Monday, November 24, 2008
Many of India’s pharma companies, including even the big and transnational ones who themselves have some stake in innovation and R&D, are alleging that patent authorities in India have become very liberal when it comes to grant of patents. Many frivolous patents have been granted and even bogus applications are being entertained, they say. The Indian Pharmaceutical Alliance, a group of big India-born drug companies, is mulling a thorough study of the patents granted since 2005 to find out how many of these are in fact ‘bad patents.’ At the other end of the scale, the foreign pharma companies not only brush aside the allegation of granting patents for ‘trivial inventions’ but also aver that “a lot of important applications” have in fact been turned down by India’s patent authorities. The question that underlies this row is what’s a ‘patentable invention’. At a very general and non-codified level, the newness or rather the surprise element of an invention should be the deciding factor.
The World Trade Organisation’s Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement defines the term ‘patentable subject matter’ with due considerations to present-day commercial realities—it says an invention should be “new, involve an inventive step and capable of industrial application” to be deserving of a patent. National governments have drawn a lot of freedom from the TRIPS agreement itself and even autonomously to elaborate on the TRIPS definition. However, national laws of many countries, including the US, are framed in such a way that even “incremental, adaptive or cumulative” inventions could qualify for patents if such invention has a definitive industrial use and thereby considerable commercial value. Indian government has been chary about unfair patenting—thanks to lobbying by domestic industry and the unrelenting stand of leftist outfits. It introduced an additional provision—Section 3(d)—in Patents Act to make patenting criteria more stringent in the pharmaceutical space. This provision was introduced through the third amendment to the Act, which also introduced product patenting for pharma and agrochem inventions.
While the Big Pharma—the large pharmaceutical companies based in the US and EU who hold most of the patents—have been a strident critic of Section 3(d), international organisations like the World Intellectual Property Organisation endorsed it and termed it TRIPS-compliant. According to this provision, incremental inventions (like salts, isomers etc of known molecules) can be patented only if they have contributed to improve the efficacy of the (known) substance. And the patent authorities—read the examiners—would decide if efficacy has really been improved. The current strife over the allegation of the patent authorities practically becoming very liberal in grant of patents would need to be viewed in this context. The fact is India’s Patent Act, even with the fairly elaborate rules notified under it including those to support the Section 3(d), bestows substantial discretionary authority with the patent authorities. Patent examiners in India are still grappling with the complexity of the world of pharmaceutical inventions—the area is abstruse and dynamic enough to baffle even the seasoned examiners. Leaving a lot of things to the discretion of a group of patent examiners is therefore bound to generate conflicts. Here, what the government can do is to create many layers of examiners so that the probability of genuine error can be minimised. But the patent examination, search and grant system in India is currently highly unorganised. The four patent offices—Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai—are yet to achieve a fair degree of cohesiveness among them. These offices, manned by patent controllers and scores of patent examiners who assist them, are allegedly employing separate yardsticks and this is what caused the current allegations and counter-allegations. Clearly, there is a case for a very high degree of coordination between the four patent offices. Patents are anyway prone to contestation. Some disputes would inevitably reach the courts. Such disputes can however be minimised by bringing as much uniformity as possible in standards of patent grant. The Patent Act already provides for pre and post grant opposition and making a review plea before the controller who granted/denied the patent. And there’s the intellectual property appellate board, which is the body for the aggrieved to appeal to. What is lacking is proper coordination among the patent controllers and examiners. The government would do well to address the issue immediately.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
The bill significantly toughens civil and criminal laws against counterfeiting and piracy, provides law enforcement agencies with increased funding for investigations and prosecutions, and creates a new White House office of IP enforcement coordinator.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
India is signatory to the following international copyright agreements- this means U.S. citizens enjoy the rights and privileges afforded by these international agreements adopted by the Indian legislature,- (a) the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic works; (b) the Universal Copyright Convention; (c) the Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms against Unauthorized Duplication of their Phonograms; (d) Multilateral Convention for the Avoidance of Double Taxation of Copyright Royalties; and (e) the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
Indian International Copyright Order grants protection to foreign works from the following 116 countries. Indian protection of foreign works from these countries is relevant for U.S. businesses registered under the laws of any of them. E.g. if a U.S. business registered in St. Kitts & Nevis produces a copyrighted work and outsources some activity related to this work to India, India is going to protect that work as a foreign work. The International Copyright Order includes Albania, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Bosnia & Herzogovina, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, China, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica , Cote d'Ivoire, Croatia , Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Holy See, Honduras ,Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, Latvia, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Lithuania , Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Malta, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, Niger, Nigeria, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Suriname ,Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, The Former Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yugoslavia, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Monday, September 08, 2008
The networking site, Facebook, has restricted the popular “add-on” application, ‘Scrabulous’ to most users. Mattel Inc. owns Scrabble rights outside Canada and the United States of America and had approached the Indian courts in February 2008, seeking an order for taking down Scrabulous from Facebook and other servers.
The brothers, Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, and their web-design and technology company, R J Software, were previously served a lawsuit by game-making giant Hasbro Inc., owner of Scrabble rights in Canada and the U.S. , at a New York federal court for violating its copyright and trademarks. Hasbro also sent a notice demanding that Facebook remove the application from the site. “Facebook took the unfortunate decision to restrict most users from accessing Scrabulous on August 22, in response to a ‘take down notice’ from Mattel on August 14,” said Mr. Jayant.
Mr. Jayant said, “The High Court had reserved judgement in this matter after hearing both parties. It surprises us that Mattel chose to direct Facebook to take down Scrabulous without waiting for the High Court’s decision.” He also sounded disappointed with Facebook as he said, “It is even more astonishing that Facebook, which claims to be fair and neutral party, took the step even though they were fully aware of the circumstances under which the Mattel letter was sent.”
“We now await the decision of the High Court and shall accordingly decide our future course of action regarding Scrabulous,” Mr. Jayant asserted.
Thursday, July 31, 2008
In a bid to promote awareness of intellectual property rights issues and provide information about IP in the Arab world, the first dedicated IP Arab satellite channel has been launched.
Based in Smart Village in Cairo with offices in most major cities of the world, the first independent IPR satellite channel will have exclusive programmes that tackle IPR issues regionally and globally.
The new channel, launched on 7 July and reporting in both Arabic and English, will broadcast on NileSat.
‘The idea behind establishing a satellite channel dedicated to IP rights is to strengthen awareness in IP issues and give a clearer image of the IP situation in the Arab world. The new satellite channel is intended to a credible source of information that satisfies the growing interest in issues relating to IP. It will also contribute to the promotion of IP awareness in the region and around the world,” said Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of the Talal Abu-Ghazaleh organisation, an Arab organisation for global professional services including intellectual property rights. Abu-Ghazaleh is owner of the new channel.
In 2004, Abu-Ghazaleh launched a one-of-a-kind project, the ag-IP-news agency, a specialised global intellectual property news agency.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Scrabulous.com was launched by brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla in India in 2005 and rocketed to popularity as a free "add-on" application for Facebook, where more than 500,000 people reportedly play the online word game daily.
Toy and game manufacturers Hasbro and Mattel, which share ownership of the Scrabble trademark, asked Facebook in January to remove the renegade online version of its game from the website.
The lawsuit is weak leverage against the brothers, since Scrabulous lists no assets in the United States and a court decision here would need backing by India's legal system to be enforced. "Our hope and expectation is that the parties can resolve their disagreements in a manner that satisfies the parties, that continues to offer a great experience to gamers and that doesn't discourage other developers from using our platform to share creativity and test new ideas," Facebook said.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Stiglitz criticised the current approach of treating copyright and patent rights as "intellectual property". Intellectual property, he insisted, is public property and not something to be "owned". It is difficult to prevent others from enjoying its benefits, he said, because it is fundamentally different to, and should not be compared to, the ownership of physical property. This approach creates monopoly power over knowledge that is often abused. Stiglitz gave as an example the current "patent thicket" in software, which results in anyone who writes a successful software program being sued for alleged patent infringements.
Compromise on intellectual property issues remained elusive at last week’s World Trade Organization ministerial meeting. An initial statement by the European Union initially identified GIs as a "poltical must have," along with agriculture, non-agricultural market access, and services. However, the US later announced that it does not intend to engage in negotiations on GI extension. "These TRIPS issues are important to many members, but we think it's vital to keep the focus of this meeting on agriculture, (manufactured goods), services. This meeting is not the time to create new mandates on the TRIPS issues," a spokesperson for US Trade Representative Susan Schwab reportedly said at a press briefing on 22 July.
Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Støre is continuing informal consultations on three intellectual property issues: 1) the multilateral register for wines’ and spirits’ geographical indications (GIs), 2) extending geographical indications protection beyond wines and spirits (“GI extension”), and 3) proposals to require patent applicants to disclose the origin of genetic material and traditional knowledge. Støre told Intellectual Property Watch late Thursday that movement on these issues would depend on progress on agriculture and non-agricultural market access.
The WTO's goal for this so-called "July 2008 package" was to agree on “modalities” in agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) — ie, the formulas and other methods to be used to cut tariffs and agricultural subsidies, and a range of related provisions — and to look at the next steps in concluding the Doha round of negotiations.
Friday, July 25, 2008
You can obtain English machine-translations for Japanese patent and utility model documents from 1993 onwards on the Japan Patent Office's free-of-charge "IPDL" (Industrial Property Digital Library) internet service at http://www.ipdl.inpit.go.jp/homepg_e.ipdl.
From the IPDL homepage, choose the "Patent & Utility Model Gazette DB" link. A simple number search will - as a first search result – return the PAJ English abstract, where available. Clicking the "Detail" button on the top of the result screen will start the machine-translation of the original Japanese unexamined application. Alternatively, clicking the "Japanese" button will display the original Japanese document. In cases where no PAJ English abstracts exist you will immediately get the machine-translation from the Japanese.
See the screenshots at http://www.jpo.go.jp/torikumi_e/hiroba_e/paj_15.htm
You can also try Yahoo! Babel Fish - Text Translation and Web Page Translation
LexisNexis offers a fee-based English machine translation service of Japanese patent documents "in minutes" at $39 per translated document (regardless of length).
The CPMT service is integrated with an English search interface and can be used for obtaining the English full text (including claims and specification) from a searched result (by previous human translation).
See the screenshots at http://www.cnpat.com.cn/430homepage/guidehome.html and then start by choosing “Patent Search and Machine Translation” from the homepage of China Patent Information Center (CPIC) at http://www.cnpat.com.cn/.
Beginning July 1, 2008, the Copyright Office is offering online registration of claims to copyright. Online registration through the electronic Copyright Office (eCO) is the preferred way to register basic claims for literary works; visual arts works; performing arts works, including motion pictures; sound recordings; and single serials. Advantages of online filing include a lower filing fee; the fastest processing time; online status tracking of your claim; secure payment by credit or debit card, electronic check, or Copyright Office deposit account; and the ability to upload certain categories of deposits directly into eCO as electronic files. To register your claim electronically, go to the Copyright Office website at http://www.copyright.gov/ and click on the eCO logo.
According to the USPTO on July 23, 2008, applicants and registered patent practitioners are reminded that the export of subject matter abroad pursuant to a license from the United States Patent andTrademark Office (USPTO), such as a foreign filing license, is limited to purposes related to the filing of foreign patent applications. Applicants who are considering exporting subject matter abroad for the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States should contact the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the Department of Commerce for the appropriate clearances.
If an invention was made in the United States, technical data in the form of a patent application, or in any form, can only be exported for purposes related to the preparation, filing or possible filing and prosecution of a foreign patent application, after compliance with the Export Administration Regulations (governing exports of dual-use commodities, software, and technology, including technical data, which are codified at 15 CFR Parts 730–774) or following the appropriate USPTO foreign filing license procedure. See 37 CFR 5.11(c). A foreign filing license from the USPTO does not authorize the exporting of subject matter abroad for the preparation of patent applications to be filed in the United States.
Information regarding the EAR may be obtained from the BIS Web site at http://www.bis.doc.gov. Questions regarding the EAR should be directed to the BIS’s Outreach and Educational Services Division at (202) 482–4811.
A couple who bought a web domain name as a birthday present for their 11-year-old son have lost a battle with the estate of C.S. Lewis to keep it. Richard and Gillian Saville-Smith, from Edinburgh, paid £70 for the name www.narnia.mobi in September 2006 so that their son Comrie, who is a fan of C.S. Lewis, could use it as an e-mail address. The author's estate lodged a complaint with the World Intellectual Property Organisation, which ruled yesterday that the domain name should be transferred.
Companies had a three-month period in 2006 to express interest in .mobi website names before they became more widely available. The couple bought the Narnia name, along with a number of others, including The Queen.mobi and USPresident.mobi, “just for fun”.
Domain name disputes focus partly on whether a “cybersquatter” is using the site for commercial gain and whether trademarks are involved. Mr Saville-Smith claimed yesterday that he had done nothing at all with the site and had not tried to make any money from it.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Percept Picture Company has brought an injunction against UTV Motion Pictures, alleging that the idea of Shoojit Sircar's Shoebite was earlier sold to them as Johny Walker with Big B in the lead. But UTV representatives said they had not received any injunction order yet.
Shailendra Singh of Percept said, "We were to make Johny Walker with Amitabh Bachchan and Shoojit Sircar. Bachchan was even paid a signing amount but we couldn't manage to get the shooting dates and so the project was put on hold. We were very excited about the film, dealing with a pan-India subject, and our company even did a reconnaissance for it." Bachchan apparently even returned the signing amount to Percept and the whole matter was put behind by the company till it saw some promotional material of a film titled Shoebite, with Bachchan and Sarika in the lead. "A red alarm went off in my head," Singh said. "I realised that Shoebite looked identical to our film, Johny Walker." Singh said he tried calling UTV's Ronnie Screwvala but failed. Meanwhile, Percept gathered evidence to try and prove that Sircar had sold the same subject to UTV. Percept then did what it thought was correct; it took the matter to court. The official release from Percept Holdings said, "Percept approached the Delhi high court to protect its intellectual property in the script, Johny Walker, which has been registered. Counsel Rajiv Nayyar, instructed by Ameet Naik of Naik, Naik and Company, and Rishi Agarwal appeared for Percept. The Delhi high court was prima facie convinced that Shoojit Sircar disregarded the terms of his engagement with Percept and was making the Amitabh Bachchan-starrer, Shoebite, with UTV based on Percept's script. The high court granted an injunction, restraining UTV from infringing on Percept's copyright in the script and dialogue of the film, Johny Walker, in any manner, including by making the film, Shoebite, based on the script." It is an ex-parte injunction and a notice has been issued to UTV and Sircar. The court will next hear the matter on September 3. Trade reports say Shoebite is almost 60% complete, having finished schedules in Shimla and Nashik. UTV said it had not received any injunction order while Sircar remained unavailable for comment. Singh and Percept are, however, adamant that UTV will not be able to continue with the shooting/trading of Shoebite till the legal issues are sorted out. But what is the film, Shoebite, about?
Bachchan has written on his blog, "The film is a glimpse into the life of 60-year-old bookstore owner John Pereira, a man like most married men, who takes his wife of 40 years, Aditi, somewhat for granted. His entire world, however, turns upside down the day Aditi meets with a near-fatal accident and falls into deep coma. Sitting there by the side of her inert form, John decides to do something for her as an act of penance. Something extraordinary."
Software piracy is a huge problem in India. As a result of which many global computer giants are facing the heat worldwide. The best possible way to put an end to software piracy in India is a close coordinated scheme between private and public sectors in the country, Director of Copyright Law at WIPO Jorgen Blomgvist told PTI.
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy began on Friday to talk with officials about IP issues in an attempt to find a way to navigate the standstill on them, sources said. Lamy held meetings on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, they said. However, on Monday evening, the issue was not a primary topic of the Green Room meeting, the smaller, closed gathering held in Lamy’s office. The ministerial is scheduled to run from 21-27 July.
Monday, July 21, 2008
The number of domain name disputes lodged in terms of the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Procedure (UDRP) that applies to .com, .net and .org domain names increased by 18% in 2007 compared to the number filed in 2006 and by 48% versus the number lodged in 2005.
The rise of "pay-per-click" advertising, whereby cybersquatters associate the domain name they have registered with a website containing adverts promoting a variety of competing brands. Every time Internet users access this website and click on one of the adverts, the cybersquatter receives money.
Domain tasting, whereby cybersquatters register a number of domain names and then wait several days before paying for the domain names. They then count the domain names that attract the most Internet users and then pay for only for those. The remaining domain names are then deleted. Problem is, in the period between the cybersquatter registering and paying (or does not pay) for the domain name, it is reflected as being registered.
The use of privacy services by cybersquatters, who are thereby able to register domain names without revealing their identity to the general public. Cybersquatters can thus remain anonymous while trade mark proprietors must go to great lengths to establish the cybersquatter's identity.
"Dot-com," the ubiquitous term that has come to serve as a description for all things Internet-related, could be in the sunset of its heyday following a key decision on domain names.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann -- the body that regulates the Internet, voted unanimously on Thursday to ease up restrictions on domain names such as .com or .net.
The decision, made on the final day of week-long meetings in Paris, could trigger a frenzy of bidding as companies rush to claim domains like .investment or .travel. In fact almost anything could become a web address under the new rules -- from personal names to trademarked brands for major corporations. Be prepared for .news, .startrekfans and .somethinginappropriate.
Bidding wars for domain names are expected to reach well in the six-figures. "You can pretty much guarantee, unfortunately, (that) the most sought after one will probably be .sex," Bryan Glick of Computing Magazine said. Although, that could mean pornographic sites would move to their own neighbourhood on the web, making it more difficult to unintentionally stumble onto naughty sites. Individuals could get domains named after themselves so long as they could prove they have a business plan and "technical capacity" according to the plans for the system.
However, companies with intellectual property linked to a specific name will have first dibs on their own domain, like .ctv, for example. The new rules would mark a historic change from the current system where only .com, .net, .edu or .org are permitted, in addition to country domains like .ca or .au.
The new system could be in place as early as next year, but many details have to be worked out first.
A major test case on internet names is due to be resolved – with the couple who bought narnia.mobi taking on the company that owns the rights to CS Lewis' world-famous books. CS Lewis (Pte) Ltd contests that Richard and Gillian Saville-Smith are essentially cybersquatting by owning the domain – which they say they bought for their 11-year-old son Comrie.
"We were saving it as a surprise for our little boy's birthday – to coincide with the release of the new Narnia film – so that he could have one of the coolest email addresses in the world!" poet Mrs Saville-Smith told the BBC.
The domain was bought back in 2006, when the new .mobi domains came in and the case is being investigated by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO). CS Lewis (Pte) Ltd has insisted that Mr and Mrs Saville-Smith have been using the domain in 'bad faith' to make money, a claim which the couple, from Edinburgh, deny.
Monday, July 14, 2008
The Artists' Resale Right hit the news again recently thanks to a letter to The Telegraph from a host of prominent British contemporary artists (including Damien Hirst) calling for the right to be extended to the estates of deceased artists.
Introduced two years ago, the right gives living artists a 4% slice of any sale proceeds when their work is resold later in their career. Though the drop-off in the London art market predicted by auction houses when the levy was introduced does not appear to have hit the fortunes of Sotheby's et al, this interesting piece from The Economist underlines some of the drawbacks of the resale right as well as its advantages.
A decision by the House of Lords backing Angiotech Pharmaceuticals in a dispute with Conor MedSystems is being hailed as a groundbreaking decision that will make it easier for pharmaceutical firms to get patent protection in the UK.
According to Canada-based Angiotech, the Lords confirmed, “in a precedent-setting decision”, the validity of one of the firm’s patents related to its paclitaxel coated stents. The patent in question was granted in June 1997 and opposed by Conor and four other companies but after more than “nine years of legal battles, their challenge proved unsuccessful and the validity of the patent was maintained,” Angiotech notes. Then, in February 2005, Angiotech brought a lawsuit against Conor in the Netherlands and the latter responded by commencing proceedings in the UK to revoke the patent. Conor argued that the claims in the patent lacked “inventive step” (ie, were obvious) under UK law. Both the UK trial court and the UK Court of Appeal decided that the patent was indeed invalid so Angiotech appealed to the House of Lords which has upheld the validity of its patent and agreed with the Dutch court’s earlier decision that clarifies the obviousness standard in relation to innovations. Commenting on the case, Sue Streatfield, an intellectual property specialist at law firm Eversheds, said it could lead to “a lowering of the current threshold for achieving inventive step”. She noted that Lord Hoffman found that the test for the latter is to be determined by whether the product is obvious not whether it has the claimed effect. Therefore, “so long as a patent is sufficient, the test should not be affected by the amount of evidence the specification contains as to whether the invention will work,” Ms Streatfield added. The House of Lords decision, which was unanimous, reflects “an important development in bringing uniformity to the interpretation” across Europe, Angiotech added.
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Nearly 65 lots of IP assets were offered for sale in 20 categories including smart cards, manufacturing and automation, online and mobile commerce, lighting technology, telemedicine, computer systems and software, digital media systems, domain names, security and authentication systems, messaging and electronics and handheld devices. Total sales for the live auction conducted in Amsterdam came to USD $12.6 Million (INR 544 Crore), including buyers premium.
Indian technology companies facing cost pressures from a global economic slump and domestic competition are seeking a way out by boosting R&D investments to develop semiconductor intellectual property.
Ittiam Systems and Cosmic Circuits are pursuing the pure IP route, having rejected the services business; service providers Wipro and Mindtree are now developing chip IP and are using it to attract new services around their IP products.
Ittiam Systems is India's largest pure IP company, focusing on advanced media communication applications for which software solutions are either unavailable or too expensive. Its IP includes synthesizable RTL cores that can be integrating into an ASIC being designed by its customers.
In 2005, Ittiam began investing in multi-format high-definition video decoder IP. The video decoder can handle most video standards, enabling SoCs for HDTV and HD-DVD applications," said Srini Rajam, Ittiam's chairman and CEO.
"Venture funds and investors believe that IP companies cannot scale in revenue," said Ganapathy Subramaniam, CEO of Cosmic Circuits, an analog semiconductor IP company. "ARM and Rambus have proven them wrong. But it is also a fact that while there are many IP companies in the world, only very few of them have been able to scale in revenue."
Cosmic has created over 75 analog IP cores for portable power management, video analog front-end, WLAN and WiMax analog front-ends. The company works with more than 10 foundries to create IP cores from 0.35 nm to 65 nm.
"India is slowly emerging from services and getting into the business model of licensing IPs," Subramaniam added. Market researcher Gartner Inc. ranks Wipro-NewLogic as the leading global provider of WLAN and Bluetooth IP, estimating that it holds two-thirds of the global market for IEEE 1394 IP cores. Wipro's chip IP arm is focusing on wireless and wireline connectivity.
"Developing IP is an important differentiation for the leading design service houses and...wireless communication, analog components and DSP-based IPs are the areas of promise for Indian companies," said A. Vasudevan, vice president of semiconductor and system solutions at Wipro Technologies.
Mindtree Ltd., which specializes in short-range wireless technologies, said it is focusing on Bluetooth IP. It has invested in ultrawideband technology, and plans to offer UWB IP in future products, according to S.N. Padmanabhan, senior vice president for semiconductors at Mindtree.
Mindtree also has several peripheral IP blocks usually bundled with the Bluetooth or UWB products. "The entry barrier is very low if someone has to build synthesizable IP at the RTL level," Padmanabhan said. "The semiconductor industry needs various IPs [and] smaller players can provide small, standards-based, popular IP blocks." Building IP blocks is the easy part, he added, noting that "marketing them is the toughest."
Sridhar Mitta, who headed Wipro's unsuccessful IP startup EnThink, acknowledged that India's track record for IP development is not good. "The [lessons] of EnThink are that product or IP companies will not get attention in large service companies," he said. "Indian companies will see IP business as an adjunct to their service businesses."
Matta said the best opportunities for Indian success in IP development are in volume markets like PCs or cellphones. Adopting standards and creating new ones will also boost India's IP efforts.
Gartner forecasts that Indian IP development will be dominated by big chip makers here as well as independent IP providers. "Some of the independent Indian IP providers are Wipro, Cosmic Circuits, Mindtree and HelloSoft," said Ganesh Ramamoorthy, Gartners' principal research analyst for semiconductor IP and design.
On a trip to Helsinki in Finland, Rajjat Barjatya stumbled upon 15,000 Indian families who had regular access to Bollywood movies even when no production house was distributing them there.
"The families were paying monthly rent to a website that delivered the latest pirated Bollywood content," says Barjatya, who figured that the Indian entertainment sector was being plagiarised and producers who were spending millions on marketing and publicity were being robbed, virtually.
"There was a huge gap in demand and supply of Bollywood content to NRIs settled all over the globe," adds Barjatya, the managing director of Rajshri Media, the digital arm of Rajshri Productions.
Not ready to give up on digital distribution just yet, entertainment majors such as Rajshri Media, UTV, YashRaj Studios, and Shemaroo Entertainment, among many others, are slowly building their digital roadmaps to tap the 5 million broadband-connected homes in India.
But the rising number of video-hosting sites also means that it is virtually impossible to keep track of illegal videos. Even as India's box office revenues are expected to swell up to $7.4 billion by 2010, according to PricewaterhouseCooper estimates, the downloaded content can garner more than $1.4 billion for the producers.
Online auctioneer eBay has been ordered by a French court to pay over $61 million to fashion label - LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA for selling counterfeit goods on its site. LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA is home to prestigious brands such as Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Fendi, Emilio Pucci, and Marc Jacobs. Allegedly, eBay had a sale of Louis Vuitton fakes; LVMH questioned whether the Internet is a free-for-all for the 'most hateful, parasitic practices'. eBay countered saying that LVMH's actions had more to do with protecting uncompetitive commercial practices at the costs of consumer choice and the livelihood of law-abiding sellers empowered by eBay than protesting against counterfeits.
A spokesperson for eBay said the auctioneer plans to appeal the ruling. All said, this isn't the first such instance of eBay having been sued by a luxury brand; past plaintiffs against the online auctioneer include the likes of Tiffany and Company (USA), Montres Rolex SA (Germany), and L'Oreal SA (Europe). eBay is like a magnet for counterfeiters mainly because of the sheer volume of products sold through its auction system as also the difficulty in patrolling fast-moving transactions. And like Google, eBay too relies on intellectual-property (IP) owners to alert the company about suspicious postings/products on its site. Nevertheless, the auctioneer maintains it spends millions of dollars every year trying to clean up fakes from its site.
Monday, July 07, 2008
Now, several big tech companies are banding together in a slightly different patent-related venture. Verizon, Google and Cisco are among a group of companies joining up to defend themselves against patent-infringement suits by buying up patents before the so-called patent trolls get their hands on them.
It might be the single company with the most patents that you’ve never heard of: Intellectual Ventures.
The six-year-old enterprise — the subject of a lengthy profile by Intellectual Property Law & Business — is the brainchild of Nathan Myhrvold, the former chief technologist at Microsoft. And its goal is singular: to amass dozens upon dozens of patents that it can license. (Intellectual Ventures claims to have no desire to manufacture or commercialize any products.) In March 2006, Myhrvold penned an opinion piece in the WSJ, “Inventors Have Rights Too.”
How does the company get its patents? Well, it buys a lot of them, with a $400 million war chest provided by a who’s who of tech companies: Nokia, Intel, Apple, Sony, and Microsoft. And according to the story, the secretive venture dreams them up, hiring fleets of consultants to brainstorming sessions on ideas in a variety of industries. Some in the IP asset management field estimate that Intellectual Ventures has amassed 3,000-5,000 patents.
As the patent stockpile grows, so does the speculation–and the fear. IP lawyers and tech executives worry that Intellectual Ventures is less interested in changing the world with big ideas, and more focused on becoming an uber-troll, wreaking litigation havoc across industries with its patents.
The privately held company won’t discuss its finances. But if it doesn’t work out, Myhrvold probably won’t have trouble finding work. According to the story, the 47-year-old gajillionaire holds advanced degrees in theoretical and mathematical physics, mathematical economics, geophysics, and space physics. He studied quantum physics at Cambridge with Stephen Hawking, is a published nature photographer and “has had his state-of-the-art kitchen–and his recipes–featured in New York Times magazine.”
Monday, June 30, 2008
Cost pressures, the need to tap global talent, and growth opportunities in emerging markets has led Western pharmaceutical companies to shift substantial manufacturing and clinical-trial works to India and China, according to a new study. Big pharmaceutical companies like Merck, Eli Lilly and Johnson and Johnson are now counting these two countries for advanced research and development, the study sponsored by the Ewing Marion Foundation said. Indian and Chinese scientists are rapidly innovating and creating their own intellectual property as a result of Research and Development activities, the report entitled 'The globalization of innovation: Pharmaceuticals. Can India and China Cure the Global Pharmaceutical Market".
In 2006, 5.5% of all global pharmaceutical patent applications (WIPO PCT applications) named one inventor or more were located in India, and 8.4% in China. This had increased fourfold from that in 1995. Through detailed interviews with executives of 16 pharmaceutical firms in China and India on their business models, value-chain activities, partnerships and technology capabilities, the researchers concluded that Indian and Chinese companies are making strides in most of the lucrative segments of global value chains. In less lucrative segments such as preclinical testing, animal experimentation and manufacturing, Chinese firms appear to be more prevalent while India is a more mature venue for chemistry and drug-discovery activities. Domestic Indian and Chinese firms rarely have the capital and the regulatory expertise to develop a drug beyond phase II clinical trials. Their commercial development of new intellectual property therefore necessitates relationships with major multinational corporations.
The study found that India is playing a more strategic role in early discovery and its drug companies have the most experience in selling generic drugs that meet FDA standards. Companies such as Ranbaxy, Aurigene, Advinus, Nicholas Piramal and Jubilant have negotiated long-term deals with Western pharmaceutical companies to discover and develop new chemical entities. In a growing number of cases, the Indian companies share the financial risk in discovery as well as the potential financial rewards. One Chinese company, Hutchison MediPharma, has formed a similar partnership with Eli Lilly. Others are likely to follow suit as Chinese contract research organizations gain experience and Western companies trust in China's ability to protect intellectual property, said the researchers.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Kamal Nath on Monday stated that a bilateral agreement on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) cooperation between the intellectual property offices of India and Singapore will be signed shortly. During his bilateral meeting with Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry of Singapore, Nath informed that as regards the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)-India FTA, considerable progress was made during the last meeting in Bali and added: "I am now hopeful that we would be able to achieve our target of announcing the conclusion of negotiations at the AEM-India consultations in August". During the interaction, Kamal Nath said that Singapore was India's fifth largest merchandise trading partner and fourth largest merchandise export market and added that India's exports to Singapore grew by 16 per cent in the year 2007-08 compared to a growth of 42 per cent in the imports from Singapore.
He further stated that Singapore ranks fourth in terms of foreign direct investment in India during the period 1991-2008 with investments of 4.7 billion dollars. The total bilateral trade during 2006-07 was 11.49 billion dollars and has increased by 25.88 per cent to 13.42 billion dollars in the year 2007-08 (upto February 2008) over the same period in 2006-07. Major items of Indian exports to Singapore were: petroleum (crude and products); other commodities; transport equipments; electronic goods and non-ferrous metals. Major items of Indian imports from Singapore were: electronic goods; petroleum (crude and products); organic chemicals; machinery (except electrical and electronic) and project goods.
The top five sectors attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows from Singapore are: petroleum and natural gas, mining, services sector, construction activities and power, whereas the top five sectors attracting technology transfer are: electrical equipments (including computer software and electronics), hotel and tourism, food processing industry, chemicals (other than fertilizer) and miscellaneous mechanical and engineering industries.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
The Lab, set up in 2000 with the aim of bolstering research practices, has filed over 100 patent applications in the last 18 months. The two patents have come at a time when the company is looking at non-linear growth model, breaking the link between revenue and employee growth.
Existing technologies use high resolution LCD to give the illusion of 3-D while actually displaying a 2-D image. Actual 3 dimensional imaging which includes a representation of depth information along with amplitude information is not being used in these cases. This patent addresses the issue of 3-D in mobile communication.
The patent titled "method and system for providing reliable and fast communications with mobile entities" proposes a mobile Internet Protocol-based solution to support generic mobility over heterogeneous networks.
There are a number of problems to be overcome to support generic mobility over heterogeneous networks today. This solution leverages a split-TCP type approach where the TCP connection between the communication entities is split at a suitable gateway.
The solution does not require any extension at the mobile host and provides improved performance even for mobility across heterogeneous networks due to an inherent ability to adapt to changing network characteristics. It supports communication between two mobile hosts or between a fixed and a mobile host, where mobile host(s) can roam over heterogeneous networks and also supports a layer 3 handoff.
Across Indian IT services companies, the $5.7-billion TCS has filed over 200 patent applications in the last five years. Says Avinash Vashishta, CEO, Tholons (an advisory firm), "India IT majors have been running a software factory and R&D is one area where they have to do a lot. The focus being services, barring a few small exceptions they have not been able to create a business around R&D — that is, develop IP products and market them." Now, to get to the higher billing tasks and delink revenue growth from manpower growth, a focus on R&D is a must. The top IT majors could show the way.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
The government’s ambitious project to encourage electronic filing of patent and trademark applications has received an embarrassingly poor response in its first year. Of the 35,000 patent applications filed last year, only 410 (1.17%) were filed online. Worse, only 0.24% or 242 of the one lakh trademark applications during 2007-08 were filed online.
The facility for filing of patent and trademark applications from anywhere in the world at any time through the Internet, was launched in July 2007 to help the Indian Patent and Trade Mark Offices function as paperless offices. Government officials termed the poor show as “teething troubles” and blamed it on ignorance and reluctance on the part of Companies and individuals to use the new system.
To correct the situation, the government had asked patent officers and the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to provide training to patent attorneys, through a programme conducted in the four metros. Consequently, in the two months of the current financial year, online applications for patents and trademarks have improved marginally. Online applications constituted 4.9% of the 6,000 patent applications filed so far in this financial year while it also constituted 1.34% of the 20,000 trademark applications.
Currently, there are only about a dozen countries that have e-filing facilities, with India recently becoming a member of this elite group which consists of countries like USA , Japan , South Korea, China and the European Patent Office. With patent applications from China outstripping those from India by leaps and bounds, the Centre has launched a national awareness, sensitisation and consultancy programme by roping in universities, laboratories, state level chambers of commerce and industry, patent attorneys and the scientific community.
The proactive campaign which involves an outlay of Rs 20 crore, would establish a correlation between intellectual property, innovation, productivity and competitiveness. The objective of the programme was to take the intellectual property regime to the bottom of the industrial pyramid and invigorate the proprietary rights culture in the country. An effective online filing system can prove to be the lynchpin for this strategy’s success.
The benefits of e-filing of patent and trademark applications include getting an application number immediately, on-line verification assuring error-free filing and obtaining the filing date, a speedy registration process, being able to save the date locally in the applicant’s personal computer, printing the completed application data and recalling the contact details for subsequent applications. This would have meant savings on paper, valuable time and money.
Payments can be made through the Payment Gateway of authorised bankers, which would save time and money and also put an end to the hassles involved in visiting and filing the applications in the offices. NIC has developed modules for e-filing and on-line processing with State Bank of India providing the payment gateway.
But patent lawyers said though the e-filing system is a major improvement over the previous one, it also hasits own limitations.
Incidentally, the government is working towards sending more officials to be trained by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, UNIDO, as well as Japanese and US patent offices. Several vacant posts of patent examinees also need to be filled up.
To enhance the prestige of the Indian Patent Office (IPO) and to attract work from abroad, the government is also in the process of transforming IPO into an International Search Authority and an International Preliminary Examining Authority under the Patent Cooperation Treaty. Currently, there are only 12 such authorities.
Besides, India would soon join the Madrid Protocol on Trade Marks. Madrid Protocol is a simple and cost-effective system for registration of International Trademarks. India’s membership of the Madrid Protocol will aid Indian Companies in registering their trademarks in other member countries of the Protocol through a single application.
Ficci and the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) have constituted a Consultative Working Group to make the Indian Patent Office more responsive to industry. In recommendations made to DIPP, Ficci said users who file patent applications electronically should be incentivised by reducing their filing fee. Transactions of records across patent offices also need to be expedited, it said.
As a result of deliberations of the consultative group, a separate wing in Mumbai Patent Office has been set up for data analysis. The data include records on technical fields by year of filings, number of patents granted to a company in each sector, list of companies filing patents, pending applications and country-wise patents in force. The patent office has also made online the abstracts of patent applications as well as copies of patents granted and decisions of the controllers, enabling third parties to check legal status of the patent application, the chamber said.
Monday, June 02, 2008
For example, advocates in India are not allowed to advertise. More over, there are restrictions on the number of partners in a legal firm, which cannot cross 20. The Bar Council of India Rules prohibit Indian advocates from sharing remuneration with any person or legal practitioner who is not an advocate.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
A ruling by the Supreme Court on Tuesday ended the almost two-decades-long challenge by an association of Scotch whisky makers to Khoday India Ltd’s right to have a non-Scotch whisky brand called Peter Scot because of the similarity between the words “Scot” and “Scotch”.
But the ruling could result in global retaliation and affect Indian products such as basmati rice and Assam tea, say analysts. That’s because the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Khoday despite the geographical indication (GI) status enjoyed by Scotch. Unlike a trademark—a unique and distinctive sign to identify a product or service—a GI is a sign used on goods that have a specific place of origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin.
In many cases, a GI is merely the name of the place where the goods originate. “Champagne” and “Tuscany” are some examples of GIs. Indian examples include “Assam tea”, “Darjeeling tea” and “Kanchipuram silk saree”. Basmati rice is also a GI.
In this case, Khoday, which began producing Peter Scot 40 years ago, registered the trademark in 1974. Twelve years later, the Scotch Whisky Association or SWA, a group of manufacturers and exporters of Scotch whisky, raised an objection before the registrar of trademarks, arguing that the word “Scot” was deceptively similar to “Scotch” and would mislead the consumers into believing that the product was of Scottish origin. The registrar ruled in SWA’s favour.
Khoday appealed to the Madras high court which too ruled against it. The high court order delivered in October was challenged by Khoday in the Supreme Court.
A two-judge bench on Tuesday allowed the appeal and validated the use of the trademark “Peter Scot”.
The judgement swung in favour of Khoday on two points. The first was the delay of 12 years on part of SWA in filing an objection.
The second was that consumers of Scotch whisky in India are discerning enough to distinguish between Scotch whisky and whisky made in India.
Referring to precedents from countries such as Australia and the US, the judges said the legal test applied to check deception of consumers by the high court were incorrect.
The judgement states: “However, tests laid down in Australia and United States in respect of self-same goods are noticed herein before are somewhat different. But then we are concerned with the class of buyer who is supposed to know the value of money, the quality and content of scotch whisky. They are supposed to be aware of the difference of the process of manufacture, the place of manufacture and their origin.”
The apex court’s judgement, interestingly, overturns numerous verdicts of high courts in the country that granted SWA relief by passing restraining orders against liquor manufacturers in India for using words such as “Scot”, “Highland” and “Chief”, words that SWA contended were associated with Scotch whisky brewed in Scotland.