Tag Archives: Canada

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

 

$88.3M (CD) for Canadian IP literacy and tools via new strategy

The Canadian government has announced that it is investing $88.3M CD in a new IP strategy that incorporates tools and education, and improves literacy. Canada’s population is approximately one-tenth of that of the U.S.’

The government wants to help business, creators, entrepreneurs, and investors better understand, protect and access intellectual property (IP) through a comprehensive IP Strategy. The full story can be read on IP Watchdog.

Legislation, Literacy, Advice

The IP Strategy will make changes in three key areas: Legislation, Literacy, and Advice, according to a statement and Canada’s IP Strategy website.

The Canadian government announcement said that intellectual property is a key component of an innovation economy. It helps Canadian innovators reach commercial success, further discovery and create middle-class jobs by protecting their ideas and ensuring they reap the full rewards of their inventions and creations.

Canada’s IP Strategy will help Canadian entrepreneurs better understand and protect intellectual property and also provide better access to shared intellectual property. Canada is a leader in research, science, creation, and invention, but has lagged in commercializing innovations.

The new IP strategy received praise from a range of industries, from aerospace to biotech to entertainment.

A suite of seminars, training and information resources on the subject of intellectual property (IP) is tailored for businesses and innovators. As part of the “Literacy and Advice” section of IP Strategy, the Canadian IP Office (CIPO) will:

  • Launch a suite of programs to help improve IP literacy among Canadians.
  • Support domestic and international engagement between Indigenous people and decision makers as well as for research activities and capacity building.
  • Provide tools to support Canadian businesses as they learn about IP and pursue their own IP strategies.

Copyright Awareness

Earlier this year, the UK IP Office (UK IPO) introduced a copyright awareness program with a series of educational animations for students seven to eleven-years-old.  “Nancy and the Meerkats,” under the Cracking Ideas initiative, met with nasty opposition from media like Techdirt and Torrent Freak. They believe that helping children to understand IP right from wrong is a little more than brainwashing. These publications often have an IP axe to grind and believe that content and code should be broadly shared, and that piracy is not necessarily theft.

UK Teaches 7-Year-Olds that Piracy is Stealing” was the title of the Torrent Freak article, implying that it is not. Piracy is not OK, even if some coders, content providers, and patent infringers believe it is. A BBC story attempted to sort things out, but the negative publicity appeared to put the educators on the defensive when it is the infringers who should be. Teaching children IP right from wrong is part of good parenting.

Image source: ic.gc.ca

O Canada, Ontario Rocks When it Comes to Patent Holders, Advisors

Ottawa, Toronto and Waterloo together comprise a leading center for valuable patents and IP expertise.

To most people Ontario conjures an image of ice hockey and maple leaves, not intangible assets. But the province bordering the U.S. on the north is among the most abundant areas globally for invention rights, strategists and investors.

Among the notable patent businesses in Ontario are UBM Tech Insights outside of Ottawa, an information services and consulting firm for technology companies that wish to leverage their IP assets. Chipworks, also in the Ottawa area, specializes in reverse engineering products like computer chips to identify infringement and difficult to identify prior art.

Canadian BoyAnother Ottawa company, MOSAID Technologies Inc.,  is a leading intellectual property management company. MOSAID, with 5,400 patents, monetizes IP in the areas of semiconductors and communications, and develops semiconductor memory technology. MOSAID was taken private in 2011 for $590 million by Sterling Partners, a U.S. private equity firm. Like UBM, and Chipworks, MOSAID has offices worldwide.

WiLAN (NASD: WILN) is an Ottawa-based, publicly traded IP licensing business. In 2011, it failed in an attempt at a hostile bid to acquire MOSAID. Both MOSAID and WiLAN (3,000 plus patents) are built on a tradition of R&D, and sell or have sold products, file patent applications, and acquire them from others.

Waterloo-based Research in Motion which makes the Blackberry, once the leading smart phone in the world.  Research in Motion (NASD: RIMM), has an extraordinary portfolio of some 3,600 patents said to be worth over a billion dollars.

Nortel, based in outside of Toronto in the western part of the province, in Mississauga, Ontario, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2009.  In 2011 it sold 6,000 of its patents for $4.5 billion to the Rockstar Consortium, comprised of Apple, Microsoft, Research in Motion, Ericsson, EMC and Sony.

Rockstar, located in Ottawa, is run by John Veschi, former Chief IP Officer of Nortel, and is actively licensing its lucrative portfolio. Recently Apple bought 1,024 patents from it.

In a case that made international headlines Toronto-based i4i, Inc., a leader in the design and development of collaborative, XML-based content solutions and technologies, won a patent infringement decision against Microsoft for damages in excess of $300 million. It was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which rarely hears appeals of patent disputes, and affirmed 8 to 0.

Also Toronto-based, Northwater Capital (Northwater Patent Funding or NW IP Fund), helped to finance the i4i dispute against Microsoft. Northwater is a private investment company with offices in Toronto and Chicago. Northwater invests proprietary and client capital in intellectual property based investments, green energy endeavors and proprietary trading.

Canadians active in U.S. IP activities include Terry Dalzell (Quinn Pacific), Kent Richardson (former head of IP for Rambus), Kevin Rivette, formerly of IBM and Boston Consulting and Boyd Lemna, Senior Vice President of Licensing at Personalized Media Communications. Peter Misek at Jefferies & Company (and prior to that JP Morgan), one of the leading equity analysts in IT and storage, is from Toronto. (Apologies to the many people not mentioned.)

*     *     *

What’s up with Canada? At one time the cheap Canadian dollar was attractive to U.S. businesses that required expertise-intensive reverse engineering, such as patent defendants and some plaintiffs. With the Canadian and U.S. dollars now worth about the same, there is still good reason to rely on Canadian IP talent.

Canadians appear to be less conflicted than their U.S. neighbors about monetizing intangibles, their own and others’, and they have many with the right combination of technical, legal and business experience to do so — a hat trick if there every was one.

Illustration source: youthsareawesome.com


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