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$300 discount on IP Business Congress Boston for IPCU readers

The IP Business Congress Global, among intellectual property’s premier annual events, is providing a large segment of IP CloseUp readers a registration break for the upcoming event, June 16-18, at the Westin Waterfront in Boston.

This year’s IPBC Global program features over 70 speakers, more than 650 attendees and twelve hours of networking time.

Speakers include Erich Andersen, Microsoft; Paul Coletti, Johnson & Johnson; Jako Eleveld, Royal Philips; Juan C. Gonzalez, Mastercard; John Mulgrew, Uber Technologies; Michael Lee, Google; David Pridham, Dominion Harbor; Terry Rea, USPTO; Karen A. Sinclair, Harvard University; Wayne Sobon, Juul Labs; Maria Varsellona, Nokia; and Gilbert Wong, Facebook. HP and Ericsson also will be presenting.

Sessions include:

  • IP in the 5G era
  • Women in deal making
  • Insider the 21st Century IP team
  • Five years on from Alice
  • The investors’ perspective
  • Insider the global IP market
  • Blockchain in focus

By using the registration code, IPCU300, IPCU readers can save $300. The discount cannot be redeemed by IP service providers, as the service provider quota for IPBC Global has been reached.

For the entire speaker list, go here.

For the IPBC Global 2019 program, go here.

For an attendee break down, here.

To register, please visit go this this link.

 

Image source: ipbc.com; facebook: westinbostonwaterfront

China is source of 43% of world’s patent applications; 60% of trademark apps

China may not yet be on an equal footing with the leading industrialized nations in terms invention quality and brand recognition, but according to a recent study by the World Intellectual Property Organization, it is feverishly trying to show it is.

In 2017 China filed more than twice the number of U.S. patent applications globally; more than ten times the number of trademarks; and about 14 times the number of design patents.

China was responsible for 43.5% of all patent applications and about 60% of trademarks filed worldwide. It is responsible for 90% of the growth in trademark filings. It also filed about 70% of the industrial design patents.

This is according to a report published by WIPO, the UN-supported World Intellectual Property Organization, “World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018.”

IP rights have become something of a numbers game in China, encouraged by the government, which is eager to compete in technology and commerce and willing to offer attractive incentives.

IP quantity can only take businesses so far, and there are many weak or questionable patents and trademarks held by Chinese entities, including universities, that never should have been issued. However, it is clear that China no longer wants to be considered a “copycat” nation and is taking what it believes are the right steps to assure that. It means to catch up with global leaders and quickly.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations: “The Chinese government has launched ‘Made in China 2025,’ a state-led industrial policy that seeks to make China dominant in global high-tech manufacturing. The program aims to use government subsidies, mobilize state-owned enterprises, and pursue intellectual property acquisition to catch up with—and then surpass—Western technological prowess in advanced industries.”

Chinese companies and universities are likely to have at least some quality patents and marks and, unlike Japanese IP holders which were high active U.S. filers starting in the 1980s, are more likely to enforce them.

Asia Tops Global IP Activity

According to the WIPO report, China recorded the highest application volume for both patents and trademarks inside the country, as well as among other nations, and seeks to protect and promote their work in one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies.

Asia has strengthened its position as the region with the greatest activity in patent filings. Offices located in Asia was responsible for 65.1% of all applications filed worldwide in 2017 – a considerable increase from 49.7% in 2007 – primarily driven by growth in China.

While China claims more patents than any other nation, Bloomberg News says that “most are worthless.” The lapse rate is extremely high, with more than 50% of the five-year old utility patents abandoned and 91% of design patents.

“The high attrition rate,” says Bloomberg, “is a symptom of the way China has pushed universities, companies and backyard inventors to transform the country into a self-sufficient powerhouse.”

Subsidies and other incentives are geared toward making patent filings, rather than making sure those claims are useful. So the volume doesn’t translate into quality, with the country still dependent on others for innovative ideas, such as modern smartphones.

Still Learning

Bloomberg’s analysis may not be entirely fair. IBM, for example, consistently the top annual U.S. patent recipient, permits a huge number to lapse. Many of those that remain are quite valuable. Some patent strategists in tech believe that it is effective to patent broadly to prevent some inventions from becoming proprietary and then pare back as sectors and products evolve.

A handful of great patents can be more valuable than thousands of mediocre ones, as the pharmaceutical companies have proven. It takes a lot of work – and some luck – to identify them. China is still learning what IP is and how to use it. Japanese companies patented very aggressively in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s when they were being sued by American tech companies, sometimes with the threat of injunction. Many of the patents were said to be of questionable quality but they were able to generate more IP respect for Japanese companies and made them somewhat less vulnerable to U.S. enforcement.

China Foreign Filing Up 15%

China reported a 15% growth in filings abroad, which is far above that of Japan (+2.1%) and the U.S. (+2%). Both Germany (-0.6%) and the Republic of Korea (-4.1%) had fewer filings abroad in 2017 than in 2016.

 

Total patents in force worldwide grew by 5.7% to reach 13.7 million in 2017. Around 2.98 million patents were in force in the U.S., while China (2.09 million) and Japan (2.01 million) each had around 2 million.

No data was provided about the percentage of foreign patent applications in China.

The IP office of China had the highest volume of trademark filing activity with a class count of around 5.7 million, followed by the U.S. (613,921), Japan (560,269), the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO; 371,508) and the Islamic Republic of Iran (358,353).

The top 10 patent applicants worldwide, based on total number of patent families from 2013 to 2015 were Canon (Japan); Samsung Electronics (South Korea); State Grid Corporation of China; Mitsubishi Electric (Japan); International Business Machines (US); Toyota Jidosha Kabushiki Kaisha (Japan); Huawai Technologies (China); Toshiba (Japan); LG Electronics (South Korea); and Robert Bosch (Germany).

The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is the global forum for intellectual property policy, services, information and cooperation. A specialized agency of the United Nations, WIPO assists its 191 member states in developing a balanced international IP legal framework to meet society’s evolving needs.

For the full WIPO report, World Intellectual Property Indicators 2018, go here

For the summary, interactive charts and key facts and figures, go here.

 

Image source: wipo.int

Expanded ‘IP CloseUp 30’ stock index features four new categories

Publicly traded patent licensing companies have significantly under-performed market indexes. Only a few of the original listed stocks remain. 

The IP CloseUp 30, a feature of this blog first published in 2013, was designed to provide IP investors a real-time snapshot of public patent licensing company performance and news.

Loss of patent certainty and value have made licensing less interesting to current equity investors. For that reason, the IP CloseUp 30 is evolving. It will be known as the IP CloseUp 50, and include several new categories of publicly traded, IP-focused businesses, including those that engage in brand and content licensing and defensive strategies.

The IP CloseUp 30 index is build on a Yahoo! Finance screen of earnings and other financial information —  stock price and market capitalization, as well as real-time news developments. It gives IP investors a efficient way to track relative performance of selected companies. For those observers more dubious about the sector, but who are interested in keeping tabs on certain patent holders, it provides a method of tracking potential threats.

Evolving Universe

When I coined the acronym, PIPCO, six years ago, it referred to an expanding sector of public companies whose primary source of revenue was patent licensing and, by default, litigation. At the time patent values and damages were much higher and many respectable non-practicing entities (NPEs) held promise. Yet to be felt were the full impact of the America Invents Act, passed in 2012, and the effects of several major court decisions affecting injunctive relief and patent eligibility.

Leading Brands Category

The IP CloseUp 50 is an alternative method for investors to track the influence if not impact of intellectual property. It introduces a larger context for considering IP performance. Patent monetization remains a viable business model for some owners, but perhaps for most businesses, less so as a public one with the pressure to provide investors with quarterly results.

The IPCU 50 is far from definitive and will require that companies be added and removed as market and IP conditions warrant. PIPCOs were never intended to be just about patent licensing. When damages awards for mobile telephony (Motorola, Nortel, et al.) and other technologies commanded hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars, it was only natural for licensing companies to become a source or investor fascination. But even at their most active these PIPCOs rarely generated much daily volume or market capitalization.

Enter PIPCO 2.0

If investors have learned one thing over the past decade about public IP companies it is that they are not synonymous with patent licensing. It is true that performance measures like licensing, settlements and public awards are easier to follow than return on risk mitigation or brand equity. Licensing and litigation are simply more graphic, especially if big tech companies are paying out.

Think of the IPCU 50 as IP CloseUp 2.0. It represents the next iteration of IP investment perspective – companies better equipped to adapt and survive because of their nature of their IP assets and their size. It includes patent, trademark and content-focused operating businesses where licensing may play a role in performance. The index will still consider leading patent licensing companies, but scale back the number. (For now, the index will not consider trade secrets directly.)

To be sure, the IPCU 50 is a work in progress, destined to be refined, but, nonetheless, provocative and worthy of periodic scrutiny.

The new IP CloseUp 50 categories:

  • Patents – Technology
  • Patents – Pharmaceuticals
  • Trademarks – Leading Brands
  • Media & Content Owners (Copyright)
  • Primarily Patent Licensing

Fuller Grasp

Using IP rights to mitigate risk and maintain market share is not new. Nor is brand or content licensing. In principle, using IP rights defensively does not necessarily diminish their significance. It is true that specific tech patents typically mean more to small businesses and individuals than to established players who can rely on other resources like brand equity and their ability to raise capital, and are unlikely to enforce infringed patents. A fuller grasp of what different types of IP mean to various businesses can quickly turn a seller into a buyer (and vice versa).

With some 85% or more of S&P 500 company value tied up in intangibles assets such as IP rights, shareholders need to be better informed about the use of and return on IP (call it, ROIP) and their role in performance. Questions investors should be asking, even if senior management and equity analysts are reluctant to:

  • Which are the most IP-rich businesses?
  • What rights do they own?
  • How are they being used?
  • What is the relationship of their IP to performance and shareholder value?

 

Work in Progress

To be meaningful the IP CloseUp 50 must change to reflect IP value and investor need. The businesses were initially selected by an informal panel of experts. We will do our best to accommodate requests to add or delete companies. The index is designed to render performance of IP-rich companies somewhat more transparent and easier to follow.

The IP CloseUp 50 looks at top public IP holders primarily by:

 

  • Size, type and quality of IP portfolio and assets
  • Enterprise market value (typically >$500M)
  • Innovation reputation

For further explanation of the five sections and criteria for inclusion, visit the IP CloseUp 50 landing page, here. Consider bookmarking it or placing it on your home screen or desktop.

 

Image source: yahoo! finance; ipcloseup.com

Bridging the Gap Between IP Awareness and Understanding – A response to IBM’s Chief Patent Counsel

by Professor Ruth Soetendorp

In a recent article, Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel at IBM and President of the IPO Education Foundation, was right to point out that increased IP awareness does not necessarily reflect people’s genuine IP understanding or their IP literacy[1].  But what does that matter, and to whom?

The ‘general public’ is a complex mix of IP illiterati including people whose IP curiosity will probably never reach beyond a vague awareness of wrongdoing for enjoying illicit downloads or counterfeit designer brands.  For them, the education system is beginning to wake up to the importance of including IP references in school citizenship classes.  They may never be concerned about how IP fuels our innovation economy or facilitates creative thinking, but they need to be protected from the potential criminality to which their lack of IP knowledge could lead.

Different, but no less lacking in IP knowledge, is the segment of the public whose IP awareness, however vague, has resonated with them. They may be entrepreneurs who realize IP’s relevance to their commercial success.  They are the group to whom international and national IP institutions (USPTO, UKIPO, EUIPO, WIPO etc) are keen to make available the short catchy sound bites that may capture attention but fall short on vital information.  These resources will never compensate for a lack of a deeper IP understanding.  They can trigger an expectation that IP problems will have a right answer, that should be easy to reach.

The public doesn’t need more catchy phrases about what IP rights are. Instead, IP institutions should be braver about telling the public that IP is difficult.  They need to encourage a more critical approach by the general public to the IP they encounter, prompting them to think about the relevant questions that could be posed to colleagues, professional advisers or online resources capable of providing relevant information.

Prime Target

College students are a prime target for IP education that will encourage them to respect and question the legal regimes that will shape their careers and enable them to graduate as more enlightened members of society.  For them, patents will be important, alongside trademarks, copyrights and design rights.  For all, the rules relating to confidentiality and trade secrets have a crucial significance.  Faculties are encouraged to allocate time to convey IP education. There is clear evidence that it would be well received.  Research that supports this strategy was undertaken by the Intellectual Property Awareness Network[2] with the UK National Union of Students into student and academic attitudes to IP education[3] and IP policies in Higher Education institutes[4].

A recent approach I have used with participants from the UK’s Arts and Creative industries sector on the Boosting Resilience Arts Council England project[5], involves using an Intellectual Property Management Decision Tree. The Tree is a graphic representation designed to provide a framework to assist discussion by the general public of an IP issue.  Around the roots are listed the intellectual property concepts that may be relevant to the issue.  Using the Tree helps if an educator is familiar with the concepts.  But if they are unfamiliar the trunk holds addresses of online resources that will provide basic explanatory material.  Most important, the branches hold five key questions to be answered when faced with an IP problem.  When used by Boosting Resilience workshop participants (senior managers of UK Arts and Creative industries enterprises) feedback suggested the Tree had proved a useful device to stimulate small group discussion of IP problems.

No Easy Answers

Encouraging questions about IP matters challenges assumptions and establishes that there are no easy and few definitive answers.  This, in turn, builds confidence to seek out the best advice when faced with IP challenges – to draw upon the best resources.  The public may well never fully understand IP rights or how they achieve their intended purpose. That should not deter IP enthusiasts from their responsibility to help the public tackle the big IP questions that are intrinsic to their lives and future.

__________________________________________________________________

Ruth Soetendorp is a pioneer in promoting IP education for non-lawyers, across all disciplines. Professor Soetendorp has published research with EUIPO, UKIPO, IPAN and the National Union of Students, and has worked with WIPO, EPO and the EC to bring IP education to the international community. She is currently Professor Emerita and Associate Director of the Centre for Intellectual Property Policy & Management at Bournemouth University and a Visiting Academic at Cass Business School, City University of London.

[1] https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2019/02/03/closing-gap-intellectual-property-awareness-understanding/id=105866/

[2] wwww.ipaware.org

[3] https://www.nus.org.uk/PageFiles/12238/2012_NUS_IPO_IPAN_Student_Attitudes_to_Intellectectual_Property.pdf

[4] http://ipaware.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/IPAN_NUS_University_IP_Policy_16aug16.pdf

[5] https://www.boostingresilience.net/

Image source: epmagazine.com; boostingresilience.net

U.S. Trademark head, PTAB Chief Judge to speak about IP eligibility – $100 discount for IPCU readers

Intellectual property and IP law are in a constant state of flux. For those interested in keeping up with recent changes the 11th annual Corporate IP Counsel Forum is time well-spent.

Corporate speakers include Seagate Technology, MasterCard, American Express, Raytheon, NCR Corporation and SAS Institute. Law firms include Ropes & Gray, Fish & Richardson and Finnegan Henderson.

Mary Boney Denison, U.S. Trademark Commissioner and Mark Powell, Deputy Commissioner of International Patent Cooperation, USPTO, will address “Recent Innovations in Technology and the Resulting Effects on Eligibility.”

IPCCF is being held at the Westin New York Times Square, March 28-29.

This year’s highlights include:

  • Judiciary, in-house, and external counsel perspectives
  • Procedural changes at the PTAB
  • Venue and litigation strategy in the wake of TC Heartland
  • Legal implications of AI
  • Employee trade secret theft
  • Round table break-outs including, understanding blockchain, combating counterfeits & promoting diversity

IP CloseUp readers use code CLOSE to receive a $100 discount. 

For the conference agenda, go here.

For the full list of speakers, go here.

To register, please visit this link.

Image source: uspto.gov; inta.org

 

 

Convergence is creating new value; IPBC Europe in Paris to explore

The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) presents new challenges and opportunities for European companies.

4IR is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres collectively referred to as cyber-physical systems.

Traditional ways of creating value from intellectual property are becoming unsustainable and a more integrated approach to the management of assets is necessary. A good example is 5G, which is at the forefront of 4IR. (5G performance targets high data rate, reduced latency, energy saving, cost reduction, higher system capacity, and massive device connectivity.)

Golden Opportunity

The Intellectual Property Business Congress Europe, in Paris for 2019, will help IP executives to look beyond patents, trademarks and copyrights to ensure they are factoring trade secrets and proprietary data rights into their strategy.

Europe has a golden opportunity to lead the field in devising new IP strategies for the 4IR age, as well as defining the regulatory and policy environment. IPBC Europe will take place in Paris at the Les Salons Hoche, March 27-28.

Keynotes speakers are EPO Chief Economist Yann Meniere, Ericsson IPR and Licensing VP Mathias Hellman and 2018 Inventor of the Year, Stefano Sorrentino.

For the program, go here.

For the full list of speakers, go here.

IP CloseUp readers use code IPCU200 to receive a 200 Euro discount. 

To register, please visit this link.

Image source: avantex-paris.fr.messefrankfurt.com; events.ipbc.com

 

USTR warns of increasing attacks by China on US intellectual property, including cyber-attacks

A report released in late November the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) states that China appears to be stepping up its attacks on U.S. intellectual property.

“China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months.”

Raymond Zhong in The New York Times reported that “something is unfolding right now that carries higher stakes than any other tech story on the planet.”

Zhong was referring to China having detained the third Canadian citizen in apparent retaliation for the arrest of Meng Wangzhou, a top executive at Huawei, the world’s leading maker of telecom networking equipment. Since, CFO Wangzho’s arrest, Canadian officials have reported that a total of 13 people have been arrested in China. Eight have been released.

It has been long speculated that Huawei’s products can be used for spying by the Chinese government.

The USTR report, released on November 20th, is called UPDATE CONCERNING CHINA’S ACTS, POLICIES AND PRACTICES RELATED TO TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, AND INNOVATION.

“In the USTR report the U.S. accused China of continuing a state-backed campaign of cyber-attacks on American companies that were both intensifying and growing in sophistication,” Bloomberg News reported.

Chinese Claims

In response to questions about the report, a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday said U.S. officials should read a white paper published by the government in September that claims China ‘firmly protects’ intellectual property rights.

On August 18, 2017, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) initiated a Section 301 investigation of China’s acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation. 3

On the date of initiation, USTR requested consultations with the Government of China concerning the issues under investigation.4 Instead of accepting the request, China’s Ministry of Commerce expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the United States and decried the investigation as “irresponsible” and “not objective.”5

The primary four points of the report (IPCU’s boldface):

1. China uses foreign ownership restrictions, such as joint venture (JV) requirements and foreign equity limitations, and various administrative review and licensing processes, to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.

2. China’s regime of technology regulations forces U.S. companies seeking to license technologies to Chinese entities to do so on non-market based terms that favor Chinese recipients.

3. China directs and unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets by Chinese companies to obtain cutting-edge technologies and intellectual property and generate the transfer of technology to Chinese companies.

4. China conducts and supports unauthorized intrusions into, and theft from, the computer networks of U.S. companies to access their sensitive commercial information and trade secrets.7

“Further Unreasonable Actions”

The USTR report concluded: “China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months.

“USTR intends to continue its efforts to monitor any new developments and actions in this area.”

The full report can be found here.

Since 2014 Chinese venture capital investment in the U.S. totals $31 billion. The report cites analyst that estimate “Chinese investors participated in 10-16% of all venture deals in the United States between 2015 and 2017.”

Image source: USTR Update

 

Patent litigation is down 41% since 2015; IPRs are lowest since 2014

Patent disputes are significantly lower since they peaked at 5,874 in 2015.

Litigation tumbled 41% to 3,491 cases in 2018, and was down 14% from the prior year.

While litigation is never good, it is not always bad. Not everyone agrees that the drop in patent suits is a positive sign.

Some see it as an indication that the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) is doing its job, eliminating patents that should never have been issued.

Others who are patent owners told IP CloseUp that litigation has become “so costly and arduous, that it no longer pays for many infringed holders to bother.” They also point to the inconsistency of PTAB decisions and multiple opportunities for it and the courts to invalidate patents.

The litigation data was reported this week by Patexia. For the full update, go here.

Additionally, Inter Partes Review (IPR) petitions were down 7% from last year and are at the lowest level since 2014.

Delaware is now the preferred venue for litigation, with 697 cases. Eastern District of Texas, once the top dog for patent disputes, was down to 504 cases in 2018.

Image source: Patexia

 

IP CloseUp surpassed 200,000 views in 2018

In 2018, IP CloseUp broke though the 200,000 view level, generating a total of 207,868 on 373 posts since it was first published. 

Among the most popular posts for 2017:

By far the most read post on IPCU is Kearns’ son still fuming over wiper blade fight”. Since 2014 it has generated 77,844 visits.

In 2018 IP CloseUp was read in more than 100 countries. Since 2015 IPCU has generated 154,653 views.

IP CloseUp has been rated by Feedspot among the top-fifty IP blogs. It began publication as IP Insider in 2011.

To receive IP CloseUp weekly follow @IPCloseUp, connect to LinkedIn via publisher Bruce Berman or by subscribing at the right of this page under the Franklin Pierce tile.

 

Image source: ipcloseup.com

How Spotify can survive the size of Apple, Amazon, Google & YouTube

The streaming genie is out of the bottle. There is no going to back to CD sales or downloading as the primary model for music revenue. For industry leader Spotify, whose stock has dropped from a high of $196 in July to $120, more challenges lay ahead. 

Streaming may be acceptable to celebrity artists with CD sales and negotiating leverage, and who play concerts, but not for more mainstream musicians who have difficulty securing a record deal and receive pennies per stream.

With more than 87 million current subscribers and 191 million active users, Spotify appears to be well-positioned for success. Whether or not you believe that Spotify has gone from music industry slayer to savior depends on you ask and when you look.

The service survived the wrath of Taylor Swift and has settled a class action suit brought by musicians, including Cracker frontman David Lowery, publisher of The Trichordist, for $41 million. (More on how Swift is improving fellow artists streaming compensation in a future IP CloseUp.)

But if Spotify is going to bring the music industry forward it will need to show more than the ability to add subscribers. It must be able to work collaboratively with all recording artists, despite the adverse economics of the music business, and to become profitable in the not too distant future. 

Cash Out

Spotify (NYSE: SPOT) went public in March 2018 with a much-publicized offering that did not raise capital, but enabled some insiders, including investors like Sony Music and Warner Music Group, to take cash out and for the market to broadly value its model. The company’s offering price was $132 and had traded as high as $196.28 in July, but Spotify shares are down to about $120 (as of December 17), below its IPO price, an indication that its shares may not have been as accurately priced as initially believed, or that they can expect to struggle in a bear market.

To go public, Spotify executed an unusual move called a direct listing, forgoing investment-banking underwriters and opting not to raise any money for itself at this time. In the process, Spotify showed confidence in its future and saved tens of millions of dollars in fees while still giving its employees and early investors the chance to cash out at least some of their holdings without diluting the share price.

It’s not clear that streaming – and Spotify agreeing to pay higher royalties to some for their content – will save the music industry or earn the company a profit.

The Main Stream

Spotify was the first company to make streaming mainstream, a simple alternative to both the murky Torrent digital music piracy sites and the more expensive downloads model popularized by Apple’s iTunes.

The brainchild of Swedes Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon, Spotify launched as a desktop application in October 2008 and quickly gained millions of users across Europe before spreading to the US.

Spotify represents hope for the patent community, where serial infringers use others’ inventions with much the same impunity that streaming services employ content

“A good example of a tech B-lister is Spotify, which appears to be winning its battle with its biggest suppliers but lives in perpetual danger of being steamrolled by a tech giant,” reported The New York Times.

Perhaps the clearest indication of the Spotify’s awkward status came from Randall Stephenson, the chief executive of AT&T. “Mr. Stephenson has been fighting to acquire Time Warner since November 2016 in an attempt to cobble together some combination of content libraries, mobile networks and advertising tech that is big enough to survive a battle with the Googles and Amazons of the world.”

This is a defining moment for Spotify and big tech. If content it to survive meaningfully, IP rights need businesses, executives and shareholders to step up and look beyond quarterly earnings.

When a $200 billion business like AT&T is jockeying for leverage against Netflix, Google, Apple, and others, how is a university start-up, independent inventor or musician going to compete?
Not easily. 

Yet to be Determined

Despite its subscriber base and public offering, Spotify is far from a financial success. Some believe that to do so it must turn against artists and song writers. That will do little more than make its competitors, especially Apple, look good. Microsoft is among the few players who are big and smart enough to acquire the streaming giant at the right price.

Like AT&T, Spotify’s ability to compete depends on how it fares against much larger, more powerful companies, some with only a passing regard for IP rights.

Leading technology businesses set the tone for how licensing is conducted and how creators are treated, and so far – as far as copyrights and patents are concerned – it has not been a very harmonious one.

Image source: spotify.com; statista.com; economist.com

USPTO Director Iancu, top-ten inventor Jay Walker and IBM’s patent chief + surprises set for IP Awareness Summit this week

The IP Awareness Summit 2018 – IP literacy matters

The second annual Intellectual Property Awareness Summit is being held at Columbia University in New York this Thursday, November 29.

The Summit is being held by the Center for IP Understanding (CIPU), an independent non-profit. This year year’s theme is IP literacy in a digital world.

Featured speakers at IPAS 2018 include United States Undersecretary of Commerce and Patent and Trademark Office Director Andrei Iancu, whose recent remarks in favor of more certain patents and less rhetoric about patent licensing have been favorably received by IP owners.

Jay Walker one of the most prolific American inventors, curator of TEDMED and founder of Priceline.com will follow Director Iancu. Leading the group of featured speakers is Manny Schecter, IBM Chief Patent Counsel and a proponent of a clearer and more consistent definition of what is patentable.

Scholar and proponent of IP rights as property, Adam Mossoff, Executive Director of the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property (CPIP), will round out the line-up of featured speakers.

A representative from the International Trademark Association (INTA) will speak about the growing problem of counterfeits and ways of addressing it through public awareness.

A few registrations are still available, here. 

Other Speakers & Panelists

Speakers from the International Trademark Association, Bloomberg Law, the Kellogg School fo Business, the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property, the Global Innovation Policy Center (United States Chamber of Commerce), the rock band Cracker and other organizations from the US and Europe will be speaking and networking.

For the program, presenters and partners go here:

IPPro recently spoke with CIPU about IPAS 2018 and why today more than ever audiences need to understand the purpose and impact of IP rights. Excerpts follow (the entire article, “IPAS 2018: Why IP literacy matters,” is available, here).

What is the Intellectual Property Awareness Summit?

IPAS is an annual gathering of IP organizations, holders, educators and thought-leaders who believe that IP rights are frequently misunderstood and have come to be seen by many as unfair and unnecessary. IPAS 2018 is open to any interested party.

What is the goal of IPAS 2018?

At IPAS 2017 in Chicago, participants identified that there is a significant disconnect between how people see and use intellectual property. The problem is a result of confusion about why IP rights exist and who they benefit. A combination of inaccurate media coverage and vested interests are responsible for this false impression.

At IPAS 2018 we will “dig down” and start to identify whether or not there needs to be a set of basic standards for IP awareness for various audiences. What are the basics? How are they best communicated?The theme of IPAS 2018 is “IP literacy in a digital world.”

Information moves so much faster today. It is more accessible than anyone would have believed twenty years ago. Many businesses and individuals believe that basically “everything” accessible is available, and ideas are there for the taking.

Some U.S. lawmakers and courts have over-reacted to patent and other patent holders who wish to license their rights or enforce them, rendering many patents valueless. Some even believe that infringing IP causes no major harm and is a part of modern life.

A basic awareness of what IP rights are and do, and what is appropriate IP behavior, is something everyone needs – and it should come from a trusted source.

Why is IP awareness important?

The lines of IP ownership are sometimes poorly drawn and frequently misunderstood.

We need to start with IP professionals. They must recognize there is a problem outside of the IP community and even within it. There are intelligent people who believe that IP theft is not stealing.

Then, we need to identify the key audiences for better IP understanding: college students, educators, business schools, lawmakers, K-12 teachers, parents, investors, journalists.

What three or four basic IP principles do they need to know? Why? When should they be imparted? How?

It is no accident that the U.S. is the greatest nation when it comes to innovation, technology and authorship, including films and music. But that is changing.

The fast pace of communication and easy access to data do not let users off the hook when it comes to acknowledging IP rights. Respecting IP rights today may be more inconvenient for some than others, but it should not be more acceptable.

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For more information about IPAS 2018, including registration information, please visit www.ipawarenesssummit.com.

To learn more about the Center for IP Understanding, go www.understandingip.org.

Image source: CIPU; understandingip.org

U.S. cities are attracting a lower percentage of startup capital

Several surveys of global innovation have noted that the U.S. innovation edge is slipping, but until now they have not pinpointed where the U.S. share of global tech investment is going and possible reasons why.

A recent report detailing which cities today are attracting the most venture capital, Rise of the Global Startup City, states that the U.S., while still a lead player, is no longer the epicenter of all things new and  technological. Other cities are attracting a growing share of the venture pie, especially those in China.

“America’s long-held singular dominance of startup and venture capital activity is being challenged by the rapid ascent of cities in Asia, Europe, and elsewhere,” reports the study. “While the United States remains the clear global leader, the rest of the world is gaining ground at an accelerating rate.”

The reasons for the shift are complex: better access to data and computing power; local talent that cannot easily emigrate to the U.S. – or no longer wishes to  – and soaring real estate prices and salaries in established technology centers like Silicon Valley, New York and Boston.

Inhospitable Environment

Another reason not mentioned in the “Global Startup,” which was commissioned by the Center for American Entrepreneurship, is the inhospitable environment for U.S. IP rights, especially patents. The U.S. has fallen into an abyss where most IT patent rights are uncertain and virtually impossible to license, creating disincentives for both investors and tech companies.

At the same time, China has flaunted an increasingly plaintiff-friendly patent system that is more welcoming to innovators and foreign participation than a decade or two ago. Also, a decade or so ago, cities like London, Berlin and Delhi were barely a blip on the VC radar. Now they are serious players who want to grow.

For the full report, “The Rise of the Global Startup City, go here.

Source: Richard Florida/Ian Hathaway

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