Thursday, July 31, 2008

First Arab Satellite Channel On IP Rights Launched In Egypt

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

Hasbro takes Facebook game Scrabulous to C-O-U-R-T [United States]

Game-making giant Hasbro has filed a lawsuit against Scrabble knock-off Scrabulous and sent a notice demanding Facebook remove the popular game from the social-networking website. 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.
On Thursday, Hasbro presented the request to Facebook in the form of a demand backed by US law regarding copyright infringement on the Internet.
Hasbro also filed a lawsuit against Scrabulous and the Agarwalla brothers in federal district court in New York. "Facebook has tried to use its status as neutral platform provider to help the parties come to an amicable agreement," the California-based website said in response to an AFP inquiry. "We're disappointed that Hasbro has sought to draw us into their dispute; nevertheless, we have forwarded their concerns to Scrabulous and requested their appropriate response."

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.
The Agarwallas have said in public reports that they expect fans to remain loyal to Scrabulous, from which the siblings earn advertising revenues. Filing of the civil suit comes a week after videogame colossus Electronic Arts released, with Hasbro's blessing, a free online Scrabble game customized for Facebook websites in the United States and Canada.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Nobel laureate criticises intellectual property rights system [International]

US economist Joseph Stiglitz has warned that intellectual property rights are stifling innovation. According to the Intellectual Property Watch news service, the professor, who was awarded a 2001 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on the relationship of information and markets, said at the opening of Manchester University's Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation on Saturday that the intellectual property rights regime "closes down access to knowledge". It was clear, he said, that specific restrictions applied particularly in the patent system.

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.
Another problem Stiglitz highlighted was that "the social returns from innovation do not accord with the private returns associated with the patent system. The marginal benefit from innovation is that an idea may become available sooner than it might have. But the person who secures the patent on it wins a long-term monopoly, creating a gap between private and social returns". The system is widening the gap between developed countries and developing countries, claimed Stiglitz, who is also known as a critic of globalisation. Medical care in threshold countries is suffering because patent rights are preventing the production of cheaper generic medicines.
The Nobel Prize winner does not believe that the patent system should be abandoned altogether, but sees a possible solution in restricting property rights to defined, tangible areas as well as to specific countries. Tools such as prizes or government funding could be used to promote access to knowledge and spur innovation in areas where there are well-defined objectives - such as a cure for malaria. John Sulston, a Nobel Laureate in medicine, shares Stiglitz's concerns. He expressed his apprehension about the continued trend towards the private ownership of science and innovation, which was funnelling research into areas that were particularly profitable whilst areas less likely to make money were being ignored. IP is an ideological issue in quarters such as the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), Sulston said. Drug companies see any improvements to the patent system as weakening it, but they forget that the system should be a “good servant” - and not elevated to a “theistic level".
In its latest annual report (PDF file), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) has now called for the business community to clarify the mechanisms of intellectual property rights for the benefit of the general public. The growing "politicisation" of the patent system and enforcement of copyright is bound to cause concern on the part of those who do not understand the system. The report says that business must focus greater attention on putting forward the very arguments that Stiglitz rejects, namely that commercial copyright not only encourages research and development but it also promotes transparency and the dissemination of knowledge.

WTO Ministerial Meeting: IP Compromise Remains Elusive

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

Free Japanese Patent Machine Translation Service

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

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

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).

Free Chinese Patent Machine Translation (CPMT) Service

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 and then start by choosing “Patent Search and Machine Translation” from the homepage of China Patent Information Center (CPIC) at

U.S. Copyright Office Offers Online Registrations

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 and click on the eCO logo.

Foreign Outsourcing of Application Preparation May Require Export Administration Review [US}

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 Questions regarding the EAR should be directed to the BIS’s Outreach and Educational Services Division at (202) 482–4811.

Author's estate wins battle of Narnia domain name [UK]

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 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 and, “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

Same script, 2 films: Big B movie caught in legal row [India]

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."

WIPO for private-public role to fight software piracy in India

The World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a specialised agency of UN, has said that the best solution to stop the software piracy in India, which has reportedly led to a loss of about two billion dollars in revenue last year, is public-private coordination.

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.
A study by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international association representing the global software industry, in May showed that computer software piracy rates in India registered huge monetary losses in 2007.

Talks But No Breakthroughs Yet On IP Issues For Ministers At WTO [International]

Intellectual property issues have been a topic of debate at the World Trade Organization ministerial negotiations since Friday and while there have been no changes in positions there has been some talk of looking for compromises, according to sources attending the event. Ministers from some IP-proponent countries raised the issues as critical to the heads of delegation meeting on Monday, the first day of the mini-ministerial in Geneva, while opponents held a meeting of like-minded countries reinforcing their position against the inclusion of IP issues in the talks, sources said.

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.
The focus in the next few days is expected to be squarely on the issues of agriculture and non-agricultural market access (NAMA) before IP issues become critical, if at all, according to several sources. But the outcome of the mini-ministerial (about 40 of the WTO’s 153 members) will be tied to addressing demands from the European Union, Switzerland, India, Brazil and others on issues related to intellectual property and trade.
The IP issues are: the creation of a mandated register on geographical indications - product names associated with a place and characteristics - for wines and spirits; extension to other products of the higher-level GI protections currently enjoyed by wines and spirits; and an amendment to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) to require the disclosure of origin of traditional knowledge and genetic material in patent applications, intended to bring TRIPS in line with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD).
A draft modalities text has been prepared by proponents, claiming support from a majority - over 100 - of WTO members (IPW, WTO/TRIPS, 18 July 2008). The text, TN/C/W/52, is now posted as a document to the WTO website. The opponents’ longstanding position favouring a voluntary register and database for consultation, referred to as the joint proposal, has been submitted again and posted as document TN/IP/W/10/rev.1.
A possible split in the IP issues may have been suggested by Lamy, according to sources. It generally has been the view that the GI register and the CBD amendment might have more middle ground for negotiating, while the GI extension might be more two-dimensional, sources said.
But such a split would not be acceptable to IP proponents, an official from a proponent country said. And the opponents’ meeting on Monday, which included countries such as Australia, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, New Zealand and the United States, reconfirmed the view that none of these issues should be discussed this week, according to a participant.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cybersquatting: Don’t let your IP slip through the net

Cybersquatting is the practice of registering domain names incorporating trade marks of third party companies and then trying to sell the domain name back (for a handsome profit) to the trade mark proprietor. It's not going away - it's growing and it's a huge problem for trade mark proprietors.

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 increase can be attributed to:
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.
There are a number of steps that companies can take to combat cybersquatting, the most important of which is to develop a domain name registration and conflict policy.
Such a policy would clearly identify relevant criteria to determine which domain names should be registered, whose responsibility it is to administer them and in which countries they should be registered.
As a general rule, companies should ensure that companies register their trade marks and trading names in the countries in which they trade, thereby preventing third parties from launching a website to sell competing goods and services under a domain name identical to a company's trade marks and trading names.
Not only should a company continually ensure that its most important trade marks and trading names are registered as domain names, but it should continually monitor what domain names have been registered that incorporate its trade marks and trading names.
In short, companies must monitor the domain name space to check what domain names have been registered that might incorporate their trade marks and domain names.

Internet domains to open up, prepare for .whatever [International]

"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.

Aslan et al take on Edinburgh couple for [UK]

A major test case on internet names is due to be resolved – with the couple who bought 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

Artists' Resale Right in the News [United Kingdom]

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.

Angiotech win boosts firms looking for patent protection in UK [Patent Law]

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

India's first IP auction symposium held [India]

CPA, the world's top intellectual property (IP) management specialist and the leading provider of outsourced legal support services, in conjunction with Ocean Tomo, hosted India's first ever "Live Intellectual Property Auction - Asian Simulcast and Symposium" in Bangalore, recently.

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.
Bhaskar Bagchi, Country Head, CPA, India, said, "The Simulcast and Symposium gave us a fantastic opportunity to showcase the importance of making IP a readily usable business asset and provided us with a platform to pull together organisations and thought leaders to think about the future of IP. Working hand-in-hand with Ocean Tomo to deliver such a momentous event further validates our commitment to help corporations carefully manage, maximize and understand their patent portfolio."
The symposium attracted participants from academia, government, large corporations and SMEs and also featured prominent speakers and senior IP professionals addressing the importance of India as a global player in the IP marketplace.
Dipanjan Nag, director, Ocean Tomo, said, "This is the first time that we have organised such an event in India and the support has been overwhelming. Our associations with bodies and organizations such as the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), Department of Information Technology and CPA will help us reach our goals of introducing a forum for facilitating the open and public exchange of Intellectual Property."

Indian tech firms eye semi IP business [India]

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.

Big retailers at loggerheads with MNCs over brands [India]

serious conflict is brewing between Indian retailers and multinationals over imports of global brands. To stay afloat in the dog-eat-dog world of retail, local retailers have reached arrangements with overseas players to bring in some international brands, rattling many MNCs who manufacture or market these products locally. In some cases, these brands have not yet been introduced in India. Several major MNCs with a long presence in India are invoking the Intellectual Property Rights (imported goods) Enforcement Rules 2007 to stop retailers from importing foreign brands. Hindustan Unilever, L’Oreal, Lancome Perfumes, Oakley Inc, Nivea and Mico have already registered several brands with the Customs department. Sources said other MNCs are expected to follow suit. Market circles perceive this as a move to prevent Indian retailers from getting first access to these brands. Some of the retailers are debating plans to legally contest the move, since they possess a free sale certificate from the source of import. Retailers like Big Bazaar & Food Bazaar, Reliance Retail, Spencer’s and Sankalp Retail (MyDollarStore), among others, have begun importing sizeable consignments of leading consumer brands and their variants for better fill rates, product variety and higher margins.
However, the multinationals are not amused, and claim that it leads to loss of business opportunity, unfair competition and product cannibalisation. The fundamental issue here, according to analysts, is that the Indian arms of the leading FMCG companies would like to control the way their brands are marketed and sold. They would also like to determine when new products and variants of existing products should be introduced in India. Retailers sourcing directly from abroad disrupt the extent of control the FMCG companies can wield. The legal issue is whether IPR rules can be used to block such imports. The Customs department has the right to confiscate consignments and alert the owner of the IPR — which could be a trademark, design or patent. The 2007 rules are intended to protect IPR owners from violations of intellectual property by way of import of goods.

Virtual bites: Digital piracy and Bollywood [India]

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.
Today, Barjatya is doing a roaring business among the NRI population settled in the US, UK and Canada. Success speaks for Barjatya. Rajshri's blockbuster film Hum Aapke Hain Kaun has been viewed over 500,000 times till date and can be downloaded for $4.99.
The website hosts over 6,000 hours of premium video content, all of which has been licensed from India's leading content owners and can be streamed free, ad-supported and downloaded at a nominal price between $4.99 and $9.99.
Barjatya has also unveiled 90 webisodes and mobisodes, of three minutes each, that will be available for free online streaming and as mobile downloads for Idea subscribers.
Piracy of intellectual property is not new to the media and entertainment sector. However, the scale of the problem is definitely new-fangled. A recent study estimates that the Indian entertainment industry loses $4 billion and more than 800,000 jobs each year because of piracy.
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.
"First with music, and now with movies, as broadband capabilities expand, hundreds of thousands of copies race across the Internet daily, clearly harming producers and legitimate retailers," laments Siddharth Roy Kapur, CEO, UTV Motion Pictures.
In the US, the largest market for both Bollywood and non-Bollywood content, there are about 200,000 Indian millionaires, with some 15 per cent of Silicon Valley start-ups believed to be owned by Indians, according to a report by JPMorgan. UTV, informs Kapur, will look to target the overseas customers first with its digital offering.
Filmed entertainment executives have only to look at the music industry to see the dangers of insufficient action — take digital piracy seriously or lose billions as well as fundamental control of the value chain.
Barjatya probably read the warning signals in 2006. He released Rajshri's film Vivah online back in 2006 expanding his distribution for the 25 million Indians spread across the globe. "Physically reaching so many people is not possible and yet these are affluent NRI households with an appetite for Indian cinema. So, the Internet is the best medium to supply cinema as close to 51 per cent of NRI households have broadband access," mentions Barjatya.
Thanks to broadband penetration, digital theft has become free or costs as much as a writeable CD. Kapur acknowledges and says, "The rising number of user-generated sites like YouTube has made it easier to share videos. We do send notices to websites hosting illegal content and they respond favourably by taking off the content."

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.
UTV is already rethinking its pricing strategy and release schedules for its online consumer by tightening digital distribution and security to control data leaks.
"We are working with technology companies to develop workable online distribution and rights management systems and to create easy-to-use channels at the right price," he says.
Technology can be a big help for the industry. Rising acceptance of peer-to-peer (P2P) networks among youth allows them access to one anothers' hard drives, enabling files to be freely copied or distributed from one computer to another. P2P networks do not use a central server and hence are difficult to track down, disable or prosecute.
For instance, when The Matrix Reloaded was released, pirates used a file-sharing computer programme called BitTorrent that let digital thieves download films for free within three hours of its release.
Rana Gupta, business head, Safenet, explains, "The impact of such incidents on a film's ultimate box-office and DVD performance is hard to gauge, but the longer you can prevent a scenario like this the better the return on investment for a studio."
Earlier this year, Ratatouille, the animated film from Walt Disney's Pixar, made its way online about 10 days before its release. Safenet's MediaSentry services help the studios in infringement management, early leak identification services, and various business intelligence tools to analyse data online.
"MediaSentry enables content producers to track down websites infringing copyrighted data," Gupta says. Simply put, Safenet's proprietary technology gets the digital addresses of those who download illegal files and this information is given to the Internet service providers (ISPs), which can ask the customer to stop.
Legal action has closed some sites that connect users with pirated movies. Motion Picture Association of America won its battle with TorrentSpy, a peer-to-peer site that is now closed. But Pirate Bay, a similar Sweden-based service, is still running. Pirate Bay creators say it is merely a platform and is neither uploading nor downloading proprietary content.
Back in India, Rajshri Media uses digital media rights (DRM) protection to prevent illegitimate duplication of its content, it isn't exactly foolproof. "We are focusing on bridging the demand gap and haven't really invested in protecting content from bootleggers. But we are evaluating various software techniques to make the Internet a more secure medium of distribution," adds Barjatya. It looks like a long way before Barjatya and Kapur can cast a virtual safety net over their digital assets. No one expects to eliminate piracy. But given that a film's opening weekend often accounts for 60 to 70 per cent of its earnings, every day's delay in the availability of pirated copies can make a big financial difference.

Ebay Ordered to Pay Damages for fakes [International]

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

Tech Giants Band Together to Buy and Sell Patents [International]

About eight years ago, Nathan Myhrvold, a former Microsoft exec started Intellectual Ventures, a company that amasses patents that it can then license. Several tech giants, including Nokia, Intel, Apple and Sony, invest money in the holding company’s war chest.

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.
Here’s how it works: The venture, called Allied Security Trust, buys patents that others might use to bring infringement claims against its members. Member companies will pay roughly $250,000 to join the group and will each put about $5 million into escrow with the organization, to go toward future patent purchases. Allied Security Trust will sell the patents they acquire after they’ve granted themselves a nonexclusive license to the underlying technology.

Intellectual Ventures: On the Prowl?

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.
But not everyone’s supportive of the company:
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.”