Patent watch

Schick appears to have won the first round in its shaver patent battle with Gillette. A judge in Boston has cut off Gillette's attempt to get a preliminary injunction against Schick for introducing a four-blade razor.

Schick appears to have won the first round in its shaver patent battle with Gillette. A judge in Boston has cut off Gillette's attempt to get a preliminary injunction against Schick for introducing a four-blade razor.

Gillette has patented a three-blade razor and argued that any blade which contained three blades was infringing. The judge said that there was "no reasonable likelihood of literal infringement". Gillette plans to appeal, even as it introduces the M3Power, a shaver which uses three blades but massages the face with a vibrating handle to make your hairs stand on end. Ah, but would Queer Eye's grooming man Kyan approve?

Holding pinkies

Were they counting the number months they had left in the job? HP NZ head Russell Hewitt is crossing the ditch to be an exec at Vodafone Australia. (Former HP head Barry Hastings left to tend his olives before contracting for a while to Walker Wireless-now-Whoosh.) Hewitt, who came to HP from Compaq in the merger, assumed the role in May 2002. That's 20 months, if our maths is correct, not eight, as the press release suggested. And no, we don't know whether it was Hewitt or his underlings who was more keen to rewrite history.

Fast times

From the latest Mastec newsletter: "The way fasting works, is to give the energy systems of the body a rest from the energy patterns of the food you eat, digest and metabolise. The body is a big vibrating energy system, ask any knowledgeable XYZologist, like yourself. So by fasting, the bodies energies/vibrations has a rest from the same energy vibration inputs day in day out and can just rest, bliss out and stabilise into a new state."

Spy glass

Speaking of which, we quite like Wordspy.com, which name-checks new words in articles. For example: "Metrosexual (met.roh.SEK.shoo.ul) n. An urban male with a strong aesthetic sense who spends a great deal of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle." And, sure they're a bit try-hard and the Slashdotters will hate them, but we admire the chutzpah and humour of www.slashnot.com and www.cnnot.com.

Dirty Blue

Did IBM play dirty in its bid to beat the world's best chess player with a machine? Deep Blue famously beat Garry Kasparov in 1997 and now documentary maker Vikram Jayanti puts the question, in Game Over: Kasparov and the Machine, was there a man behind the machine? In an interview with The Guardian , Jayanti, whose work includes the Ali-Foreman bio-pic When We Were Kings, docos about James Ellroy, US ego-artist Julian Schnabel and an expose of the Golden Globes, suggests it was about business: IBM the corporation couldn't afford to lose. Uber-intimidator Kasparov says the computer psyched him out by suddenly starting to play like a human. IBM upped the conspiracy stakes by refusing a rematch and dismantling the machine.

Solitary refinement

An interview with the inventor of Solitaire for Windows -- who has not earned one cent from the millions who play the game -- on B3TA is well worth reading, especially as it took Wes Cherry 11 months to get back on the questions.

Are you bitter at not being paid for such a popular and essential utility?

Yeah, especially since you are all probably paid to play it!

Have you ever been caught playing Solitaire in the office and passed it off as software testing?

There was a "boss-key" which when pressed would display some random .C code. Microsoft made me remove that.

Are there any cheats? What are they?

Yup. When playing Draw Three, you can hold down Ctrl-Shift-Alt and click on the deck to get one card. That makes most games winnable.

The New Bowdlerising

Why IP lawyers should never be editors: www.adobe.com/misc/trade.html#photoshop and scroll down to "Proper use of the Photoshop trademark".

Talking tough

Last year, covering planned amendments to censorship law, we sounded a note of caution on the fact that they did not, as claimed, "target child porn" but make 10-year jail sentences available for communicating any objectionable material. We poked a little gentle fun at the fact that this would mean a possible 10-year sentence for sending someone instructions on growing marijuana, when the maximum sentence for actually growing it is only seven years. But this kind of law-and-ordering has darker implications. Justice Minister Phil Goff has, by way of the pending Films, Videos and Publications Classification Amendment Bill, proposed 10 years for trading in child pornography. The sentence for actual sexual assault on a child between 12 and 16 is, likewise, seven years. Belatedly, Goff introduced a Crimes Amdnment Bill increasing that sentence to 10 years. It was tabled a week after the porn measure.

Rowe row

Microsoft has apparently set its lawyers on to a 17-year-old Canadian software writer from Vancouver called Mike Rowe, because he has registered Mikerowesoft.com, which the company said infringes on its trademark rights. Traffic doubtlessly congratulating him on his bravado prevented us last week from checking out the domain, which Rowe reportedly registered in August 2003. Microsoft's lawyers quickly emailed to ask him to transfer over the domain name but only offered $US10, the cost of his original registration fee. Rowe said he would be willing to give it up for $US10,000, or $US1000, depending on which report you believe In response, he received a 25-page letter explaining why Microsoft's customers could get confused between his site and its.

Assuming it's his real name, and Canada being a Commonwealth country, we thought a defence citing Proprietors of Albert Hall v Albert Edward Hall should win the case for him nicely. Mr Hall, some time in the late 50s or early 60s, founded an "Albert Hall Orchestra". A British court found the proprietors of the Big Round Thing had no case. As a newspaper commented at the time, such fortunately named people "owe much to parental foresight at the font".

No word on whether Pete Senger from Oregon, who owns mikerowsoft.com, is getting similar mail.

Broatch is Computerworld's deputy editor. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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