More on DropBox’s Terms of Service – run away…

Interesting post from Dave Winer on Scripting News taking a look at DropBox’s possible business plan, which gives me more worries about using DropBox as the basis for an Electronic Lab Notebook.

That means they have to be looking inside your box to get the data they’re going to aggregate, to get to that astronomical valuation. That’s why they didn’t just go with the enterprise-y user agreements that Microsoft and Amazon use. They don’t want your money. They want the advertisers’ money.

What’s inside your Dropbox says a lot about you. And that, of course, is what Dropbox users (like me) are afraid of.

If that’s the case, you’d have to be very brave to use DropBox for Science that wasn’t already in the public domain… best stick with solutions focused on solving the ELN problem, which have the appropriate technical and business architecture! We’d love to talk to you 🙂

Traditional Scholarly Publishing on Bloggers

This editorial in Analytical Chemistry is a nice example of the reaction more formal publications have to the rise of “Bloggers” (found via Abhishek Tiwari’s blog which has a delicious subtitle of “In the spider-web of facts, many a truth is strangled”.

This is classic case of an established industry being threatened by The Internet. We’ve see it with Travel Agents, Book Stores, Insurance Brokers, Newspapers… you name it. The Editorial just effuses indignation that some people have the temerity to bypass the establishment.

Scientific Blogging is here to stay, as is blogging in general (sorry, newspapers). My advice to anyone who feels threatened by that is:

  1. Understand the rules have changed. What was scarce is now plentiful. What’s the new scarcity?
  2. The new paradigm has some advantages and some weaknesses – what are they?
  3. With the resources and expertise you have built up, how can you bring value to this new world (and hence remain relevant)?

What won’t work is sitting on the sidelines hoping the new thing will go away, because it won’t. It’ll just keep on getting more relevant and by the time you are forced to engage with it, they’ll have solved most of the problems without you… and you will be irrelevant.

Trade Secret Protection and ELNs

A good ELN can protect a company’s Intellectual Property in a variety of ways aside from the traditional role of creating and preserving evidence to be used in a Patent action.

I don’t know the details of the specific case but this recent legal case where an employee stole trade secrets before leaving for a competitor brings up another way.

Specifically, if they had been using PatentSafe:

  • Every read of a document would have been logged
  • The Custodian’s Console would have alerted management to unusual activity
  • Users would know they were accountable for the company’s secrets

The last of those is most important. If people know they are accountable this would never have happened at all – the scientist wouldn’t have been tempted, the company wouldn’t have had to prosecute, lots of money would have been saved and a prison sentence avoided.

Our PatentSafe Electronic Lab Notebook in a growing Biotech

4-Antibody have successfully rolled out our PatentSafe Electronic Lab Notebook, demonstrating the flexibility and power has in a growing Biotech.

I must admit some frustration with the process of Press Releasing new customers. Unlike most suppliers we tend to press release after a successful implementation (e.g. pilot, decision to go forward, roll out – and then we press release), and we also don’t press release everything. So it tends to be a while after we’ve got the project in and successful before we can talk about it, but it does mean when we do go public it is with something that’s solid.

We’ve just issued a press release on 4-Antibody’s use of PatentSafe (story on PRWeb here) and what’s interesting to me is that 4-Antibody, as a growing Biotech, needed to have a solution which allowed them as much flexibility and future-proofing as possible whilst giving them good IP protection.

Here’s the customer quote:

4-Antibody were looking to replace their paper based system but had some definite ideas about how any new electronic system would need to work for them. Marc van Dijk, Chief Technology Officer for 4-Antibody explained “It was very important for us that a new electronic lab notebook should not impose restrictions on us in the way that we work”. 4-Antibody evaluated several possible ELNs (Electronic Lab Notebooks) and chose to implement Amphora’s PatentSafe system, because according to van Dijk “Amphora seemed to offer the most flexible system which allowed us to do what we wanted to do in terms of workflow”.

But of course, you still need to stitch your systems together and keep things straight – always a challenge but particularly important in growing companies:

The system can also be simply integrated with other R&D applications, which was important to 4-Antibody because they plan in the future to implement these types of links. Van Dijk said that 4-Antibody aim to use PatentSafe as “one searchable database connecting all our R&D records, linking to our LIMS system” and he continued, “this will allow scientists and management to quickly see everything that is going on across R&D”.

This was one of the projects I was personally involved in, and it was a real pleasure to work with them – great bunch of people. They have a mix of Apple MacOS X machines as well as Windows PCs which meant the cross platform nature of PatentSafe really helped too.

This project was also my introduction to the Basel Fasnacht. We did think it was a little strange when we found the hotels were booked up, and you can imagine how we felt when we kept tripping over brass bands and people in scary costumes! Next time I’ll take the decent camera.