Monday, October 04, 2010

Tomfoolery



It's been a while since posting anything of interest but one has to work to survive and something had to give but now, most of the insanity is finally behind me so I can again concentrate on the ongoing insanity we call finance and how it relates to the notion of tomfoolery. To whit...



The flawed practices that GMAC Mortgage, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have recently begun investigating are so prevalent, lawyers and legal experts say, that additional lenders and loan servicers are likely to halt foreclosure proceedings and may have to reconsider past evictions.


Problems emerging in courts across the nation are varied but all involve documents that must be submitted before foreclosures can proceed legally. Homeowners, lawyers and analysts have been citing such problems for the last few years, but it appears to have reached such intensity recently that banks are beginning to re-examine whether all of the foreclosure papers were prepared properly.


In some cases, documents have been signed by employees who say they have not verified crucial information like amounts owed by borrowers. Other problems involve questionable legal notarization of documents, in which, for example, the notarizations predate the actual preparation of documents — suggesting that signatures were never actually reviewed by a notary.


Other problems occurred when notarizations took place so far from where the documents were signed that it was highly unlikely that the notaries witnessed the signings, as the law requires.


On still other important documents, a single official’s name is signed in such radically different ways that some appear to be forgeries. Additional problems have emerged when multiple banks have all argued that they have the right to foreclose on the same property, a result of a murky trail of documentation and ownership.

In looking at this sad and incompetent trail of greed perpetrated by the banks, one sees how dangerous and addictive tech can be with its unique ability to transform seemingly simple financial transactions of buying and selling houses (or doing foreclosures) into abstruse financial instruments (Credit Default Swaps, Derivatives etc., etc., etc.) able to be sold without the need for "real" verification as long as the housing boom went on and people could "trade up" to cover mortgage costs but when the market went south and foreclosures reared it's ugly head, verification became a very big deal, thus creating a fubar of historic proportions, a concept totally alien to the Darwinian world of tech where it either works or it dies and no one is too big to fail.

But tomfoolery also exists in the tech world as well with Oracle suing Google for clean room rewriting of Java and Paul Allen suing Apple and Google, along with significant others, for violating patents covering virtually all the ways people access the web even though Interval Research, the company Allen ran, went out of business over 10 years ago.

"A firm owned by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has filed a lawsuit against Google, Apple, Facebook, and other companies alleging that they have violated patents related to search, multimedia, screen pop-ups, and database management.


Interval Licensing filed the patent lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington. The companies named in the lawsuit are AOL, Apple, eBay, Facebook, Google, Netflix, Office Depot, OfficeMax, Staples, Yahoo, and YouTube.


Interval Licensing holds patents of Interval Research, the now-defunct company founded by Allen and David Liddle in 1992 to research information systems, communications and computer science. The patents in the lawsuit cover fundamental Web technologies first developed at Interval Research in the 1990s, Interval said in a press release.


The patents covered by the lawsuit are:


U.S. Patent No. 6,263,507, for "Browser for Use in Navigating a Body of Information, With Particular Application to Browsing Information Represented By Audiovisual Data."
U.S. Patent No. 6,034,652, for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
U.S. Patent No. 6,788,314, for "Attention Manager for Occupying the Peripheral Attention of a Person in the Vicinity of a Display Device."
U.S. Patent No. 6,757,682, for "Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest.

In looking at the merits of the case, from the perspective of a non lawyer, thank god, it would appear one could question what the role of an attention manager may be. Does an attention manager consist of a horn blast, a peep or a whisper or could it be a graphic, text or video image vying for one's attention and how does the attention manager work? Is it the entire browser or a subset or would it be a connect to an app working with the browser. In any event, it's surprising that the patents shown here appear not to be technically well defined even though Allen was a programmer by profession and should know better but one never knows, do one?

If by Godot I had meant God I would have said God, and not Godot. - Samuel Beckett


Oh, I forgot, Microsoft (and Apple) are suing Motorola (and Google) because of their success in the smart phone business, something MS assumed would not amount to much as they tried to maintain their hold on the desktop while the world went online.


In the end, litigators rarely win anything of merit. Go ask Ashton Tate to see why .
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