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Financial services IP is focus of July conference in NYC; IPCU readers receive a $200 discount

FinTech, blockchain, cybercrime – intellectual property for the financial services industry today requires a balance of emerging technologies and rights, including patents and trade secrets. 

On July 24-25 in New York World Congress is holding the 16th annual “Protecting Innovations in the Financial Services Industry.” It will be convened at the Intercontinental Barclay, between Park and Lexington Avenues.

Speakers include USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, Microsoft Chief IP Counsel, Erich Andersen (pictured) and IP executives from American Express, MasterCard and Wells Fargo.

Hon. Joy Flowers Conti, Chief Judge United States District Court, Western District of Pennsylvania, also will present.

Program highlights include:

  • Discuss implications of the USPTOs recently announced guidance for subject matter eligibility under Section 101
  • Assess the impact of the revised guidance on Federal Court cases
  • Determine patentability of AI and blockchain technologies: Gain strategies to overcome patent eligibility rejection
  • Explore innovations in FinTech and their impact on financial services IP
  • Hear updates on CBM and IPR proceedings
  • Foster a culture of innovation and strengthen the IP ecosystem

 

For the full program, go here.

For the list of speakers, here.

To register, go here. IP CloseUp readers receive a $200 discount by including conference code, CLOSEUP.

 

Image source: worldcongress.com

 

‘Copyright is for losers,’ says street artist, Banksy; some trademarks not

Ubiquitous yet unknown, UK street artist, Banksy, not a fan of copyright protection, has resorted to the trademark law to stop unauthorized sale of his work in Italy. 

Banksy’s company, Pest Control, sued an Italian company for “selling unauthorized merchandise in connection to an art exhibition. In a provisional ruling, a court in Milan has ordered the company to stop selling the merchandise at hand.”

Banksy’s satiric images are among the most recognizable in the world, and he is among the most infamous artists, yet his identify is unknown. He has said that “copyright is for losers.” The Italian matter was the first time he had enforced his trademarks, perhaps not because of the lost income, as much as to maintain control and prevent over-commercialization.

That his company, Pest Control, sued a museum gift shop may not be an accident. ‘Exit Through the Gift Shop,’ Banksy’s 2010 Oscar-nominated documentary about street artists and how they work, not only illuminated their challenges but elevated the importance of their work. Some believe that the non-fiction film is hoax, or at best a staging, designed to perpetuate Banksy’s mystique.

Questionable IP Strategy

“What is most interesting about this [trademark] matter, writes Vittoria Romano an Australian lawyer on Lexology, “that in concealing his identity, Banksy limits his ability to enforce Copyright.

“Further, his deliberate opposition to using his brand in market puts him at risk of failing to show use. It seems the Pest Control team need to work on an IP strategy moving forward in order to protect the commercial side of his art, even if that is considered to go against his anti-establishment messages.”

Watch Banksy’s $1.2 million ‘Balloon Girl’ Self-Destruct at Sotheby’s in London

 

Prankster or Profit?

“Banksy’s painting of a girl and a balloon, which began shredding itself moments after it sold at auction, for $1.4 million, in London on Friday night, remains to be seen,” wrote art critic Andrea K. Scott in The New Yorker.

“Sotheby’s hasn’t disclosed the buyer’s identity. (Such opacity is business as usual in the art market.) If this person was shelling out for love of the image alone, I would suggest picking up a replacement at Target, where a print version is currently on sale for $36.79, down from forty-six dollars. But, if the painting was purchased as an investment, the buyer might as well follow through.

“The picture’s destruction, like that of Tinguely’s machine, was halted before the job was complete, and there is already speculation that the work in damaged form will become even more valuable than it was before. If the stunt was intended to mock the spectacle of art being reduced to a price tag, the joke might be on Banksy.

“But since it was clearly also a bid for more notoriety—for an artist bent on maintaining anonymity, Banksy does not shy away from the limelight—a cynic might call this is his best art work yet. Since Sunday, the spectacle [see video above] has been viewed nearly nine million times, in a video that Banksy posted to Instagram.” [His page is worth viewing.]

Experts speculated that the price of the shredded ‘Balloon Girl’ increased some 50% or $700K immediately upon partial destruction.

Banksy encourages us to regard vacant spaces and familiar images in humorous ways, and not to take art or ourselves too seriously.

For The New Yorker piece, go here.

The Pest Control website is chuckle-worthy, especially “What is Pest Control?”

 

Images source: marinimacuna.com; thetimes.co.uk; theverge.com; wemp.app

Intellectual property is at the core of World Press Freedom Day

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. It is more important than ever to celebrate press freedom, to understand what it means and to assure it exists and is respected.

Press freedom is not something to be taken for granted — even in the most economically advanced democracies.

It is easy today to confuse perspective with fact, and credible journalism with promotion.

Intellectual property relies on a free and independent press to provide accurate, accountable reporting and information about IP rights and creators.

World Press Freedom Day was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in December 1993, following the recommendation of UNESCO’s General Conference. Since then, 3 May, the anniversary of the Declaration of Windhoek is celebrated worldwide as World Press Freedom Day.

WPFD is an opportunity to:

  • celebrate the fundamental principles of press freedom;
  • assess the state of press freedom throughout the world;
  • defend the media from attacks on their independence;
  • and pay tribute to journalists who have lost their lives in the line of duty.

2019 Theme: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation

Image source: unesco.org; pen.org

Trade Secrets: “What People Need to Know” — Sen. Coons, IP experts, scheduled to speak May 29

Trade secrets, or know-how, frequently in the news, are simultaneously among intellectual property’s most valuable and misunderstood rights.

A luncheon briefing designed to put these essential rights into clearer perspective will be held at United States Chamber of Commerce headquarters in Washington on May 29 – “Understanding the Secret to Trade Secrets: What People Need to Know Today.”

The briefing is being hosted by the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) in conjunction with the Global Innovation Policy Center (GIPC).

The event will clarify (1) what trade secrets are, (2) why they are more important now, (3) how they are used and (4) their impact on innovation, competition and trade.

Panel coverage includes:

  • Trade secrets’ role in promoting commerce and security
  • The hidden value of “negative” know-how
  • How trade secrets compliment patents and trademarks; their drawbacks
  • U.S., China and trade secrets today

In additional to Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), Vice-Chairman, Select Committee on Ethics and proponent of IP rights, speakers will include

  • F. Scott Kieff (U.S. International Trade Commission chief, 2013-2017)
  • James Pooley (Deputy Director General of the World Intellectual Property Organization, 2009-2014)
  • Brian Hinman (Aon IP Solutions; former Chief IP Executive, Philips and Verizon, and head of licensing at IBM)

“Trade secrets, or know-how, frequently comprise the most valuable part of a businesses’ IP portfolio,” says Marshall Phelps, former Vice President of IP Business and Strategy at Microsoft and IBM, and a member CIPU’s board of directors.

“Trade secrets can be as important as patents or trademarks. Despite the news coverage regarding IP and China, little known about how know-how works in practice.”

The Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (DTSA) brought trade secret misappropriation under federal jurisdiction.

For the briefing agenda, go here.

To request an invitation, write registration@understandingip.org. Registration is free, but space is limited.

Image source: CIPU; foodsafetynews.com; GIPC

“IP impacts everyone” – Two-minute video explains “why?”

What is intellectual property? Why should I care?

These questions are frequently considered – if not asked – by a range of people of all ages, incomes and education levels.

Products of the mind (inventions, creative works, etc.) and the rights that protect them can be complex. But the answer to “why IP?” is simpler than many people would think – jobs, competition, prosperity, as well as culture and quality of life. IP helped to make American and other nations great and will continue to, if we permit it.

The Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) recently produced a white board video that explains in a few words and images why and to whom IP is relevant. The video (below) is suitable for a wide range of audiences.

“Intellectual property is the foundation for the future,” said Bruce Berman, founder and chairman of CIPU, an independent non-profit focused on increasing awareness of IP rights and their impact on people’s’ lives. “IP rights are a bridge that enables freedom, as opposed to a legal requirement that inhibits it. Lack of understanding make it difficult for people to see it that way. Early awareness and education help. It is never too late, or early, for anyone to learn why IP maters.”

There are many animations available that explain IP’s importance to children, but employees, investors, teens, law enforcement professionals, parents and educators, too, need help understanding IP’s role and history.

 


IP is for Everyone

There are many animations available that explain IP’s importance to children, but employees, investors, teens, law enforcement professionals, parents and educators, too, need help understanding IP’s role and history. “What is intellectual property? Why should I care?” endeavors to help.

To learn more about IP or identify materials and activities right for different audiences, please contact CIPU at administration@understandingip.org

For a link to the the IP CloseUp YouTube Channel that can be shared, go here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZk165UL2V8fNiJjVcQtnmQ

 

 

Image source: understandingip.org; the Center for IP Understanding 

INTA Annual Mtg set for mid-May; $300/€300 discounts for ‘Auto IP US’ and Europe, also in May

May is a busy month for IP events. The 141st International Trademark Association Meeting (INTA) will take place in Boston, and Auto IP conferences will be held in Munich and Detroit.

More than 10,000 trademark practitioners, brand owners, and intellectual property professionals from 150 countries will be in Boston, Massachusetts May 18–22 for the  141st Annual Meeting of the International Trademark Association, the largest  industry gathering of its type.

With 300+ educational sessions, the meeting will explore topics that reflect advances in innovation and technology, changing consumer perceptions about brands, and the rising tide of counterfeits. In addition, the program goes beyond trademarks to cover other IP rights.

For information about the INTA meeting, including the agenda and registration page, go here.

Auto IP USA and Europe

Building on three years of success in Detroit, IAM’s Auto IP USA on May 8 will bring together the leading IP experts from across the automotive landscape. Through thought leadership, discussion and networking, attendees will gain insight into the IP challenges facing those driving change in the new era of mobility.

Alliances have become a template for the auto industry, encouraging innovation and collaboration in a way that differs from full mergers and limited cooperation deals. However, these partnerships create complex IP issues around the assets that the parties already own as opposed to what new products they may create together.

Returning to Munich on May 16 for its second year, Auto IP Europe will offer IP professionals in the automotive industry the opportunity to hear expert strategies from the complete supply chain – from the OEMs and industry suppliers, to the innovators in high-tech and connectivity.

Auto IP USA background can be found here. IP CloseUp readers who use discount code IPCU300 receive $300 off the registration fee (more than a 30% discount).

Auto IP Europe agenda and speakers are here. IP CloseUp readers who use discount code IPCU300 receive €300 off the registration fee.

Image source: inta.org; iam-events.com; gistmania.com

 

Taking PIPCOs private – rethinking public IP (patent licensing) companies

The shares of most publicly traded companies that rely primarily on patent licensing, litigation settlements or damages awards for revenue have fared poorly compared to key market indexes, like the S&P 500. 

Whether or the not the market is valuing these companies’ shares and their complex assets fairly is less the issue than the viability of patent licensing as a public company business model. Remember, PIPCOs are not synonymous with patent licensing — a PIPCO (public intellectual property company), a term this reporter coined in 2013, can be brand-based, content-focused or not even license its IP rights.

PIPCOs are nothing more than IP-centric companies that trade publicly and that investors need to appreciate for their intangible assets.

PIPCOs, as we know them, are in need of a reboot – call it PICPO 2.0.  In the March-April IAM magazine the Intangible Investor looks at “IP Investing Today – What you need to know.”

IP CloseUp recently updated and expanded the IP CloseUp 30 to the IP CloseUp 50, a more diverse range of IP-centric companies. The best-of-the-best performing patent licensing companies, typically non-practicing entities, are still included, but so are brands like Nike and content providers like News Corporation and tech stalwarts like Apple.

Check out the IP CloseUp 50 here. Bookmark it if you want a real-time snap-shot of these IP players on your phone or computer.

Changing Perspective

When inventors and NPEs were grabbing headlines with damages awards – some in the hundreds of millions of dollars – it was easy for some investors to believe patent infringement would translate into PIPCO performance. It was not so easy.

Settle a dispute or close a deal and the impact could be readily discerned on small company’s balance sheet and in its share price. If a company’s market capitalization was under $100M dollars the results would be magnified. Twists and turns in the course of litigation were trading opportunities, so thought many investors.

Larger PIPCOs Have Fared Better (see 2014 Graph Below)

For large IP-rich businesses – those with patent portfolios like pharmaceutical and tech companies, brands and content providers – it is more difficult to measure the impact of their IP rights and specific IP-related transactions on performance and shareholder value. Their complexity made them less interesting to short-term IP investors until the results were observed over time.

RPX Turnaround

Dan McCurdy, RPX’s current president, told IAM recently about the benefits that de-listing the company’s shares had brought.

“We have done more transactions than in any other six months in the company’s history,” McCurdy said. “We have syndicated more dollars than in any other six-month period; and we have concluded approximately 40 transactions across all eight of our market sectors.” The momentum said the former ThinkFire CEO and AST Chairman, was the result of the increased focus and flexibility that being a private company had allowed.

“There is a level of creativity that has been unleashed thanks to our new status,” he concluded.

Some six years ago, in the patent licensing company heyday, RPX’s share price was over $40, after going public in 2011 at $19 per share, and its market cap was around $1 billion.

Time and Money

Finjan is among the more successful PIPCOs, with products in the cybersecurity. The Silicon Valley company’s President Phil Hartstein said at a conference that it was considering going private.

He explained that “despite our repeated success at the PTAB, several valuable settlements and licenses over the past five years, and the growth of our operating business, our stock price has remained essentially unchanged in what had been a bull market for technology.”

With approximately half of Hartstein’s time consumed with shareholders and public ownership, he says, it may be time to reassess priorities.

Companies like Marathon, CopyTele/ITUS, Inventergy, Sepheris, DSS, Single Touch, CopyTele (ITUS), MGT Capital and Prism Technologies Group have either engaged in reverse-splits, merged or been de-listed. Several, like Tessera (Xperi) and Quarterhill (WiLAN) have changed their name and are hanging tough.

Some of the larger players, such as InterDigital and Universal Display Corporation have performed reasonably well in what until recently had been a bull market. It remains to be seen how they will perform in a less kindly environment, but their size and success can help them surmount obstacles the smaller players cannot.

Image source: gilmartinir.com; lake street capital

$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

 

 

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