The Visible Policy
Open Letter to Intellectual Property Attorneys

Table of Contents
  Pictures of Content

To non-lawyers:

If you are reading this, obviously New York Life has not shut me down, and it is likely that they have no wish to do so.  Should NYL choose to let me know that the existence of this site is "ok" with them, I will post such notice here.  It is published on the web without their specific prior knowledge, approval, authorization, or verification.

Even if NYL should like this site, they cannot ever actually endorse it.  This would open them to a lawsuit from some jerk -- "The Visible Policy said such and such, and it didn't happen!  Give me $2,000,000".

As you read below, it will be obvious that I have strong feelings about the rape of our Constitution by intellectual property attorneys, who would restrict the right of free speech into domains of corporate ownership.  I'm not too excited, either, by the judges, juries, and legislators who have completely thrown away common sense.

Patents are good.  Copyrights are good.  Trademarks are good.  Just make sure something real, unique, and not already public, is protected.  Patenting the mathemetical 'xor' operation applied to graphics is absurd, yet it was allowed.  Trademarking a "look and feel" is so tenuous of a concept, the judge should have immediately dismissed the first such attempt.  Restricting publication of easily deriveable algorithms and methodologies as if they were some sort of "trade secret" is a direct violation of free speech in favor of corporate greed.

When special priveleges are granted, make sure that the legal grant protects the originator of the idea, not 2nd-rate charlatans who happen to market it first.  "Prior art" should be (but for some reason is not) considered an absolute defense.

-- on to the show --
Mr. or Ms. Intellectual Property Attorney,

I hope New York Life is not wasting money paying for your "services".  Since NYL management has shown alarming signs of thinking like normal American Corporate types, it is possible their other lawyers convinced them how necessary you have become in "today's world".

If you exist, and the The Visible Policy has come to your attention, here are some items you should consider.  (If you don't exist, please ignore this message.  It does give me a splendid opportunity, though, to rant, rave, and grandstand.)


  1. The Visible Policy is based on a life insurance policy owned by me.  It is not a licensed product; I have full ownership.  The contract between NYL and myself does not restrict me from telling my friends about anything in the policy.
  2. I may be mistaken about certain facts.  This is admitted up front.  But none of the assumptions are designed to reflect badly upon NYL.  In fact, I believe the site reflects my NYL policy in a fair and favorable light.
  3. Within 4 years, NYL and the other insurance companies will be making detailed policy information easily available from their sites.  In one respect, The Visible Policy exists to force this very event.
  4. In a psychotic way of thinking, there may be losses of either "intellectual property" and\or "trade secrets" suffered by NYL resulting from this site.  In actual fact, any "loss" will be more than offset by the favorable publicity NYL gains directly, and, indirectly, by a better public understanding of what a Whole Life policy is.  It is a good product, but misunderstood by many modern financial advisors and other "experts".  NYL has a product in which to be proud, not ashamed.  Attempts to restrict policy details would certainly make it appear that NYL has no confidence in the fundamental integrity of its products.
  5. Significant details about my policy are already on public record with the Florida Insurance Commissioner.
  6. The policy illustrations used to help me build the models do not contain restrictive clauses relating to publication of that data.  Furthermore, four of those illustrations were provided by an authorized agent of NYL for the very purpose of doing a public analysis.
  7. Other details discussed herein relate to my personal privacy.  I expressly and freely give up certain privacy rights relating to my financial status and the policy.  Specifically, my annual premium, payment schedule, death benefit, age, sex, and status as a non-smoker are hereby made public.  (My status as a nerd will have to be derived separately.)  No financial or personal data relating to other owners of NYL policies are revealed.
  8. I am following stated NYL restrictions.  For example, the legal notice at the NYL site forbids me from downloading an image from their site, even to adapt and use on my site as a friendly link to them.  Thus no nice official logos are here.  (If you are the paranoid personage who wrote that restriction, you might want to reconsider.  Other sites offer a page of official logos, hoping people will use them as links.)
  9. I am a part owner of NYL, and full owner of the my AD95 policy.  I hereby use this relationship to give permission for the release of policy details and any discovered algorithms and methodologies contained within The Visible Policy.  AD95 is no longer a marketed product anyway.
  10. Seriously, the actuaries working for competing companies already know what you are doing.  They are bound by the same statistical laws and actuarial data as NYL.  The only information you can really try to hide is internal fees, rates of return, dividend policy, and commissions.  Customers and potential customers should have access to this information anyway.  Indeed, the owners of NYL, its policyholders, have an absolute right to such information regarding their policies.  We are adults.  We know that the employees and agents of NYL are feeding their families.  We know, and thinking customers actually desire, that you build up high reserves in the event of sustained economic hard times.  Don't make it appear as if NYL is ashamed of these things.
  11. If you try to sue me or otherwise restrict this information, the actuaries are going to hate you.  They will whisper about you behind your back and may even spit in your soup.
  12. I am fully open to making corrections of fact.  Have an actuary talk to me, not a lawyer.  (If she is an actuary and a lawyer, well, ok.  ... I'll bring sandwiches.)

  -- Rich Franzen, stepping off the soapbox


While the below email is not a formal "your site is ok with us" from the New York Life Insurance Company (NYLIC), it comes quite close.  Still, I'm keeping this page for historical purposes.  The above was written in May 2001, and I had actual concerns that NYLIC might frown upon this site, as well as its sister, the Life Insurance GlossPinion.
Date: 7/30/2004 10:05:56 -0400
From: "David A. Harland/NYLIC" <xxx@newyorklife.com>
To: "Rich Franzen" <rich@r0k.us>
Subject: Re: our mutuality correspondence now posted to the Visible Policy

Dear Mr. Frazen:

Thank you for your note. Once again we appreciate your kind words about the Company's decision to remain a mutual and for including our response to your letter on your website.

David Harland

212-###-####
212-###-#### (fax)
xxx@nyl.com

    From:    "Rich Franzen" <rich@r0k.us>
    To:      xxx@newyorklife.com
    Date:    07/28/2004 08:41 PM
    Subject: our mutuality correspondence now posted to the Visible Policy

David,

Hi. In September/October of 2002, I wrote NYLIC and you kindly replied. My letter stated that this correspondence would become part of the Visible Policy. Finally, it is. Here is the URL for the new page:

* http://www.r0k.us/insurance/vp/vl_stillMutual.html

It is possible there are errors; I retyped the letters by hand. Let me know if you see something I need to correct.

-- Rich
--- http://r0k.us/rock/


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Accesses since 31 May 2001
last modified 22 November 2010
2001 - 2010 by Rich Franzen

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