: Think You Are Doing Fine on Cloud Nine? Think Again. Better Get Off My Cloud” [67 Consumer Fin. L. Q. Rep 367 (2013)]. The article represents an updated version of the article originally posted right here on Legal Bytes [See Transcending the Cloud - Health Care on Cloud 9? Are You Doing Fine?].

For more information about the implications of cloud computing and technology on health care, privacy compliance, and related legal matters, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or Nancy Bonifant or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work, and we can make sure you get the guidance and help you need to navigate the clouds.

Social & Mobile & Clouds, Oh My!

Joe Rosenbaum recently authored an article that has been published in the Small Business Journal highlighting some of the key issues that have arisen for small to medium-size businesses as a result of the emergence and convergence of these rapidly evolving technological platforms. Joe’s article, "Social & Mobile & Clouds, Oh My!" appears in the March 2014 issue of the Small Business Journal, and you can read "Social & Mobile & Clouds, Oh My!" [PDF] here as well.

If you require legal guidance, support or representation on the issues highlighted in the article, or on any other matters, you can contact Joe directly at jrosenbaum@reedsmith.com; or you should get in touch with the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work. We are happy to help.

WOMD. Now Available at Your Nearby Staples!

I read with interest, recent reports of a 3-D printed hand gun, created by Defense Distributed, being test-fired at a gun range just south of Austin, Texas. Defense Distributed, whose website bills itself as "The Home of the Wiki Weapons Project," fired the gun in front of an observer from Forbes, and you can view the gun, named The Liberator, being test-fired in a video taken during the test and posted on YouTube. Defense Distributed also announced it would post the gun's blueprints and construction details on the company's ownDefCAD design site. For you history buffs, the "Liberator" was also the name of a single-shot pistol designed to be distributed by dropping them from airplanes flying over France during World War II.

The gun isn’t completely plastic – the firing pin is a common metal nail that can be purchased at a hardware store and can be detected by metal detectors – and that single metal nail apparently makes it legal under U.S. law (the Undetectable Firearms Act of 1988; Pub.L. 100–649, H.R. 4445, 102 Stat. 3816). The 3-D printer used to make the rest of the plastic components is a Dimension SST 3D printer made by Stratasys, which apparently now has a U.S. federal license to manufacture firearms.

Continue Reading...

New York E-Retail Ruling May Tax the Supreme Court

This post was written by Kelley C. Miller and Daniel M. Dixon.

On March 21, we posted Clouds Continue To Rain State Tax On Retailers, the most recent in a series of blog posts related to the U.S. state tax implications of cloud computing, e-Commerce and retailing. To keep the thread going, this past Thursday (March 28), the New York Court of Appeals, the highest state court thus far to consider the issue, issued a much-anticipated ruling in Overstock.com v. New York Department of Taxation and Finance (combining two similar cases brought by e-retailers Overstock.com and Amazon.com. At issue is the New York statute that requires the collection of sales or use tax from an e-retailer (a remote vendor) with no physical presence in the state, if, as part of its business model, it pays in-state residents to assist in business solicitation; and the question being litigated is whether that statute violates the Due Process Clause or Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The Trial Court—and now the Court of Appeals—have upheld the law.

Significant to the Court of Appeals’ decision is its deference to the bright-line requirement of physical presence necessary for a state to require sales or use tax collection. This standard was set forth by the United States Supreme Court in Quill v. North Dakota (504 U.S. 298; 1992). Although the Court of Appeals acknowledged that Quill is still applicable even though the “world has changed dramatically in the last two decades,” it nonetheless noted that changing the physical-presence requirement in light of the way e-retailers now conduct their business, “would be something for the United States Supreme Court to consider.” A key issue in the case was whether the in-state residents hired or engaged by Overstock and Amazon, and who were involved in soliciting business – they are often referred to as “affiliates” – were actively soliciting customers in the state or whether their actions were more akin to that of an advertiser seeking to influence buying patterns – conduct that might be seen as more passive and, accordingly, would not meet Quill’s physical presence standard.

Despite hopes that the Court of Appeals might address this issue in its decision, the majority deferred discussion of this important distinction in lieu of a more focused analysis of whether the New York statute was unconstitutional on its face. The court held that a discussion of the affiliates’ activities was not warranted as neither Overstock.com nor Amazon.com could prove there were no circumstances under which the statute could be constitutionally applied: "The bottom line is that if a vendor is paying New York residents to actively solicit business in this state, there is no reason why that vendor should not shoulder the appropriate tax burden."

The dissenting opinion, however, does address the possibility that there could be significant distinctions between those who act as sales agents for a company and those who place advertisements for a company on websites. The dissent noted that mere advertising by a remote seller, through use of an in-state affiliate that might place advertisements on websites, does not meet the Quill test for physical presence. Placing links on websites from within the state to e retailers are advertisements and not solicitations.

Reacting to the decision, Overstock.com indicated that it may ask the United States Supreme Court to review the issue. In a press release issued yesterday by Overstock.com, Acting Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Johnson noted, "Given that courts in other states have upheld U.S. Supreme Court precedent, and struck down similar laws, the matter appears ripe for resolution by the U.S. Supreme Court." To ask the Supreme Court to review the ruling in the case, a petition for writ of certiorari would be due on or before June 26.

The Reed Smith State Tax Team will be closely following developments in this case, including not only the possibility of an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, but also the status of The Main Street Fairness Act of 2013 – U.S. federal legislation currently pending in the House of Representatives (and recently given symbolic approval in the Senate) that would allow states to impose sales and use tax requirements on e-retailers (presumably engaged in inter-state commerce) even if the e-retailer does not have a physical presence in a state.

For more information regarding these developments and to stay on top of the legal wrangling in state taxation related to e-Commerce, contact Kelley C. Miller or Daniel M. Dixon directly. Of course, you can always find out more about our Cloud Computing initiative or get the assistance you need by contacting me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Clouds Continue To Rain State Tax On Retailers

As you may remember, this past January, Reed Smith presented a teleseminar entitled: State Tax Update: States Can Be Taxing in a Digital World, led by Dan Dixon and Kelley Miller, who are leading the charge in keeping clients informed as the worlds of cloud computing and state tax converge - or perhaps we should say "collide."

Increasingly, states are scrutinizing the operations of cloud providers and their cloud-related business activities as they seek ways to force online retailers to collect sales tax from customers. Dan and Kelley have become recognized leaders in this area, closely monitoring all 50 state tax departments within the United States, and the dynamically evolving landscape. Dan and Kelley continue to assist clients, speak and write about new state tax developments, and have been quoted in a variety of media sources, including BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, NPR, NetworkWorld, E-Commerce Times and The Hartford Courant.

Dan and Kelley have prepared a recent Reed Smith Client Alert, entitled “The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, BusinessWeek and Fortune 500 Companies All Agree: No One Knows Taxing the Cloud Like Reed Smith State Tax!” You can read the full alert online “Cloud Computing is Taxing (Web)”, or you can download a PDF version “Cloud Computing is Taxing (PDF).”  As you may also recall, in 2010 Reed Smith launched a cloud computing initiative, commissioning a series of individual white papers, now compiled into a comprehensive work entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.”

For more information regarding this alert or to stay on top of the developments in state taxation related to cloud services, products, and platforms, from Reed Smith lawyers who really know this area, contact Dan Dixon or Kelley C. Miller directly. Of course, you can always find out more about our Cloud Computing initiative or get the assistance you need by contacting me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

State Tax Update: States Can Be Taxing in a Digital World

Please join Reed Smith lawyers Dan Dixon and Kelley Miller Thursday, January 31 at Noon EST (9 a.m. PST; 11 a.m. CST) for "Clouds, Codes, and Crunching Numbers: An Update on Current Multi-State Tax Developments in the Taxation of Electronic Goods and Services." Participants will hear about the latest state developments and trends, including affiliate nexus, “Amazon” legislation, states’ tax treatment of various digital products, software, cloud computing, web-based & web-hosting services, information services, data processing, and sourcing rules for digital goods and services transactions. Don’t miss this timely teleseminar!

Registration link: Click here to register for this seminar.

Annual Registrar Summit - Take the Fifth (Amendment or Bourbon - What's In A Name?)

Just last Thursday, I had the joy of attending and presenting at the Fifth Annual Registrar Summit (2012) sponsored by GoDaddy.com. A great group of people gathered to discuss the current state of domain name registration. Kicked off by a terrific “how to properly hold a meeting of competitors without running afoul of anti-trust and competition laws” presentation by Chris Compton, the topics ranged from what ICANN is up to these days, to discussions of authentication, security, phishing, malware and what the domain name registration community is trying to do about it.

As I always attempt to do, when permitted, I post a PDF version of my presentation for all to read, and, if you choose, to download a personal copy in PDF form. So, without further ado – feel free to browse through “What's in a Domain Name? Registration by Any Other Name Would Still Create Legal Issues (subtitled “Clouds, Mobile & Internet Domains – What Me Worry?” [PDF] (The embedded videos have file sizes that are too large to include – so next time show up in the audience and you’ll see them.)

If you want to know more about anything covered in the presentation, or if you need counsel or help navigating the legal issues, feel free to call me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or any of the Reed Smith lawyers with whom you regularly work.

Taxing Storm Clouds Gather Over Utah

In June 2010, we announced the launch of an initiative focusing on Cloud Computing ('Transcending the Cloud' - Reed Smith Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing), showcased with a series of individual and topical white papers, in time being compiled into a comprehensive work entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” One of the first in our series was a paper on the state tax implications of cloud computing, entitled: “Pennies From Heaven”

Just as clouds have different shapes, sizes and shades of gray, different states are approaching taxation of cloud transactions differently. Well now, our State Tax practice reports that taxing storm clouds are gathering over Utah. In a marked about-face from the state's previously issued guidance, the Utah Sales Tax Commission has ruled that web services that charge a fee constitute sale of a service, subject to sales tax. The implication being that mere access of or to an application is enough to subject the provider to a tax liability.

Notable for cloud computing providers, even though the product at issue was access to remotely hosted software that allowed users to conduct webinars "in the cloud," allowing customers to download a free device application for access to that service had the state seeing "software" (sales of which are subject to sales tax in Utah). With at least one state looking at clouds from the application side now, it will be interesting to see if other states quickly follow.

For more information about the Utah ruling, or to stay on top of the developments in the taxation cloud products and platforms, visit www.taxingtech.com. To get legal assistance and guidance from someone who really knows that state of state taxation of cloud computing, contact Kelley C. Miller directly. Of course, you can always find out more about our Cloud Computing initiative or get the assistance you need by contacting me, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.
 

BNA Highlights Health IT Issues Raised by Reed Smith Attorneys

The August 29, 2011 issue of BNA’s Health IT Law & Industry Report (Vol. 3, No. 36), describes some of the major legal and contractual issues raised when health care industry companies and professionals are considering moving to a cloud computing environment. Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum was interviewed by the author, Kendra Casey Plank, for her article, entitled, “Attorney: Cloud Services Offer Affordable Solutions but Raise Privacy, Security Risks.” The article not only quotes Rosenbaum extensively, but also refers to Reed Smith’s White Paper series “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” which began in June 2010 (see "Transcending the Cloud" - Reed Smith Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing). The series is updated regularly with individual articles on topics ranging from government contracting and state tax, to the most recent White Paper entitled, “Health Care in the Cloud – Think You Are Doing Fine on Cloud Nine? Hey, You! Think Again. Better Get Off of My Cloud,” which Rosenbaum and Reed Smith Associate Vicky G. Gormanly wrote and which was posted on the Legal Bytes blog August 5, 2001 (Transcending the Cloud - Health Care on Cloud 9? Are You Doing Fine?). What’s the state of your health care compliance? Are you doing fine?

Read the White Paper and, if you have any questions or need help, contact Joe Rosenbaum or Vicky Gormanly, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Transcending the Cloud - Health Care on Cloud 9? Are You Doing Fine?

If you are a music aficionado, you will remember that years ago, The Temptations sang “I’m Doing Fine on Cloud Nine.” 

 

 

If you are a health care provider paying attention to the buzz about cloud computing, you may be concerned about migrating your technology, your data and your applications to a cloud environment.  Or, let’s say you are just confused about the implications. You are not alone.

That’s precisely why our Cloud Computing initiative exists. To provide you with a guidance system – navigational tools to allow you to see sunshine, even on a cloudy day. So, as part of our ongoing commitment to keeping abreast of legal issues, concerns and considerations in the legal world of cloud computing, here, from Vicky G. Gormanly and Joseph I. Rosenbaum, is the next chapter in Reed Smith’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” entitled “Health Care in the Cloud – Think You Are Doing Fine on Cloud Nine? Hey, You! Think Again. Better Get Off of My Cloud.” This white paper examines the considerations and concerns that arise for the health care industry and the industry’s associated suppliers, vendors and providers in the wake of complex and evolving regulation and scrutiny – most notably, in the privacy and data protection of medical information – of electronic health records.

As we do each time, we have also updated the entire work, so that in addition to the single ‘Health Care in the Cloud’ white paper, you can access and download a PDF of the entire “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all the previous chapters in one document.  After reading the article, instead of doing fine, you just may want to take the advice of The Rolling Stones and "Get Off of My Cloud" until you consult your legal advisors.

 

 

Of course, feel free to contact Vicky Gormanly or Joe Rosenbaum directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to this white paper. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

The State of Cloud Computing Can Be Taxing - Want to Understand Why?

Back in June 2010 - more than a year ago - we announced the launch of a new Reed Smith initiative focusing on Cloud Computing (see 'Transcending the Cloud' - Reed Smith Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing),showcased with a series of individual and topical white papers, in time being compiled into a comprehensive work entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” As most of you know, this brave new world, with new providers, new economic models, new access plans, and broadened capabilities, has grown, and over the past year we have released nine individual white papers, with more on the horizon and updates to existing papers as the legal and technology environments evolve. One of the first in our series was a paper on the state tax implications of cloud computing entitled: “Pennies From Heaven.”

Just letting you know our State Tax Practice is hosting a Reed Smith teleseminar on recent developments in state taxation on the subject, and you can view the invitation and sign up through the registration link on the invitation. Just head to: “Clouds, Codes and Crunching Numbers: An Update on Current State Multi-State Tax Development and Trends in the Taxation of Electronic Goods and Services” and sign up today!

Of course, make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information; and if you have any questions about our Cloud Computing initiative or need help, feel free to contact me, Joe Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work. We are happy to help.

Transcending the Cloud - Advertising & Marketing Make Rain

This post was written by Joseph I. Rosenbaum and Keri S. Bruce.

As part of our ongoing commitment to keeping abreast of legal issues, concerns and considerations in the legal world of cloud computing, most of you know we have been publishing regular topical updates to our Cloud Computing initiative – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Reed Smith attorneys bring to bear when new and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues. If you didn’t know, re-read the previous run-on sentence!

So here, from Joe Rosenbaum and Keri Bruce, is a glimpse at some issues that apply to the world of advertising and marketing arising from Cloud Computing. This next chapter in Reed Smith’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing,” is titled “Cloud Computing in Advertising & Marketing: Looking for the Silver Lining, Making Rain.” This white paper tries to examine the considerations and concerns that arise within the advertising and marketing industries in the wake of complex and evolving regulation and scrutiny. We hope it provides some insight into the issues and the factors that apply, even as the industry and the regulatory landscape continue to evolve.

As we do each time, we have updated the entire work so that, in addition to the single "Advertising & Marketing" services’ white paper, you can access and download a PDF of the entire “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, up to date and including all the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Joe Rosenbaum or Keri Bruce directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to advertising and marketing. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. And if you ever have questions, you can always contact any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Cloud Computing - Clouds Can Sometimes Be Storm Clouds

This post was written by Joe Rosenbaum and Adam Snukal.

Among others news publications, CNN Money just recently reported that Amazon.com’s cloud-based Web service EC2 suffered a “rare and major outage” this past Wednesday that affected several online sites it supports, including Reddit, HootSuite, Foursquare and Quora. Amazon.com hosts many major websites on its servers through its cloud-based service and, in total, “[t]housands of customers hitch a ride on Amazon's cloud, renting space on its servers.” The recent outage crashed several customer sites and created glitches of varying degrees on others.

As cloud-based Web services have proliferated, the risks associated with major outages for companies dependent on cloud-based services have become a reality. This recent outage, and potentially others like it, could create reputational risk not only to the cloud providers, but also to those who use the cloud computing services of those providers for their technology infrastructure – processing, applications and data – exposing them to contractual liabilities for failure to meet promised service levels, breaches of performance representations and warranties, and even potential security and data breaches. All these and more, possible legal and contractual problems arising from the use of and reliance on cloud computing. These potential risks should be eliminated or mitigated, and while contracts cannot always guarantee operational integrity or performance, they can provide indemnities and remedies that offer a measure of protection or mitigation in many circumstances.

Reed Smith has been at the forefront of cloud computing legal thought-leadership and risk-mitigation strategy for our clients. Our lawyers have significant U.S., international and multinational experience in implementing strategies, such as service level agreements and risk-mitigating tools that help limit risks associated with cloud-based computing and cloud service outages. Indeed, to appreciate the risks, one need only look to one of the very first articles by Rauer Meyer, entitled When the Cloud Bursts – SLAs and Other Umbrellas, drawn from Reed Smith’s on-going series – one that you can view or download entirely in up-to-date form – entitled "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing." You can access and download a PDF of the individual article or the entire "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing" compendium, up to date and including all of the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Christopher G. Cwalina or Daniel Z. Herbst or Joe Rosenbaum or Adam Snukal (or the Reed Smith lawyer with whom you normally work) if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information.

Darwin Was Right. It's All About Biology!

I have been stupid. It's everywhere and I couldn't see it. I'm looking at trying to invest my hard-earned dollars and wondering about the future of mobile and social media and technology. Hmmmm, maybe I should pour some money into that sector of the economy. But how to decide – price-to-earnings ratio, market multiple, return on equity, assets, sales? Then it dawned on me. Shhhh .. . I'll let you in on a secret I discovered. It's biology – natural selection, evolution, survival of the fittest – Charles Darwin was right.

Think about it. Sony says "It's in our DNA." Twitter is for the birds. Social media is in your Face(book). Think it stops there? No way. Apple – the original sin. Gone viral – my anti-virus software has been in use for years. Make a firewall to stop it from spreading. Cookies? Baked to perfection! Who gives a Hoot(suite)? Oh and if you think the Droid or Android are not part of the mix, just watch Star Wars for those artificial parts, artificial intelligence and artificial sweeteners. 

My blog has gone viral along with YouTube videos. Word of mouth marketing – even the blog conjures up images of Steve McQueen in a very old movie ("The Blob"– who remembers, raise your hands). Hear the buzz – not the sound of bees, but rather the web browsers. Firefox? How about the wireless photographic memory cards from Eye-fi? Did I mention cloud computing – is that cloud 9 or should I get off my cloud as the Rolling Stones asked me to do many years ago?

Not convinced yet? Just the other day researchers at IBM announced that they have developed a nanoparticle that has the ability to target and destroy bacteria that has otherwise proved to be resistant to antibiotics. Now I originally thought a nanoparticle was something harvested from Ork, the planet made famous by Robin Williams in the television series "Mork & Mindy." But apparently, nanoparticles are itsy bitsy particles, so small you could fit tens of thousands of them on the head of a pin.    

So all you investment advisors, financial analysts, brokers and day traders, watch out. Pick the biologically named company of choice or, better yet, start a company, and watch it evolve, grow, mature and hopefully not crash before I sell. I personally am not surprised that Jim Beam has been around since 1795! 

Transcending the Cloud - Financial Services: Show Me the Money!

This post was written by Joseph Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal and Leonard Bernstein.

Welcome to the New Year. As they do each year, clouds, together with some sunshine (and a cold winter blast periodically in our Northern Hemisphere), roll in, too.

Last year we published a number of topical updates to our Cloud Computing initiative – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Reed Smith attorneys bring to bear when innovative and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues.

So here, from Adam Snukal, Len Bernstein, and Joe Rosenbaum, is a glimpse at some issues that apply to the world of financial services arising from Cloud Computing. This next chapter in Reed Smith’s on-going series, "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing," is titled "Look, Up in the Cloud, It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Bank." This white paper examines the issues that arise within financial services institutions in the wake of complex and evolving regulation and scrutiny, and we hope it provides some insight into the considerations and concerns that apply, even while the industry and the regulatory landscape are still evolving. A special note of thanks to Anthony S. Traymore, an Advertising Technology & Media associate and a good friend and colleague, who has now joined the legal department of a Reed Smith client. Anthony was instrumental in helping put the initial topical white paper draft together while at Reed Smith, and we like to give credit where credit is due – both here and in the white paper itself. Thanks Anthony.

As we do each time, we have updated the entire work so that, in addition to the single "financial services" white paper, you can access and download a PDF of the entire "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing" compendium, up to date and including all of the previous chapters in one document.

Of course, feel free to contact Adam Snukal, Len Bernstein or Joe Rosenbaum directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to financial services. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. And if you ever have questions, you can always contact any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Net Neutrality? Much Ado or Nothing To Do?

Here is how Wikipedia (as of January 4, 2011) defines "Network neutrality":

"Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a buzzword used to describe a principle proposed for users' access to networks participating in the Internet. The principle advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication." The Wikipedia article, which goes on for pages, and with more than 100 footnotes and citations, then says, "The principle states that if a given user pays for a certain level of Internet access, and another user pays for the same level of access, then the two users should be able to connect to each other at the subscribed level of access."

Now I confess. Lawyers are often accused of writing 1000 word manifestos and calling them "briefs," but I have read and re-read the definition and the ensuing pages of "clarification." I've paid attention in the media and to learned articles. I have no clue what "net neutrality" means. I do, however, take comfort in the fact that if you read the Wikipedia article, and dozens, if not hundreds of other articles, you will see that nobody really has a well-defined meaning of what "net neutrality" is.

But good news. I think I know why all of this confusion exists. It's actually pretty simple. Take the words apart. When you think of the Internet and World Wide Web – references now include wireless and mobile as part of this amorphous, nebulous cloud (oops, another buzzword) – it's simply hard to define. It is dynamically evolving. It has features, functions and uses that morph almost daily. The devices change. The transmissions change. "Internet" has different meanings for different people, from different perspectives, at different points in time, and even the names and categories of parties injecting themselves into the debate are changing.

Then there's "neutrality." What does that mean? Switzerland is neutral. Is it? Everybody on board? Any questions? Good. We all know what that means – especially when referring to the Internet. Right? Technology? Economics? Pricing? Access? Shall we go on? I think not. Perhaps government regulators use the term "neutrality" because it is a term often applied to conflict – wars. Perhaps there is a war going on. A turf war over which government agency gets to control what and who and where and when – not to mention who wants to tax it. Darn, I promised not to mention taxes.

In recent years, the FCC has sought to take the lead in being an advocate for "net neutrality," despite having its share of difficulties with the courts. Undeterred, in December, the FCC released a new report proposing "net neutrality" – a proposal to regulate the Internet. [See, e.g., cnet news article FCC makes Net neutrality rules official.] Remember how easy it is to define the Internet? The vote was hardly unanimous: 3–2. Have you read the FCC document? Almost 200 pages. The legal standard for regulation: "reasonableness."

Now I confess I did start to salivate reading the report. Think about it. We are lawyers. Who wants certainty? Think of all the litigation and dispute, the angst, the risk memoranda, and the frantic consultations that might be avoided if there was certainty. No, no, who am I to call for clarity.

The discussion reminds me of a wryly humorous tale of an architect, engineer and lawyer, all debating what profession the Lord would have chosen. The architect extols the talent necessary to envision and lay out detailed plans for the creation of heavens and earth and everything within – surely a task for an architectural genius. "Nay," cries the engineer. The greatest master builder that ever was and ever will be. "Who else could possibly build such glorious work? Who else could bring such magnificent order out of such utter and sheer chaos?" exclaims the engineer. Quietly the lawyer looks up and whispers, "First and foremost, the Lord would have been a lawyer." Quizzically, the two peer over at the attorney for an explanation. The lawyer lowers the reading glasses and whispers, "Who else could have created such utter and sheer chaos?"

So I'm risking my own self-interest to say, please, FCC Chairman Genachowski and all the others at the FTC, the Department of Commerce – I'm not even going to go overseas for this one. Please end the meaningless war over what, who, why, how, where and when the Internet needs to be controlled in order for it be "neutral." Stop! Nobody knows what you mean or what it means. Change words. Change focus.

How about "net vitality"? Worry about innovation. Encourage competition. Stimulate commercial robustness. Protect the helpless, the vulnerable – intervene where you must, no argument. But IMHO, in this case, less is more. Bayless Manning, former Dean of Stanford Law School and past president of the Council of Foreign Relations (although in a different context), summed up the problem best when he noted, "As batting averages are to baseball players, stars to restaurants, ribbons to generals and stock price to corporate executives, so new statutes are at the heart of the scorekeeping system by which legislators are measured and measure themselves. No legislator ever gained renown as a great non-law giver." Perhaps this too can change.

Looking Ahead to 2011: If Brevity Be the Soul of Wit

A line recited by Polonius in Shakespeare's Hamlet (1602) comes to mind today. It's the phrase "since brevity is the soul of wit . . . I will be brief." FYI, Polonius is a windbag in the play. There is also another phrase, often wrongfully attributed to Franz Kafka, that goes something like "lawyers are the only creatures that can write 1000 pages and call it a brief."

Well, here we are at the end of 2010. Those of you who have been reading faithfully know that each year, I create a Legal Bytes piece with no hypertext links to distract you; no citations; no dazzling factoids; and no breaking news stories. This time, I've decided to do something different. I am going to be brief. Instead of philosophy or predictions, I'm going to give you 10 words I believe may stimulate YOUR thinking about 2011. That's it. I trust you. Most of you are sharper than I anyway.

You don't have to buckle up or fasten your seat belts. Pull up a chair, open your BlackBerry, Kindle, Droid, iPhone, PC, Laptop, Netbook, Web-TV, PDA, Tablet or whatever your favorite Legal Bytes' reading device might be; grab an espresso, a glass of tea (or whatever your liquid of choice might be); sit back and enjoy. Here goes:

  1. Mobile
  2. Behavior
  3. Privacy
  4. Social
  5. Cloud
  6. Neutrality
  7. Monetize
  8. Consolidate
  9. Engagement
  10. Global

That's it. Oh, there is another word – profile – but that's the subject of my first Legal Bytes blog for 2011. You will just have to come back for it!

 

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for 2011!

Transcending the Cloud - Tying Up Cloud Antitrust Issues in a Bow

As you know, we have been updating our Cloud Computing initiative with a consistent stream of information – new chapters and white papers intended to provoke thought, stimulate ideas and, most of all, demonstrate the thought leadership Reed Smith attorneys bring to bear when new and important trends and initiatives in the commercial world give rise to new and interesting legal issues. Often, especially when words like "privacy" and "security" are thrown about, it becomes easy to overlook some of the other issues lurking in the background.

So here, from Jeremy D. Feinstein, is a glimpse at some antitrust issues. This next chapter in Reed Smith's on-going series, "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing," is titled "Tying Up the Cloud," and seeks to give you some insights into the potential antitrust and competitive issues that even customers should be aware of, if not concerned with, when considering entering the cloud.

As we continue to do, we have updated the entire work so that, along with the single chapter on "Tying Up the Cloud" applicable to antitrust, you can now access and download the PDF of our complete "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing" compendium, up to date and including all the previous chapters in one document.

Feel free to contact Jeremy D. Feinstein directly if you have any questions or require legal counsel or assistance related to competition or antitrust. Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can contact me, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, or Adam Snukal, or any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Transcending the Cloud - Cloud Coverage (Insurance for a Rainy Day)

As part of our Cloud Computing initiative, we promised to tackle some issues that have seen little coverage elsewhere and can often be overlooked in the “technological” arena. Here is a look at the insurance coverage issues representing our next chapter in Reed Smith’s on-going series, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” This White Paper and Chapter takes a look at the insurance coverage implications of cloud computing, and is aptly titled “Cloud Coverage.”

We would like to thank Richard P. Lewis and Carolyn H. Rosenberg for their thoughtful and practical insights and effort. Feel free to contact them directly if any questions arise or if you need help or more information. As we continue to do, we updated the entire work so that in addition to the single chapter on “Cloud Coverage,” you can access the PDF of our “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, receiving a complete update, including this one on insurance coverage.

Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or Adam Snukal, or any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Transcending the Cloud - The German Perspective

As part of our Cloud Computing initiative entitled, we take a step over to Europe and proudly present our next chapter in Reed Smith’s on-going series “Cloud Computing - A German Perspective.” This white paper and chapter, takes a look at cloud computing from a German and, to some extent, potentially representative European perspective. It’s a refreshing look at both some legislative and regulatory implications, as well as a view from outside the United States.

We would like to thank Thomas Fischl and Katharina A. Weimer in our Reed Smith Munich office for their insight and effort. Feel free to contact them directly if any questions arise or if you need help or more information. As we continue to do, we updated the entire work so that when you access the .PDF of our “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” compendium, you will receive all of the sections, now updated with this chapter from Germany.

Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact me Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal, or any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Every Cloud Has a Lining - Maybe a Legal One

Stimulated by the recently launched Reed Smith Cloud Computing initiative, Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum was interviewed by CFO U.S. reporter David McCann, and in the August 10, 2010, Today in Finance section, you can read the entire interview, "The Cloud's Legal Lining".

You can also read and download a current copy of all of the white papers in our ongoing series, "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing." Be sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with the latest and most updated version, as new white papers on additional topics are released. Of course, if you have questions, you can always contact Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum directly, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

E-Discovery in the Cloud: Next Installment in Transcending the Cloud

As part of our Cloud Computing initiative, we are proud to present the next installment and chapter in our on-going series, "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing." This White Paper and Chapter, entitled E-Discovery in the Cloud, takes a close look at some of the challenges that lie ahead in the world of discovery, when information and applications are processed, stored, accessed and used in a cloud-computing environment.

We would like to thank Jennifer Yule DePriest and Claire Covington for their hard work in putting this together, and you should feel free to contact them directly if any questions arise or if you need help or more information. As we have in the past, we have also updated the entire work so that when you access the PDF of our "Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing" compendium, you will receive all of the sections, now updated with this "E-Discovery in the Cloud" chapter, and you will have our updated and growing body of legal and regulatory insight into Cloud Computing.

Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact me Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal, or any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Cloud Computing: 'Transcending the Cloud' Adds Government Contracting Case Study

Last week, Legal Bytes announced Reed Smith’s new global initiative, Cloud Computing. With that announcement, the Task Force released the first three in a series of white papers entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.” We also promised to release “case studies” shortly after the white papers, to demonstrate how the insights in each paper have practical implications through case study examples.

Here is the first: A case study on government contracting, now attached to the white paper entitled, “The Risks and Rewards of a U.S. Federal Government Contractor Employing a Cloud Service Provider to Perform a Federal Government Contract,” authored by Lorraine Campos, Stephanie Giese and Joelle Laszlo. Contact them if you need to know more about this important area of cloud computing.

We will update each individual paper, as well as the compendium, as each paper, case study and update is released, so make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with the latest information. Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact me Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal, or any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

'Transcending the Cloud' - Reed Smith Announces White Paper Series & Legal Initiative on Cloud Computing

This post was written by Joseph I. Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal and Douglas J. Wood.

For those of you who have wondered why Legal Bytes has been so quiet recently, it’s because I, and my colleague Adam Snukal, have been hard at work coordinating and putting together a new initiative – Cloud Computing.

Today, we are proud to announce the launch of a new Reed Smith initiative focusing on Cloud Computing and showcased with our new series of white papers entitled, “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing.”  The term “cloud computing” is showing up with greater frequency, but there is still much confusion and unawareness of what it means, and, more significantly for our purposes, how it is affecting and will increasingly affect you.  In the decade ahead, cloud computing likely will affect everyone, from major multinational corporations to consumers; from governments to the local grocery store. 

But cloud computing, like social media, is ultimately not about technological innovation or novel or transformative invention – it is about changing the fundamental nature of our relationships and how all of us access and use information and application programs: at work, in school, at play, as we shop and as we grow.  Cloud computing is transformative because it will enable anyone, anywhere and at any time, to access, use and create information and content – whether working on a spreadsheet, collaborating on a graphic design, creating an online gaming program, searching for a new restaurant, streaming music, or watching a motion picture – independent of a robust processing device.  No longer tied to desktops, laptops or proprietary pieces of equipment – just plug into the wall, as you would for electricity, and it’s there.  All you need is the ability to enter commands (input) and to display and receive (output) the results.  No plugs, no problem.  Just as sending and receiving transmissions wirelessly occur today, so too will the devices that access the cloud. 

In this brave new world, there will be new providers, new economic models, new access plans, and broadened capabilities, at differential pricing.  On demand, subscription, tiered pricing (anyone remember the timesharing companies of the late ‘60s and ‘70s?) will likely return to fashion in a world of cloud computing.

As mentioned above, the Cloud Computing Task Force at Reed Smith has created a series of white papers – collectively entitled “Transcending the Cloud: A Legal Guide to the Risks and Rewards of Cloud Computing” – to elucidate the opportunities and dangers, the risks and rewards of cloud computing.  Our collection of white papers will cover cloud computing issues you may have heard little about, but that are and will be no less significant.  Will we still need backup on our devices?  What about cloud insurance?  New economic and business models mean – yes, you knew this was coming – new taxes.  What about security and privacy and data protection in the cloud?  We will worry about standards and interoperability.  No one provider can possibly cover the world or a world of data and applications – mobile phone carriers interexchange based on regulations over decades; Internet protocols evolved to ensure that email and other providers would enable individuals to communicate regardless of proprietary networks or email programming.  Will clouds evolve the same way?  Will there be barriers to entry as a cloud provider?  Infrastructure is expensive; global capability more so.  Providers will vie for cloud apps.

Our approach is also unique.  Today, we are launching our initiative.  An introduction and three exciting new introductory white papers all dealing with the cloud: government contracting, tax and service levels, and other contractual performance protections.  We will release case studies in the weeks ahead, providing practical examples based on the white papers and insights into how law and regulation is likely to affect each of these areas.  Where answers are available, we’ll tell you.  Where they are not, we’ll be insightful.  We have assembled a multi-jurisdictional, cross-disciplinary team, a task force of lawyers and professionals dealing with the issues arising in Cloud Computing.  In the weeks and months ahead we’ll keep releasing white papers – antitrust and competition law, e discovery, litigation, insurance, contract law and regulatory compliance.  We will not only deal with U.S. law, but will also provide you with contributions from our lawyers around the world.  Each release will not only provide an individual chapter that is the subject of the release (today we have Government Contracting, Tax and SLA/Performance Protection), but also an updated comprehensive copy of the growing compendium.  Transcending the Cloud will dynamically provide insights as the industry and challenges grow.  Keep a copy handy.  Make sure you check back for updates regularly.  Join us in the conversation.

I want to thank my colleague Adam Snukal for his steady hand and keen insight in helping me to put this Cloud Computing initiative together.  And Kevin Vaarsi, our marketing guru, who coordinated much of the logistics and the planning for our initiative.  Most important, as you will see today and in the months ahead, a team of Reed Smith lawyers who have invested countless hours and done significant research to contribute these white papers and bring you their insights – none of this would be possible without them, and each paper will have names, contact information and biographical information about these terrific professionals.  As our body of work grows, we will make each white paper available as a separate PDF, but we will also update our “Transcending the Cloud” compendium for those of you wanting a constantly updated and growing body of legal and regulatory insight into Cloud Computing in one place.  Make sure you subscribe via email or get the Legal Bytes RSS Feed so you are always in touch with our latest information.  Of course, if you ever have questions, you can always contact me Joseph I. ("Joe") Rosenbaum, Adam Snukal, or any Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

Are There Clouds in Your Future?

Check out MediaPost’s SearchBlog yesterday (A Dream Cloud Computes The Future), which recounts the conversation Joe Rosenbaum had with reporter and blogger Laurie Sullivan about the future of cloud computing. Need to know more about the legal implications and issues? Call Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

When the Fog Lifts, Don't Be Surprised if You Still See Clouds

“If computers of the kind I have advocated become the computers of the future, then computing may someday be organized as a public utility just as the telephone system is a public utility . . . The computer utility could become the basis of a new and important industry.”

                                      John McCarthy, MIT Centennial, 1961

“Cloud computing” is a term used to describe the use of computer resources not solely as a communications protocol (e.g., the Internet), nor solely as a content or transaction host (World Wide Web), but as an application development and information processing service. To help explain further, to send an email, much like using the telephone, it makes no difference who your provider or host is or which carrier you use. There is a protocol that allows interoperability across networks and processors, and as long as the sender and recipient have an email address and access to an Internet connection, the email gets through. On the web, with access to the Internet and a browser (technology that displays content and functionality hosted at a particular Internet address), you can interact with the website – you can see the material displayed and you can "select" (click) to enable certain features.

Today, as a general rule, if you wanted to create, edit, spell check, save, send or share most content or information with someone, unless you plan on typing and formatting a very long email, you still need word processing, spreadsheet or presentation software programs to create and upload (communicate or store for display), or to see and use content that you might download. In a cloud-computing environment, all of these functions are resident in the "cloud." Imagine that you no longer needed a desktop or laptop computer processor, and all you had were input and display devices (e.g., keyboard, mouse, monitor), which you could either carry or borrow wherever you went. Plug into a universal "outlet," enter your unique pass codes and authentication information, and you have everything you need – where and when you need it. Like telephone, electric or gas service, computing becomes a commodity accessible virtually anywhere and anytime, generally priced by usage, the applications, and the amount and type of storage for which you want and need access.

Cloud-computer services can be sold and paid for using plans not dissimilar to phone service – per call, per minute, unlimited, features, functions – and they disaggregate the user, whether individual or business enterprise, from the procurement, maintenance and operations of the underlying processors and software programs. Clouds can be public – made available to anyone on demand (think Wi-Fi registration based hot spots) or private (large companies can operate or arrange to have someone operate a closed-cloud environment). I summarize the basic characteristics of cloud computing as follows:

  • Flexibility – the user can easily modify use, resources, demand, access and virtually every other resource, without the need to purchase or dispose of any equipment or software, other than input and output devices. Increases or decreases in processing, development, storage or other requirements can be managed easily in real time and on an infinitely scalable basis.
  • Cost – commodity or utility pricing lowers user costs. Capital expenditures can be eliminated, license fees reduced and access fees managed more efficiently.
  • Resources - shared resources enable lower per-user, per-unit pricing, and optimization of peak and non-peak loads across user communities. Resource upgrades and enhancements can be amortized across a broad user base, seamlessly and transparently to the user community. Inter-exchange agreements between cloud providers will enable continuity and recovery, load management, and resource backup capability at optimal prices.
  • Independence – time, space and resource constraints become largely irrelevant to the extent Internet or web access is available.
  • Interoperability – absent unique or customized requirements that can be managed separately by the user, standardized applications, development tools and protocols are simpler to maintain and operate, debug, update and support. 

While security and privacy is always a concern – more so where data, in addition to processing capability and storage, becomes more concentrated and accessible rather than distributed – more users and businesses will have the potential benefit of stronger security measures than are currently affordable or in use, to the extent cloud providers can develop and implement strong security standards and protocols within their service offerings. 

So who are the actual or prospective players? Well lots of prognosticators and labelers are out there, but here is my list in basic categories:

  • Providers are those who procure, create, host and manage cloud resources and then sell access, services, features and functions in a cloud environment – wholesale or retail
  • Users are those who need to use and take advantage of cloud services, features and functions, whether individually or as part of a business
  • Intermediators are those who create intermediation and aggregation opportunities between and among providers. On the one hand, intermediators can bridge gaps between providers and create interface and sharing environments between or among providers. On the other hand, intermediators may begin finding niches in customizing or aggregating services, features or functions for particular industries or in particular regions.
  • Developers and supporters are those who develop utilities, applications, tools, features and functions to enhance the cloud experience, make additional services and applications available, and who maintain and support the efficient functioning of the cloud environment.

There may be others – my list is not intended to be comprehensive or even definitive. I don’t have a crystal ball, so time and experience will determine what we cannot now predict. Four computers, interconnected to respond to the perceived vulnerability of centralized computing, were the origins of the Internet. Distributed computing represented commercial attempts to amortize costs, decentralize institutionalized information, and enable greater redundancy and recovery capability. Networking and web-based computing gave us the ability to communicate, share and store information across multiple processors and devices through share protocols. While it’s still too foggy to tell what the future will bring, cloud computing represents the next big innovative thing in making the power of the computer and the Internet easier to use, more available, more interoperable and more cost-effective.

When the fog starts to lift, we may see clouds on the horizon. Whether they are storm clouds or fluffy wondrous sights of joy, I leave to your imagination. Stay tuned. But no matter what your visions of the future may be, if you see a cloud and you aren’t sure what the legal implications might be, please feel free to contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.

That's Cloud Computing, Not Smog, Spreading From L.A.

Although reports of dissipating smog may be premature, if postings from Google are to be believed, Los Angeles is officially in the cloud. Google’s online email and collaboration cloud, that is! City employees will now use cloud computing for email and working on collaborative projects together. Google hails cloud computing for the city of Los Angeles as something that “will improve the security and reliability of city email, transitioning from servers in the City Hall basement to hosted, secure data centers.”

Los Angeles isn’t the only place to fall in love with clouds. VISI, the largest provider of data-center and managed-hosting services last month (December 2009), announced a public beta of ReliaCloud – a cloud computing service available to users anywhere. Set up an account online, set up computer servers in one of the VISI data centers, and employee-users can access the service from anywhere – anywhere there’s an Internet browser and connection. Cost? Reportedly, the pricing starts at 5 cents an hour! Welcome to fungible, commodity computing. According to VISI, its cloud service was designed to be reliable, affordable and scalable. The beta is targeted at small- to medium-sized commercial users, and businesses can apply at www.reliacloud.com. And VISI anticipates storage and other services to become available over time as part of a suite of offerings. Just one example among many of companies offering and embracing cloud computing.

The United States isn’t the only country where cloud computing environments are springing up. Back in September, the city of Dongying in China announced a strategic initiative with IBM, where the city is hoping to transform its industrial, petroleum-based environment into a service-driven economy. The cloud will be designed to allow start-up companies to do testing and software development through the web, but will also include electronic government services (e.g., e-services). IBM has also set up cloud computing in the Chinese city of Wuxi, and was recently picked to build another cloud computing platform - Quang Trung Software City – in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, the former capital of South Vietnam). For you trivia buffs, Quang Trung was an Emperor of Vietnam centuries ago. IBM is another emerging player, along with Microsoft’s Azure, Amazon.com’s EC2, and Google’s AppEngine, to name only a few of the more prominent participants in the growing move to cloud computing environments.

So, if your head is in the clouds or if all of this seems foggy to you, you should consider learning more – especially about the legal implications and issues. And you probably should start doing so BEFORE your IT, Finance, HR, Security, Audit, or Operations people (or maybe even the government regulators), come knocking on the door! Want or need help? Contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum, or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work. We’ll help get you out of the mist and back on Cloud Nine!

Wandering Lonely as a Cloud? Not One Cloud Computing Inventor in Texas!

In 1804, William Wordsworth published what is certainly among the most well known and oft-read poems in the English language – it begins, “I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills, when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils.”  Now even back in 1804, Wordsworth, no XML programming guru, was already talking about clouds, crowds and hosts . . . 

So we read recently that NetMass, a Texas company, reached a settlement and had a judgment issued in a federal patent case involving a lawsuit by an inventor, Mitchell Prust, alleging that NetMass infringed some cloud computing and cloud storage patents. Mr. Prust had apparently invented a mechanism to allow web browsers to access application programming – a fundamental aspect of cloud computing. The settlement and judgment entered by the Federal Court in Texas (Mitchell Prust v. Softlayer Technologies, Inc., et al., No. 2:09-cv-236) notes that NetMass had infringed three of Mr. Prust’s patents and enjoins NetMass from continuing to do so in the future. From current published reports, Mr. Prust also has a lawsuit pending in Federal Court in California against Apple.

This may be just the beginning of a wave of intellectual property lawsuits as cloud computing begins to evolve and become part of a commercial operational toolkit around the globe – not much different from those surrounding ATMs, online banking, networking and other once-emergent technology platforms. Stay tuned. You will be hearing more from us about clouds in the year ahead.

In the meantime, if your head is in the clouds (or perhaps just a fog), and you need help, feel free to contact me, Joseph I. (“Joe”) Rosenbaum or the Reed Smith attorney with whom you regularly work.