19 May 2006

Rumors about Applied Materials getting into the lithography business have been circulating for years. In fact, there are even rumors about the rumors, for example that one of them was started by a CEO who was trying to find a buyer for his lithography company.

So the announcement of a new joint venture with Dainippon Screen isn't especially surprising. I've always thought it was only a matter of time before the equipment behemoth started to move into the few sectors where it didn't already have a presence.

Posted 02:11 PM

I've been too busy to comment on the latest revelations from the NSA. Which is just as well, since Bruce Schneier said it better anyway.

Too many wrongly characterize the debate as "security versus privacy." The real choice is liberty versus control. Tyranny, whether it arises under threat of foreign physical attack or under constant domestic authoritative scrutiny, is still tyranny. Liberty requires security without intrusion, security plus privacy. Widespread police surveillance is the very definition of a police state. And that's why we should champion privacy even when we have nothing to hide.

Posted 01:58 PM

17 May 2006

While I'm thinking about it, a warm welcome to Tom Cheyney, at MICRO, who recently joined the blogosphere. And a tip of the hat to fellow industry watcher and blogger Mark Osborne, at Semiconductor Fabtech.

Posted 11:49 AM

You've probably noticed the link to my Furl archive at the top of this page. What you may not know is just how extensive the archive is. It's more than 3300 articles now, covering a wide range of semiconductor and business topics, including most of the published sources I use for my articles. I hope it's as helpful to you as it has been for me.

You might also want to take a look at my CiteULike page, which collects technical papers in fields that are relevant to what I'm working on.

Please note that both archives simply contain things that I've read online. No endorsement is implied.

Posted 11:25 AM

The Supreme Court got it right. The Court held that patent infringement does not necessarily justify a permanent injunction against the infringer. This is good news for developers of complex systems, such as software and computers, which may incorporate thousands of patented inventions. It's bad news for firms that collect patents for the sole purpose of collecting licensing fees, since it deprives them of one of their most potent weapons.

Don't get me wrong, I certainly believe inventors should be compensated for their hard work. The problem arises when several factors interact. First, the Patent Office issues patents that are overly broad, not actually all that innovative, or otherwise dubious. Second, the holders of those patents make no attempt to actually develop products, but rather deploy teams of lawyers to identify potential sources of licensing fees. Aided and abetted, third, by courts that automatically issue the death penalty of a permanent injunction whenever one of these dubious patents is infringed.

The Supreme Court ruling addresses the third problem, reminding lower courts that granting of a permanent injunction should not be automatic, especially when other remedies are available. Now can we have some action on Patent Office reform, please?

Posted 11:07 AM


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