Tag Archives: intellectual property

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

 

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

Et tu, TechCo? Some potential patent licensees should be outed for abusive behavior

What is the appropriate response to a legitimate request for patent licensing?

If you are an information technology company comfortable taking full advantage of confusion in the patent system, and unfettered by business ethics, it may be tossing the offer in the garbage can — just because you can.

Can a business simply ignore a reasonable licensing offer or does it have an obligation, ethical or otherwise, to take seriously a reasonable request to consider a license to an invention it requires or may already be using?

For an executive at one inventor-owned business, Personalized Media Communications, being totally ignored when a legitimate request to discuss a patent license is presented is an abusive practice and a threat to innovation that must be stopped.

The Real Issue

“Too often, this abusive behavior is conflated with ownership models to deflect attention from the real problems,” said Aaric Eisenstein, VP Licensing Strategy. “PR efforts targeting ‘trolls’ have warped stories of threats to mom & pop businesses to cast large companies as the equally helpless victims of these ruthless predators… the real issue is abusive behavior, and that’s what needs to be targeted…

“The responsibility for ending abuse rests not only with the Patent Office and the federal courts but also with the stakeholders in the patent system themselves. The stakeholders cannot simply complain and lobby for one-sided solutions. They must work together to improve the system upon which they all depend.

“The responsibility for ending abuse rests not only with the Patent Office and the federal courts but also with the stakeholders in the patent system themselves.”

“Following these rules eliminates both problems: skimpy-to-ridiculous notice packages and throwing legitimate packages in the trash.  It doesn’t matter whether the companies are large or small or whether they’re direct operating competitors or have completely different ownership models. The critical point is that these standards are targeted to prohibit abusive behavior per se

“The US patent system was the envy of the world for generations.  It can be again if we’re honest about its shortcomings and address them in direct and balanced ways.”

The TROL Act in the House of Representatives reintroduced legislation with apparent bi-partisan support that would give the Federal Trade Commission and the state attorneys general authority to issue civil penalties up to $5 million for sending misleading or bad faith letters demanding patent licenses.

There is no indication that penalties will also be instituted for bad faith on the part of businesses that ignore legitimate offers to license good patents, forcing owners to file suit.

Eisenstein is grateful to USPTO Director Andrei Iancu for having “reminded patent system stakeholders what US inventors have given the world and the right way to enhance the system.”

For the full article, go here.

Image source: seapine.com

IP Awareness Summit update: keynotes to include top-ten inventor, Jay Walker, USPTO Director Iancu and IBM’s Schecter

Priceline.com founder and one of the most prolific and successful U.S. inventors in history will join USPTO Director Andrei Iancu and IBM Chief Patent Counsel Manny Schecter as featured speakers at the IP Awareness Summit in NYC on November 29.

The Summit will is being held by the Center for IP Understanding, an independent non-profit, at Columbia University’s famed Pulitzer Hall in the School of Journalism in conjunction with Columbia Technology Ventures.

Mr. Walker, an owner of TEDMED, which bridges the gap between science and the public, has long held that despite increases in U.S. technology and innovation, the patent licensing system is broken.

“The fact is that without a functioning licensing system we really don’t have what need to compete,” Mr. Walker, a former member of the Forbes 400, has stated. “Licensing is the way that inventions get into the economy; it’s the way they get used and brought into the marketplace and creates jobs and helps our economy to be more competitive.”

Mr. Walker is number eight on the U.S. all-time U.S. inventor list with 950 issued utility patents. Thomas Edison had 1,084. At the current pace, Walker will surpass Edison sometime in 2023. Many of his patents cover gaming and risk calculation.

Iancu and Schecter, too

Joining Mr. Walker as an IPAS 2018 featured speaker is USPTO Director Andrei Iancu, who will present at 1:30 and is likely to touch upon U.S. and China IP issues. Another featured presenter is Manny Schecter, Chief Patent Counsel of IBM, who will speak about the impact of a faster, more digitized world on IP and how it is seen.

Other speakers and panelists include a range of IP thought-leaders, owners, educators and organizations from the U.S., Europe and Asia, who will present and serve on panels. Luncheon breakout sessions will permit IP holders, creators and others to consider specific IP leadership challenges. Registration for IPAS 2018 is now open to the public but space is limited.

The IPAS 2018 theme – IP Literacy in a Digital World will be the basis for examining the impact of information and speed on how intellectual property is seen and often taken for granted, as well as ways to address the disconnect through education and the media.

To view the IPAS 2018 program and event website, visit www.ipawarenesssummit.com.

To register, go here.

The current list of IPAS 2018 participants and partners can be found on the home page. Persons who wish to apply for a discounted registration, contact explore@understandingip.org.

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

Image source: bloomberg.com; TEDMED

12-fold increase in China’s U.S. trademark apps; many are said to be fraudulent and improperly filed

Cash subsidies are among the incentives fueling a dramatic rise in U.S. trademark applications by Chinese filers. Thousands are said to be  improperly filed and unlikely to be granted. 

In a national effort to increase IP ownership China is paying companies and individuals, some of them prisoners, as much as the equivalent of $800 to register a trademark in the U.S.

“The U.S officials say many China filings show a pattern of suspicious claims about the goods in question and the qualifications of the attorneys handling them,” reports the Wall Street Journal.

China may be attempting to “disrupt” the U.S. system by flooding it with huge numbers of applications, making it potentially more difficult for business to obtain the marks they desire, especially those that may be associated with products that are sold in e-commerce.

Mark Cohen, UC Berkeley law professor and former USPTO expert on China told IP CloseUp that he did not believe there is a concerted effort to undermine the U.S. trademark system.

“China is metrics-driven, numbers-oriented society,” said Cohen, who is fluent in Chinese. “It wants to achieve government-established goals and will resort to incentives to achieve them. This planned approach can lead to the kind of spikes we have been seeing in trademark applications. The ultimate impact is unclear.”

In addition to paying cash incentives, China has been known, says Professor Cohen, to award tenure, defer income taxes and reduce sentences of prisoners who obtain marks. Similar motivations have been known to exist in the patent space, where China is a leading U.S. filer and number two globally. If the pattern continues, it will soon be number one in both trademarks and patents.

Numbers Game

This rapid rise does not necessarily lead to high quality IP rights or to appropriate use of them. But IP does apparently amount to something of a numbers came to China.

Cohen believes that many of the filers are small businesses selling online goods such as phone chargers and cheap clothing. Whether they are every in a position to enforce their marks, if infringed, remains to be seen.

Representing a number of Chinese trademark filers are foreign attorneys who are not licensed to practice in the U.S., which violates application rules.

These payments by the Chinese government amount to nearly $800 per US trademark registration that is obtained (a potential profit per trademark of $525 after filing fees), reports trademark attorney Josh Groben.

Full-time Job

“Given that the median monthly income for a Chinese citizen is around $1,000,” says Groben, “the government payments make it possible for someone in China to have a full-time income by registering just two US trademarks per month.”

The U.S. received more than 50,000 applications from China in the year through September 2017, accounting for 8.5% of all trademark filings.

It is difficult to know how aggressively legitimate Chinese trademark holders will enforce their rights against infringers. In the U.S. complete failure to enforce will lead to a weakening of an owner’s marks, loss of distinctiveness over time and potential forfeiture of certain available remedies.

Image source: creekmorelaw.com; lexology.com

Can the U.S. compete with China without a focused innovation policy?

More nations today have an innovation policy than do not – that is except for the U.S. 

The U.S. not only has no centralized innovation and intellectual property policy, it has no real strategy for making IP rights more meaningful and American businesses more competitive in the wake of initiatives from China.

Some believe it is not the job of policymakers to tinker with free-markets or favor certain industries. Well, that may have worked in the past, but with China committed to dominating global innovation – and with unlimited capital – the U.S. must reexamine its strategies.

What it is not supposed to do is assume that it is business as usual.

The United States has a tendency to repeat past mistakes, such as in the case of so-called “Japan, Inc.,” which devastated the auto and electronics industries with more advanced products. It is currently contending with China, which has approximately ten times the population of Japan and has quadrupled its investment in technology over the past decade.

“US innovation policy: Time for a makeover,” a fresh take on dealing with competition in the Intangible Investor, can be found in the July IAM magazine, out this week, here.

Innovation policy in the United States is mostly a series of suggested strategies and directives from several government agencies and industry organisations primarily designed to address foreign IP infringement (i.e., theft). It is often tied to science and economic policy, and is typically reactive – not proactive.

“Better innovation policy not only permits established industries to compete,” says the Intangible Investor, “it facilitates success for the next generation of inventors, authors, designers and software developers. It also helps to supply context for a confused and wary public susceptible to false media narratives – intellectual property is not the enemy, nor are rights holders and lawyers.”

Enforcement is Not Policy

Trump’s anger about China IP violations, justified or not, does not constitute an innovation policy. Innovation policy is not just about enforcement or supporting the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum for the next generation of inventors. It is about understanding the current economic and political context and responding as a nation.

“The FAANGs, and others, who dominate the competition and monetize their customers’ information, often without permission, realize they are increasingly symbols of bad business behavior,” Bruce Berman wrote recently in IP Watchdog. “The heat they feel from regulators in Europe and the U.S. will continue to rise.

“IP infringement will come to be seen as an increasingly important part of their bad behavior. The timing is perfect for them to step back and step up and show the leadership they heretofore have ignored regarding IP rights. Movement toward a responsible IP middle ground – a less entrenched position that recognizes others’ rights and actively conveys a greater willingness to share successes, not only defend them, will help to inform a meaningful IP policy.”

Quick-Reading Guide

For further background on U.S. innovation policy, read a timely and insightful perspective on U.S. innovation policy from James Goh, a young Wharton student from Singapore, “Primer: Innovation Policy in the United States.” 

For a linked quick-reading list about innovation and IP policy from the Center for IP Understanding, go to page 4.

Image source: q3research.com; breakinggap.com

 

 

Family Entertainment: This “Rube” saw the future and its foibles

San Francisco-born Reuben Garrett Lucius “Rube” Goldberg, an American cartoonist, sculptor, author, engineer, and inventor, best known for satirical cartoons that depicted complicated devices that performed simple tasks in creatively complex ways.

But Goldberg, born on July 4, 1883, was also a visionary, who saw the impact of personalized communications decades before it occurred. His Forbes cover,“After Color TV: The Future of Home Entertainment,” from March 15, 1967 (below) depicts a family with each member engaged with its own mostly flat screen and targeted content – including the baby and cat. Recall that in 1967 the idea of the color TV, aka “talking furniture,” was still relatively new.

Future Family: Alone Together

Note the types of content, the different screens and the interactive controller used by the father. The baby’s wind-up truck does not have a chance.

The Fun of Getting There

Goldberg is associated with popular cartoons depicting gadgets that perform simple tasks in indirect or complicated but imaginative ways, giving rise to the term “Rube Goldberg machine” for s similar gadget or process. Goldberg received many honors in his lifetime, including a Pulitzer Prize for his political cartooning in 1948.

Goldberg was a founding member and the first president of the National Cartoonists Society, and he is the namesake of the Reuben Award, which the organization awards to the Cartoonist of the Year.

He is the inspiration for various international competitions, known as Rube Goldberg Machine Contests, which challenge participants to make a complicated machine to perform a simple task (kind of the opposite of an invention, which attempts to solve a problem or improve efficiency).

The contest, in which college or high school students build devices to complete a simple task in a minimum of twenty steps in the style of Goldberg, is held throughout the United States, and local winners are eligible to compete in the national contest.

Rube Goldberg reminds us that how a simple problem gets solved can be as fascinating as the solution.

Source: imgur.com

Blockchain patent applications doubled in 2017 to more than 1,200

 1,240 blockchain patent applications were filed worldwide in 2017, up from 594 in 2016 and 258 in 2015. 

Among the leading filers were Bank of America, MasterCard, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, JP Morgan, and IBM.
According to data collected by the Korean Intellectual Property Office, and reported in CryptoCurrency, more than 1240 applications for blockchain-related patents were filed across South Korea, the United States, Japan, China, and Europe by the end of January 2018.

In December of 2017, CNBC reported that ‘patent trolls’ were coming for blockchain individuals and entire firms who seek to make fortunes off of amassing blockchain patents.

“Crush it”

“Nick (sic) Spangenberg, a notable patent entrepreneur,” reported the publication, said that his firm IPwe “is also looking to make big money by reforming the whole patent world.”

“It is a curious path how a collection of misfit trolls, geeks and wonks ended up here—but we are going to crush it and make a fortune,” said Spangenburg.

Image source: codeburst.io

E-cigarettes is the fastest growing patent class; followed by 3-D printing and machine learning

Vaping may not be a turn-on for everyone, but the fastest growing United States Patent and Trademark Office category over the past five years is e-cigarettes, with a compound annual growth rate of 45%.  

Much of e-cigarette growth, according to patent research company IFI Claims, who conducted the research, was in the subclass A24/47, “Simulated Smoking Devices.” The rapid growth within this classification may be due to full legalization of cannabis in some states, and prescription access in others.

Man smoking e-cigarette

Atria Client Services leads in this group with 90 published applications, followed by Philip Morris Products with 80.

The next fastest growing patent classification, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 35%, is 3-D Printing. 2017 published application leaders in this area were General Electric (89), Xerox (78) and Boeing (50). HP Development came in at 48.

The third most active patent category at 34% was Machine Learning, sometimes known as artificial intelligence. Companies leading in predictive models and related areas include IBM (654), Microsoft (139) and Google (127). They were followed by LinkedIn, Facebook, Intel and Fujitsu.

Driverless Space is Active

Fourth from the top at 27% was Autonomous Vehicles, USPTO patent classification GO5D. Applications included automatic pilots for air and land vehicles. IBM was the leader in this category, too, with 80 published patent apps, followed by Ford Global Technologies (79), Shenzhen-based, SZ DJI Technology (63), followed by Toyota, Honda, GM and Bosch.

The remainder of the top eight looks like this: Moulding Materials, 27% (Boeing, 3M Innovative Properties, Saudi-based SABIC Global Technologies, Honda, Xerox, Nike and Hyundai); Hybrid Vehicles, 26% (Toyota, Ford, Hyundai, Honda, GM, Scania and Kia); Aerial Drones, 26%, (Boeing, Sikorsky, SZ DJI Technology, Airbus GmbH, Goodrich Airbust Ltd., and Bell Helicopter Textron); and Food, 24% (Nestec (related to Nestle), Abbott, Danone Group division, Nutricia, Dutch multinational DSM IP Assets, Malaysian-based sweetener producer, PureCircle, Conopco (Unilever) and Mars.) This classification is called “Foods, Foodstuffs or nonalcoholic beverages.”

For the complete “Eight Fast Growing Technologies” slide deck, go here.

Image source: ificlaims.com; psu.edu; nebraskamanufacturing.com; datasciencecentral.com

 

Royalty rates paid musicians decline for some streaming services

When it comes to getting paid, the bigger streaming service is not necessarily better for most musicians and song writers.

While the revenue and market share have grown for the leading streaming services, some significantly, the royalties paid to artists have been declining.

According to a recent article in The Trichordist, a publication dedicated to the protection of artists rights in the digital age, streaming royalties paid to artists declined in 2017.

The blog took snapshots from a major indie portfolio for 2017, 2016 and 2013. It found that “when streaming numbers grow, the per stream rate will drop.”

This data set is isolated to the calendar year 2016 and represents a label with an approximately 150 album catalog generating over 115 million streams, a fairly good sample size. All rates are gross before distribution fees.

Spotify was paying .00521 back in 2014, two years later the aggregate net average per play rate dropped to .00437 in 2016, a reduction of 16%, reports the Trichordist. The current effective per stream rate at Spotify has now dropped to 0.00397, a reduction of 9% since last year. This a cumulative reduction of 24% since 2014, which is an average decrease of 8% a year of the per stream rate.

Business Model Questions

“If the music business could set a per stream rate that allowed revenue growth, proportionate to consumption growth that would be a much better model,” said David Lowery, editor of The Trichordist and leader of the band Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven. Lowery teaches in the Music Business Certificate Program at Terry College of Business, University of Georgia.

A notable change from last year is that Pandora replaces YouTube with the greatest value gap of streams at 21.56% volume with only 7.86% of revenue. YouTube drops to 8.38% of volume with only 1.70% of revenue.

Indie Label Sample: 115 Million Streams

Top Players

Apple appears to be the lone streaming service that is growing both in market share and revenue, and is paying relatively high royalties. It accounts for 22.29% of the revenue on 10.48% of the streams, and pays approximately six-times the per-stream royalty rate of Pandora. (Apple’s iTunes is a direct purchase model, while Pandora offers a more radio-like format, which precludes on demand listener selection.)

More than 95% of the streams and 98% of the revenue were concentrated in the top ten companies. The top three, Spotify, Apple iTunes and Pandora, comprise about 80% of the streams for this representative catalogue and 82% of the total streaming revenue.

For The Trichordist‘s 2017 streaming sample, go here; 2016, here; and 2013 here.

Image source: thetrichordist.com

 

IP “literacy” matters – Ideas Matter promotes IP understanding for all

A basic literacy about IP rights is everyone’s responsibility. 

While at times complex, patents, copyrights, and trademarks can be widely understood if people are clear about their purpose and who they benefit.

Putting IP rights in perspective is serious business – especially given that knowledge-focused economies place an increasingly high premium on innovation, authorship, and brand.

Ideas Matter, a London-based consortium of IP holders and innovative businesses believes it is necessary to provide audiences more information about why IP rights are important and how it affects people. Recently, it teamed with the Center for IP Understanding at the IP Awareness Summitt in Chicago, to produce a video about the need for everyone to know more about IP rights.

“I think the economies of the world have realized that the market is controlled by innovation and invention,” said Judge Randall Rader (ret.), Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. “That requires research, that requires development of new ideas and resources, and, of course, those investments need protection.  That’s where the intellectual property system pays benefits.”

Ideas Matter released a video of interviews with IP experts and holders conducted at the IP Awareness Summit in Chicago. IPAS 2017 was held by the Center for IP Awareness (CIPU) in conjunction with Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.

For background about the video and Ideas Matter, go here. Twitter: @IP_IdeasMatter.

To view the five-minute video, go here or click on the image above.

Image source: ideasmatter.com

IP CloseUp visits up 26% in 2017; page views up 31%; readers drawn from 134 nations and territories

IP CloseUp, the blog of IP perspective, research, and people, grew in 2017 to more than 56,000 views and 44,000 visits, up 26% and 31% respectively from 2016.

Now in its seventh year, IPCU was read in 134 nations and territories in 2017. The top ten readers were the U.S., Canada, India, UK, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, and France.  They were followed by the Netherlands, Japan, and China.

The most active month in 2017 was January, with 20,357 views. IPCU averaged a post a week and generated 52 posts for the year. Posts typically include links that make further research and exploration easier.

Since its inception in 2011, there have been more than 120,000 visits to IP CloseUp and 176,000 page views.

The most read post this year was about Robert Kearns, inventor of the intermittent windshield wiper, who was forced to sue U.S. and other automobile companies in the 1980s for patent infringement. The Kearns post generated 17,548 visits in January. A subsequent Kearns post published in 2016 can be found here.

IP CloseUp coverage includes patents, as well as copyrights, trademarks and trade secrets. Subscriptions are free. IPCU can also be followed on Twitter @ipcloseup.

Image source: http://www.ipcloseup.com

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