Friday, January 30, 2009

Intellectual Property is the Future Strength for the US Economy

Intellectual Property Experts Mark Blaxill and Ralph Echardt in the their forthcoming Book, The Invisible Edge: Taking Your Strategy to the Next Level Using Intellectual Property are of the opinion that the strength of any country's economy is its innovation and Intellectual Property Reserves. 

They argue that the strength of US is its IP reserves and Innocation. According to them the US is the Saudi Arabia of IP reserves as it hold 33 percent of the world's patent reserves. 

The Intellectual Property Sector is providing a huge trade surplus to the trade accounts of the Beleaguered US Economy. The IP sector alone contributed more than US$ 60 billion in the year 2007. 

The Obama Administration should take steps to protect the plethora of IP which it possesses and not make the mistakes which it made in the past by forcing companies to open their patent portfolios. This move was taken in order to promote 'Competition'. Nearly 50,000 patents were given off, plunging many huge american businesses into a 'competitive crisis'. 

The reforms in the Patent sector these days risk another massive give away of American knowledge and innovation for free, when the country needs it badly for its economic survival.

Only time will tell how the new Obama Administration would deal with this issue and help protect the Knowledge which America has created over a long period of time.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

India to fight it out in WTO against EU over Patent Issues

India is considering to drag the European Union to WTO over the long standing dispute regarding Patents. India's 12 billion dollar pharmaceutical industry exports a major chunk of its produce to various western countries. But it always faces FLAK from the large MNCs which accuse the Indian pharma industry of patent infringement.

It is matter of great concern for the Commerce ministry as well as for the pharma industry which faces huge challenges of providing cheap drugs to its domestic as well as International markets.

US removes TAIWAN from the Special 301 list

The United States very recently removed Taiwan from the list of countries failing to protect Intellectual Property Rights. This move by the US proves that Taiwan has done alot to stamp out violation of IPRs. The decision to remove Taiwan from the list came on Friday the 16th of January 2009, when the US Trade Representative's office (USTR) announced that it was removing Taiwan from its watch list, which warns countries of sanctions if they fail to protect IPRs.

The measures taken by the Taiwanese government to protect IPRs include:
  • establishment of a special intellectual property court,
  • further efforts to improve implementation of the action plan for protection on school campuses,
  • progress toward passage of amendments to the copyright law

The US is keeping a close watch on Taiwan as its parliament plans to enact a pending legislation to fight internet piracy, and tightening customs and border checks against import and export of pirated products.

This is just a small step taken by Taiwan to fight the menace of piracy, but in the long run it has to do a lot more to make sure that the world does not look at it as a 'Haven for Pirates'.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Thanjavur Dolls acquire GI Status [India]

The dancing dolls (thalai aatti bommai) of Thanjavur can now boast of one more feature the Geographical Indication (GI) mark. The doll has been included in the Government of India's GI Registry, a statutory recognition of the toy's geographical origin to the Thanjavur region. From now on, the term dancing doll of Thanjavur' would refer only to the authentic Raja-Rani' pair, which stand on a curved pedestal.
The GI-registered dolls, which are believed to have come to Thanjavur during King Sarafoji's regime in the early 19th century, are unique as they remain vertical and upright always, thanks to a clay tablet placed inside the round curved pedestal.
Among the other products registered with the GI registry are Darjeeling tea, Chanderi saree, Kancheepuram silk, Mysore sandal soap, Solapur terry towel and Kangra tea. Under the Geographical Indication of Goods (registration and protection) Act, 1999, agricultural, natural or manufactured goods originating or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, are registrable as geographical indications. This gives to the registered proprietor and its authorised users the legal right to the exclusive use of the GI and also the right to obtain relief in case of its infringement. It also ensures that only genuine products are marketed. Putting the Thanjavur dolls under GI protection is no mean achievement as it is common for the entire world. Just like trademarks, the GI mark too are source-identifiers. Besides ensuring monopoly for the association or group the Thanjavur Chamber of Commerce in this case the GI mark shields a product from bogus claims and poor quality. In the case of the Dancing Dolls, the GI registry has taken note of the unique production method involving plaster of Paris, papier mache, wood pulp and sago. It recognized the raja-rani' motif of the doll tradition and attributed the dolls to the skills of artisans in and around Thanjavur.
Now that it has been registered, artisans cand register themselves with the Chamber to become GI-recognised craftsmen. The membership will also entail inspection by internal and external experts, who are mandated to audit the quality of the dolls in keeping with the culturally rich tradition of Thanjavur.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Companies [Appontment and Qualifications of Secretary] Amendment Rules, 2009 [India]

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has vide notification dated January 5, 2009 [please refer to the text below] has raised the limit of paid up share capital for compulsory appointment of a company secretary (under wholetime employment) in an Indian company, from Rs. 2 crores to Rs. 5 crores.

This notification shall come into force from the 15th day of March, 2009.

Companies [Appointment and Qualifications of Secretary] Amendment Rules, 2009 - Amendment in Rule 3

NOTIFICATION NO. G.S.R. 11 (E), DATED 5-1-2009
In exercise of the powers conferred by clauses (a) and (b) of sub-section (1) of section 642 read with clause (45) of section 2 and section 383A of the Companies Act, 1956 (1 of 1956), the Central Government hereby makes the following rules further to amend the Companies (Appointment and Qualifications of Secretary) Rules, 1988, namely :—

1. (1) These rules may be called the Companies (Appointment and Qualifications of Secretary) Amendment Rules, 2009.

(2) They shall come into force from the 15th day of March, 2009.

2. In the Companies (Appointment and Qualifications) of Secretary) Rules, 1988, in rule 2,
(i) in sub-rule (1) and in the proviso to sub-rule (4), for the words "rupees two crores" the following words shall be substituted, namely:—
"five crore rupees";
(ii) in sub-rule (3), the second and third proviso shall be omitted;
(iii) after sub-rule (3), the following sub-rule shall be inserted, namely:—

"(3A) A company having a paid up share capital of two crore rupees or more but less than five crore rupees may appoint any individual who possesses the qualification of membership of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India constituted under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 (56 of 1980), as a whole-time secretary to perform the duties of a secretary under the Companies Act, 1956:

Provided that where a company has appointed under sub-rule (3) or this sub-rule, a whole-time company secretary, possessing the qualification of membership of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India, such a company is not required to obtain a certificate from a secretary in whole-time practice under rule 3 of the Companies (Compliance Certificate) Rules, 2001."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Raju, Satyam Directors could face a ten-year jail term [India]

A team of officials from market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) will arrive in Hyderabad on Thursday to begin a probe amid speculation that police might arrest Mr. Raju, but nobody knows his whereabouts. Mr. Raju became incommunicado after sending a letter to the Satyam Board of Directors on Wednesday morning. There was utter confusion after a TV channel reported that he had left either for the US or Dubai.

Mr. Raju is believed to have met nobody in the last two days. It is also possible that he might have handed over his letter to company officials before becoming incommunicado.
Some of the more serious penalties that Raju and others are likely to face under various laws are:
* Section 23 of the securities contract regulation Act 1956, that imposes a penalty of imprisonment up to 10 years and fine up to Rs 25 crore. The adjudicating officer of Sebi is empowered to award such punishment to directors and management executives for violating the listing agreement by making false and inaccurate disclosures in the company's quarterly and annual results. The penalty is severe because of the enormous damage that the investors are liable to suffer on account of false disclosures.
* Section 24 of the Sebi Act 1992 that imposes a penalty of imprisonment up to one year for infringement of any provisions of the law or rules and regulations, including fraudulent and unfair trade practices (FUTP).
* Section 477-A of the Indian Penal Code, that imposes a penalty of imprisonment up to seven years. The police may on their own or on the recommendation of the serious fraud investigation office (SFIO) invoke this IPC provision meant to punish those found to have falsified accounts "...willfully and with intent to defraud."
* Section 211 of the Companies Act that imposes a penalty of imprisonment up to six months. The company law board is empowered to punish those who are found to have "willfully" failed to comply with the requirements of law relating to the annual financial statement.

Significantly, the job of the prosecuting agencies has been made easier by the damaging admissions made by Raju in his resignation letter to the board. Having taken responsibility for cooking the Satyam books to the tune of Rs 7,136 crore, it is just as well that Raju said, "I am now prepared to subject myself to the laws of the land and face the consequences thereof." For all his exertions in his resignation letter to save the skin of other directors, they have reason to worry because the Companies Act does not only hold the board to account for any such failure of due diligence, it also makes no distinction in the liability of executive and non-executive or independent directors. The onus is on them to prove the action they had taken to discharge their fiduciary responsibility.

Corporate India, Regulators 'stunned' by Satyam fraud [India]

Terming disclosures of financial wrong-doings at Satyam as an event of 'horrifying magnitude,' the Securities and Exchange Board of India on Wednesday said it would take all steps under the law for which it has started discussions with government and bourses. "We are in touch with Ministry of Corporate Affairs. We are also in discussion with them as to what steps need to be taken from the perspective of power they have under the law and Sebi has under the law," Sebi chairman C B Bhave said.

Sebi was also forwarding the letter written by Satyam's chairman B Ramalinga Raju on his stepping down with the confession that the profits in the company were inflated over the years, leading to wide gap between real and imaginary assets.

Govt to refer Satyam case to Serious Fraud Investigation Office
The government has decided to refer the Satyam case to Serious Fraud Investigation Office, an official of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs said.
All regulators and government agencies will make coordinated efforts to get to the bottom of the Satyam wrongdoings, the official said, adding that the 'company management not been fair to the shareholders'.

Satyam plunges to all-time low
Meanwhile, the Satyam Computer stock nosedived nearly 70 per cent to an all-time low of Rs 58, following the resignation of the company's chairman B Ramalinga Raju and Managing Director B Rama Raju.

Shares of Satyam plunged as much as 67.71 per cent to a low of Rs 58, but was later trading at Rs 73.50, down 58.96 per cent in the afternoon trade on the Bombay Stock Exchange.
The scrip, which had opened at Rs 179.10, plunged within minutes of Satyam chairman and managing director tendering their resignation.

Raju had been under attack over the $1.6-billion acquisition fiasco of firms promoted by his family. The counter saw frantic selling after the announcement and nearly 13 crore (130 million) shares had changed hands on both the bourses within an hour.
Satyam stock holds a 1.56 per cent weight in the 30-share bluechip index Sensex. Following the same, the benchmark index also plunged over 400 points and was trading down nearly 4 per cent at 9,922 points in the noon trade on the BSE.

On the National Stock Exchange, the scrip plunged 55.63 per cent to an all time low of Rs 79.40. It was later trading at Rs 80, down 55.29 per cent in the afternoon trade.
In a regulatory filing, the company said Raju would continue to be the chairman till the board is expanded.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Satyam Chairman Raju resigns, admits to fraud [India]

Satyam Computers founder and chairman Ramalinga Raju had resigned from the Satyam board.
Raju has written a letter to the board giving details of the balance sheet. Balance Sheet has inflated cash balances of Rs 5040 crore and accrued interest of Rs 376 crore is non-existent. Rs 1230 crore was arranged to Satyam and is not reflected in the books.

While Ram Myanpati will act as Interim CEO, Merrill Lynch can be entrusted to explore. As per the revelations, second Quarter numbers were inflated to Rs 2700 crore vs Rs 2112 crore actual numbers. No board member had any knowledge of the real situation of the books. Shares in Satyam Computer shed all gains to turn negative after the embattled Indian outsourcer said its chairman has resigned from the board. Shares were down 16.81 percent at 149 rupees. (11.22 a.m.)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

HC relief for foreign law firms on tax payment [India]

In a significant order, a division bench of the Bombay high court has ruled that foreign law firms, even though working as solicitors for multinational corporations with operations in India, will pay tax only in those countries where they give legal advice and not in India.
The appelant before court was Clifford Chance, a top-notch legal firm from London which acted as solicitors for several multinational corporations interested in four major power projects in India. The clients included big names such as GEC Alsthom Group, and Electricite de France. Clifford Chance told court that it billed its clients on an hourly basis and maintained detailed "time sheets'' that showed whether the legal advice was given in India or abroad.
On that basis, the firm calculated that it had earned a little over Rs 5 crore from its India operations during 1996-97. Ispat Industries was the only Indian firm involved in one of the four power projects. On the contrary, the income tax department said that Clifford Chance had received more than Rs 17 crore in legal fee for acting as advisors on the four power projects and it was immaterial whether the advice was given in India, UK or any other country. It said that the whole income was taxable in India as the projects from which it was derived were in India. However, Salve argued that legal service given by a solicitor from his home country to a client who was overseas could be taxed only in the country of residence of the solicitor. Finally, justice S Radhakrishnan and V C Daga ruled that under statutory provisions, services which are to be taxed must be both "rendered in India'' and "utilized in India'' for them to fall under the income tax bracket. The court held that this was not the case with Clifford Chance's earnings which came from giving legal advice to its clients in other countries, even though the power projects were in India. Thus it said that tax could be levied only on Rs 5 crore that the solicitors had earned by giving legal advice to firms in India.

Friday, January 02, 2009

From Assets to Profits: New Book on Intellectual Property

If intellectual property never comes of age as a mainstream topic for investors and corporate strategists, it won't be Bruce Berman's fault.

As CEO of Brody Berman Associates in New York, a communications and management consulting firm that focuses on innovative businesses and intellectual assets, Berman has been a tireless proponent of the importance of IP and attendant issues. Not coincidentally, he's also quite a networker in the community of IP thinkers and practitioners.
Those two characteristics have enabled Berman to assemble some of the better books on the subject of IP -- including his new offering, From Assets to Profits, which follows Making Innovation Pay (2005) and From Ideas to Assets (2002), all from John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Contributors to the current volume (along with Berman himself) include the heads of IP business at Hewlett-Packard Co. and Goldman Sachs; the former head of IP business at Lucent and IBM Research; and IBM Corp.'s former VP of IP strategy, among others. Each in turn examines a facet of IP. A few highlights:
Berman kicks things off with a chapter on IP investing and the spectrum of people--some controversial, some less so--who do it. "Has today's more contentious, bottom-line approach for managing IP rights improved innovation, patent quality, or increased shareholder value?" he asks. "Probably. But you won't hear most strategic IP owners admitting that."
John A. Squires chief IP counsel for Goldman Sachs & Co., contributes a chapter on IP in financial services. In finance, Squires says, "patents are generally designed for, and deployed primarily by, the founders of the venture as a functional edge for the operational risk that the venture may incur in the future." Squires goes on to show how patent issues figured in the formation and launch of Regulatory DataCorp LLC (RDC), a for-profit database and interdiction software venture now owned by twenty of the world ' s leading financial institutions.
Another interesting chapter is "The Evolving Role of IP in M&A: From deal-breaker to deal-maker." This one was written by Ron Laurie, the veteran silicon valley IP lawyer who wrote the first internet business-method patent, for Priceline's reverse auction. "IP," he writes, "was traditionally viewed in M&A transactions as a possible deal-breaker, effectively an afterthought that IP lawyers attended to. When it came to consummating a transaction, these professionals were much more likely to regard all news as bad news."
Today, Laurie says, IP in M&A is starting to be seen as an important deal facilitator that bankers, private equity capital providers, and others need to understand from the start.
You can find out more about the book (and about Berman) on the Brody Berman website.

Evalueserve Study: India to Emerge as Global Innovation Hub

India will emerge as the next global hub for innovation, according to a study on "R&D Ecosystem in India" conducted by Evalueserve and released by the British High Commission and the Canadian High Commission in India.

India targets to increase its R&D spend from less than 1 percent of GDP to 2 percent by 2012 under the 11th Five-Year Plan. The move will catapult India to the league of developed nations that spend 2.5 percent of their GDP on R&D on an average.

The Indian R&D ecosystem comprises various supporting infrastructure, government departments, research organisations, funding institutions and industry associations. The government is focusing on public-private partnerships, such as knowledge parks and incubator programmes, to promote commercialisation, transfer and diffusion of technology.

Angel investors and venture capitalists also have an important role in the commercialisation process, given the limited availability of funding for early stage companies and innovators. Further, venture capitalists are also providing a lot of late-stage funding. The number of private equity/venture capitalist deals in late-stage funding rose from 33 in 2005 to 104 in 2006, while the number of early stage funding deals rose from 19 in 2005 to 59 in 2006.

That India is becoming increasingly conducive to innovation is evident from the fact that the total number of patents filed in the country has increased significantly. The number of patent applications filed grew at a CAGR of 23.3 percent, from 10,592 in 2001-02 to 24,505 in 2005-06. The growth accelerated after India became Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) compliant in 2005.

Some IPR issues currently faced by India include low awareness on IP protection and longer patenting process. The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) drafted the Public Funded Research and Development (Protection, Utilisation and Regulation of Intellectual Property) Bill, 2007, an indigenous version of the Bayh-dole Act, to address these issues. The new legislation will emphasise education opportunities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and help R&D institutions and scientists to own the intellectual property they create.

Access the complete report at

Evalueserve provides custom research and analytics services to a client base of Global 5000 companies, in the following areas - Financial and Investment Research, Business Research, Market Research, Intellectual Property, Expert Network, Data Analytics and Modelling and Knowledge Technology Services. We currently have 2,475+ professionals in our research centres in India, China, Chile & Romania.