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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thinkers & Doers: May 22, 2014

Provost & Academic Dean Elizabeth L. Hillman, Professors Hadar Aviram, Robin Feldman, Ben Depoorter, Joan C. Williams, David Levine, Sheila Purcell, Research Fellow Brian Pascal, Adam King '89, Marc Gottschalk '91.
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There's controversy over a proposal before the California Supreme Court to require judges to sever ties with the Boy Scouts. "We have strong antidiscrimination laws in California, and judges are sworn to uphold them." --Professor David Levine

Hadar Aviram

Professor Hadar Aviram (@aviramh) was named to NerdScholar's inaugural “40 Under 40,” which celebrates professors who are cultivating passion in Hadar Aviramtheir students. Chosen based on nominations highlighting their love of teaching, these women and men are inspiring the young adults of today to be the world leaders and humanitarians of tomorrow.

Hadar told NerdScholar her "favorite nerd" is Jonas Salk, "for his discovery of the polio vaccine, then declining to profit from it."

Read more about the honor, and see Aviram's profile, here.

Robin Feldman

Professor Robin Feldman’s (@RobinCFeldman) research was cited in a Wall Street Journal story about new state legislation designed to curb “patent trolls.”

Robin FeldmanThe Journal wrote:  “According to a study by Robin Feldman, a law professor at the University of California's Hastings College of the Law, who surveyed 200 venture-capital firms, 70% of venture capitalists have portfolio companies that have received patent demand letters. The ‘vast majority’ of claims came from companies ‘that license or litigate patents as their core activity,’ according to the study, which found that existing patent claims could be ‘a major deterrent’ to investing in a startup and cost, on average, $100,000 to combat. The results of the study are expected to be released this year.” Read more here.

Ben Depoorter

The U.S. Supreme Court seems on the verge of scaling back patent protection for computer software. Congress and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office have already started down that road.

Ben DepoorterBut the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has issued a forceful statement backing copyright protection for software with its May 9 ruling in Oracle v. Google. Bay Area copyright scholars don't think the timing is just coincidence.

 "My personal feeling is this case is influenced a little by the software patent backlash," Professor Ben Depoorter told The Recorder. With software patents under attack, the Federal Circuit seemed "more resolute" about keeping software in the copyright domain, he said. Read the full story here.

Elizabeth L. Hillman

Provost & Academic Dean Elizabeth L. Hillman was among the experts queried by Evolution Finance to determine the best and worst states for Elizabeth L. Hillmanmilitary retirees. 

"Veterans need to be appreciated not just by the federal government, but by their employers, communities, and families," Hillman said. "Retirement often comes early in the productive lives of veterans, who have the potential to return to civilian life with hard-won experience and insight. We need to appreciate what veterans can do after they retire from active service as well as the sacrifices they, and their families made, in the military."

Joan C. Williams

Although most employers know that pregnancy and gender discrimination are illegal, sex stereotyping and family responsibilities discrimination are still potential areas of risk.

Joan C. WilliamsOne of the most common family responsibilities discrimination problems in the workplace is when male employees are sent strong messages that they are not expected to take more than a few days or weeks of paternity leave, when they are entitled to up to three months under the Family and Medical Leave Act, Joan C. Williams, (@JoanCWilliams) Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the Center for WorkLife Law told Bloomberg BNA.

Moreover, Williams said that it is common for women who are returning from maternity leave to not receive assignments immediately, or to not be included in big projects. Often, this amounts to “benevolent sexism.”

Williams said that employers must be clear with employees that they need to leave opinions about family life at home.

She recommended that employers train managers to refer anyone who needs FMLA leave to human resources. Not all supervisors will know the ins and outs of FMLA leave, she said. Consistency is the best approach regarding family leave, she added. Read more here.

Williams was also one of five experts asked for their ideas on which cultural and policy changes could ease American’s time crunch.

“Make work schedules flexible—and don’t ding workers for taking advantage of that,” Williams told Zocalo Public Square.

“Simply put, today’s workplace is not designed around today’s worker. Instead, it clings to the 1960s notion of an “ideal worker”—someone who is available to work whenever needed while someone else holds down the fort at home, and who takes little or no time off for childbearing or childrearing. Structuring work in this fashion marginalizes caregivers, men and women alike.” Read more here.

David Levine

Professor David Levine offered analysis on a proposal before the California Supreme Court to require judges to sever ties with the Boy Scouts, because of the Scouts' rejection of gays and lesbians as troop leaders. The measure has the support of the state's main judicial organization, but David Levinethere's evidently some opposition in the ranks and charges of “political correctness.”

California's judges haven't been polled on the issue, and Levine told Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle that the posted comments probably don't reflect the prevailing views on the bench.

"When you're against something, you're more motivated to write," Levine said. Although the Boy Scouts have the right to exclude gays, he said, "we have strong antidiscrimination laws in California, and judges are sworn to uphold them." Read more here.

Sheila Purcell

Sheila Purcell, Director and Clinical Professor, Center for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, will moderate a panel June 11 for the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center, "ADRx: Innovations in Reducing and Resolving Conflict in Our Communities."

Sheila PurcellFor 16 years Purcell designed and directed a dispute resolution partnership for the San Mateo Superior Court. She developed ADR programs with the civil, small claims, family, probate, complex litigation and juvenile courts bringing together legal and local communities. For her innovative approaches, she received a California Dispute Resolution Council Founder's Award and special recognition from California's Supreme Court Chief Justice. Click here for more information on the program.

Brian Pascal

Facebook announced Thursday that it will make it easier for users to share less, changing the default sharing setting for new users to friends only, instead of public, and make it easier for its 1.28 billion existing users to monitor and change their privacy settings.

Brian Pascal, (@bhpascal) Research Fellow with the Privacy and Technology Project, told the Los Angeles Times the shifts at Facebook are at least partly a reaction to the recent revelations about NSA snooping.

Brian Pascal"This is less indicative of a spontaneous shift inside of Facebook and more of Facebook responding to a large shift in public opinion on privacy," Pascal told the Times. "We all care about privacy a lot more these days."

To maintain its popularity, he said, Facebook needs its users to trust the company to protect their data. "If they don't, Facebook can't sell ads."

Among the changes Facebook rolled out are clearer designations on posts about with whom the information is being shared. Read more here.

Adam King

Adam King ’89 has published his first book, “Idaho Condominiums & Townhomes.”

Marc Gottschalk

The Cleantech Open has announced that it will expand into six countries: Armenia, India, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Turkey. It intends to support innovation in energy efficiency, renewable energy, waste to energy, and water efficiency in those six nations. The Global Environment Facility (GEF),  and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) are partnering with them on the accelerators.

Marc GottschalkCleantech Open is the largest clean tech accelerator in the world. Hundreds of startups have participated in the Cleantech Open, raising about $900 million in the process.

Marc Gottschalk ’91 is one of Cleantech Open’s co-founders. He has been the chief business development officer and general counsel for Proterra Inc.  Rebecca Hwang is another co-founder. She also started YouNoodle.com and is an advisor at Stanford University. Read more here.

Read more Thinkers & Doers here. Know someone who should be in Thinkers & Doers? Send us your story tips here.

--May 22, 2014

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