Tag Archives: trade secrets

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 

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

“Know-go” – negative know-how that can be protected as a trade secret is among IP’s most overlooked assets

Thomas Edison famously said: “I have not failed. I have just found ten thousand ways that won’t work.”

After hundreds of experiments with different materials for a long-lasting light bulb filament, Edison, as much as businessman as an innovator, zeroed in on carbonized thread.

“At that point,” says James Pooley, author of SECRETS: Managing Information Assets in the Age of Cyberespionage, “Edison had two trade secrets: first, the identity of the best material. And, second, the identity of the materials he had tried.”

Negative Know-How

A business’ lack of success, a matter of specialized know-how more aptly called “know-go,” is protected under trade secret law because it is valuable not only to it but to a competitor who wishes to catch-up without spending as much time and money.

Know-how, sometimes known as show-how, is the “secret sauce” that can give an otherwise mundane invention meaning. But the value of negative experience — of what not to do; of repeated failures and near successes — should not be under estimated.

The Intangible Investor in the December IAM magazine looks at “Failure – IP’s most underrated asset.” The full piece can be found here.

Costly Mistakes

A popular television series, “What Not to Wear,” has run for 345 episodes over ten years. The show advises women and men about how to spare themselves the cost, time and embarrassment of fashion faux pas. The value, the show’s loyal followers reason, is not only in identifying the right clothes choices, but in avoiding the more costly mistakes.

Information, data or experience that spares businesses time, cost and potential embarrassment is an asset, often an invaluable one, especially to large, risk-adverse businesses where R&D is at a premium.

Know-go is also attractive to potential acquirers who need to know how far towards a solution a target may have progressed.

Closely related to the concept of negative information is the idea that you can be guilty of trade secret theft (“indirect misappropriation”) even though your product looks very different, or significant investments have been made in your own research.

“Intangible assets of this nature that serve to avoid failure,” says Pooley, former Deputy Director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), “can be more valuable than knowledge that enables success.”

Image source: rundlesafety.co.za; wikipedia.org;

IP Dealmakers’ event Nov. 17-18 will focus on new opportunities; IP CloseUp readers can save $200

IP Dealmakers Forum is one of the more anticipated IP events of the year, especially for those engaged in patent licensing, sales, and M&A transactions. It also of signficant interest to investors. 

This year‘s event will feature a new track, Dealmaker Deep Dives, a shorter, more targeted discussions with experts taking an in-depth perspective on a specific set of issues. Each session includes extended time at the end for Q&A so the audience can really take advantage of the speakers’ expertise.

IP CloseUp readers go here for a promo code that provides a $200 discount.

ip-dealmakers-linkedin

Seizing Opportunities

“With the doom and gloom over patent licensing, the last couple of years we wanted to make sure the event was addressing the many new opportunities in the market,” said Forum director Wendy Chou, “In conversations with our board of advisers, past attendees and current IP holders, we were able to identify transaction areas that are being overlooked.”

Session titles include:

       – Seizing Opportunities to Invest in China’s Developing IP Market

       – Defining the IP Landscape in IoT: Strategy, Standards & Licensing

      – Trade Secrets — What IP Investors Need to Know

There also will be a panel on “efficient infringement,” a timely topic that grew out of attendee conversations during Q&A last year. The session is called:

Building a Better IP Market: Efficient Transactions vs. Efficient Infringement

  • A look at past attempts and business models
  • What does an efficient IP market look like?
  • Identifying challenges to progress

In terms of format, IP Dealmakers Forum (IPDF) has moved from all panel discussions to a mix of panels with patent holders, deal experts and investors taking an in-depth perspective. In 2016, as in past years, there is a strong lineup of speakers with a diverse mix of senior executives representing corporations, licensing companies, public and private market investors, law firms and other strategic advisors.

One-to-Ones

Face-to-face meetings continue to be a highly utilized aspect of the event, where attendees can schedule 30 minute sessions with one or more other attendees at any time during the event. A total of more than 425 meetings were scheduled over the past two IPDF, and the producers expect an even better response in 2016.

The IP Dealmakers Forum is organized by The IP Investment Institute, LLC and its partners Wendy Chou and Eric Salvarezza.

For the full IPDF agenda, go here.

To register, go here. There are still some remaining seats.

IP Marketplace

The IP Dealmakers Forum explores the challenges and opportunities in the changing IP marketplace. Lack of IP transaction data, information, and transparency pose serious challenges to market efficiency. However, they can create opportunities for investors who know how to leverage news, manage risks and connect with the right players.

IPDF attracts senior IP market participants from the finance, legal and business communities.

Image source: ipdealmakersforum.com

“Secrets” is required reading for informed managers and investors

In an information age that worships data and transparency, the trade or business secret has never been more valuable.  

“Secrets” is an essential guide to understanding, using and profiting from trade secrets, or “know-how,” perhaps the most misunderstood of intellectual property rights.

What I like best about James Pooley’s new book, subtitled Managing Information Assets in the Age of Cyberespionage, is the way he explores the ontology of proprietary business information – what it means, how it has come to exist, and how these secrets can be protected and monetized. He reminds us that even “negative” information can have significant business value.

A Silicon Valley veteran, Pooley has served as a lawyer, manager, diplomat, professor and writer. From 2009 to 2014 he was Deputy Director General for Innovation and Technology at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), an agency of the United Nations, where he ran the international patent system.

His seminal Trade Secrets for lawyers and Trade Secrets: A Guide To Protecting book_sideProprietary Business Information, first published in 1982 and aimed at business managers, are leading books in the field. Both have been reprinted.

Preferred Protection

Pooley says that despite the attention paid to patents, trade secrets are the preferred method of IP protection for R&D-intensive companies, and are relied upon at more than twice the rate of patents. He says that there are good reasons to have trade secrets:

“They’re cheap: you don’t have to pay for government certification. They’re broad, covering many things that patents can’t (indeed, they cover just about any business information, like sales data and strategic business plans), and unlike a published patent, you don’t broadcast to the competition what you’re doing.”

Enforcing a trade secret typically falls under state law, and there is no Patent Trial and Review Board or history of adverse judicial decisions to challenge their existence. [UPDATE: The Defend Trade Secrets Act, enacted on May 11, 2016, brought trade secrets under a unified federal law.]

“Secrets” provides readers much practical advice, including forms for confidentiality, non-confidentiality and consultant agreements. It is a handy and deceptively insightful book, and will open the eyes of even experienced managers. The book includes sample non-disclosure and other agreements, and suggests best-practices and safeguards that should be put in place before an employee leaves a company to discourage him or her from using or sharing proprietary information.

In reading this book we are remind us that secrets falling into the wrong hands can destroy a project, or even bring down a company. The same technology that enables seamless communications, also makes data theft easy, cheap and increasingly difficult to detect.

Know-How & Patents

Trusting employees, competitors, consultants with classified information, such as the specialized know-how, especially those that bring inventions or patents life, is a high-wire act that managers need help balancing. “Secrets” provides valuable guidance to managing those critical first-steps.

Trade secrets come in many forms. At some companies, patent licenses are effectively “given away,” because they facilitate lucrative technology licenses or know-how sales that enable a licensee to practice an invention more profitably. Just ask IBM. Know-how, sometimes marketed as “consulting,” is frequently the high margin, cash generator that get’s overlooked – the proverbial tail that wags the dog.

For more information about “Secrets,” to order, or for a free digital sample, go here.

Image source: veruspress.com; J. Pooley 

 

 

 


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