On the Mark

Critics, misuse can damage ...

... your company's brands on the Internet. Businesses with strong corporate brands face a dilemma in trying to control their trademarks on the Wild Web, contends Malia Horine, general manager of digital brand management services at NameProtect Inc. in Madison, Wis.

Brands are frequently mocked in parody advertisements, and some Web sites vilify companies. (Go to Google and type in "*sucks.com." You'll get about 250,000 hits.) But even the people who do business with you can cause you harm, Horine says. Business partners and affiliates often unintentionally misuse trademarks in promotional efforts they're allegedly making on your behalf, she says. Although you may not want a full-fledged brand-monitoring service, you could tell your brand protectors about a one-time service, called the Brand Aware Report, that NameProtect is launching this week. Horine says that for US$1,000, you get a comprehensive, moment-in-time profile of your brands under fire -- everything from cases of alleged infringement to knee-slapping parody sites. You've got nothing to lose but your reputation.

... to make some noise. More and more applications are weaving in streaming media, including audio. "It's difficult to put out something visual that doesn't have to make noise," says Hart Shafer, a senior product manager at Adobe Systems Inc. in San Jose. He adds, though, that most multimedia apps are created by people who have visual flair but may lack expertise with audio. Hence the need for Soundbooth, software now in beta that will be offered as both a stand-alone tool and a module within the Adobe Production Studio suite. Shafer says Soundbooth will have Photoshop-like features for editing audio, including an array of sound filters and special effects. Developers will be able to customize soundtracks to match the length of video clips with just a few mouse clicks. And the software will come with dozens of royalty-free music samples. Shafer expects Soundbooth to ship in mid-2007; pricing has yet to be set.

... faster controllers. If you're working with multimedia programs or managing a near-line storage farm, performance and capacity are critical, says Ed Tierney, director of marketing at ATTO Technology Inc. in Amherst, N.Y. ATTO is developing a line of serial-attached SCSI host adapters that will enter field trials next month. Tierney says each ExpressSAS card will connect up to eight disk drives to a single server or PC. The cards will work with seven major operating systems and support multiple RAID levels. Tierney claims that ATTO's lab tests have measured throughput at a blazing 800MB/sec. Commercial versions of the cards should ship in February at a suggested retail price of $1,095.

... from top to bottom. According to Mark Friedman, CEO of Accruent Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif., most companies use their ERP systems with Excel spreadsheets and tons of paper to manage their real estate portfolios. That's fine for a building lease or two, Friedman says. But he claims that any organization with complex landholding obligations needs dedicated software like Accruent's, which also can keep tabs on property development projects. Accruent 6.2, set for release in December, adds support for third-party single-sign-on tools as well as improved analytics and special features for retailers with lots of locations. Friedman says an average installation runs about $1 million.