Category Archives: general IP

IP4inno training: free online sessions

The European Commission project IP4inno is offering a series of free Virtual Classroom Lessons (VCLs) during February and March.

These virtual sessions are tasters for training that will take place later in the  year.  More materials are available on their website or by topic below:

Monday 20 February 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 6B – Selling the message: how to convince SMEs that IP matters

Monday 27 February 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 5C – Business strategies for enforcing patents

Monday 5 March 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 6A – IP in the ICT sector

Monday 12 March 14:00 – 15:00 CET
Module 6A – Biotechnology patents

Intangible, invisible and of rapidily growing importance – IP

This week I caught up with an episode of a BBC podcast “Peter Day’s World of Business” that was all about intellectual property.

As you would expect the issue of copyright in the digital economy was discussed at length – to listen visit the link below.

Well worth a listen!

GlobalBiz: Take a Copy: 09 July 11 (Duration: 27 mins)

“Intellectual property sounds an innocuous enough idea, but patents and copyright have recently been stirring up a lot of strife. Peter Day finds out why copyright in particular is such a contentious issue in the Internet age.”

Bacardi and its yeast, a tale of exiled IP?

It’s not often an IP story comes along that reads more like a film script, but here’s one!  It’s the tale of how a yeast strain, one of Bacardi’s biggest assets for its rum production, left the country during Cuba’s Communist nationalisation program in the 60s.  It’s quite a read…

For the full story:
Bacardi, and its yeast, await a return to Cuba

Facebook Community Pages and the use of YOUR IP

Back in August 2010, Facebook launched their “community pages”.  In the spirit of social media and “shared knowledge” these pages are auto generated from content that is available online under a creative commons licence (mainly but not exclusively from Wikipedia entries).

But what if you don’t like what is written on your organisation’s auto generated community page?  From Facebook help centre:

“Can I edit the content on a community page?

No. Community pages display Wikipedia articles about the topics they represent when this information is available, as well as related posts from people on Facebook in real time. At this time, there is no way for you to add your own pictures or edit information on these pages.”

No?  This seems more than a little unfair.  Especially when the pages are often accompanied with official logos and it is not always clear which pages are owner generated, and which are auto generated…  From IPfrontline.com, “Facebook Community Pages Can Jeopardize Trademarks and Brands

“Users can easily be confused between official pages and community pages. For instance, when a user searches for Dr. Pepper using Facebook’s search bar, many “Dr. Pepper” pages pop up. The consumer can’t tell immediately whether it’s a community page, a fan page, or the official page…”

Help is at hand however, even if it’s not so widely publicised.  Download and read the following article: “Brand Owners Can Now Reclaim Facebook Community Pages” for more information on Community Pages, and steps you can take to reclaim your one if you need to.  See also “Have You Claimed Your Facebook Community Page Yet? Here’s How…”  and “How To: Claim Your Facebook Community Page” (Be sure to read the comments too as its not so straight forward.)

The Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP article also says:

“Facebook’s Community Pages are an excellent example of why brand owners should take a proactive approach to social media and have a clear social media brand protection strategy in place. This is not only important for a brand owner to fulfill its duty to police the marketplace but also to ensure that a brand owner has current information about the constantly changing state of social media. There is little doubt that brand owners will continue to see many new developments in the social media space”

For more information on this topic read also the Social Media Examiner article: “Facebook Community Pages: What Your Business Needs to Know

Social media for science; be ready with some IP guidelines

Recent article on SciDevNet encouraging scientists to better utilise social media networks.  “How scientists can reach out with social media” They say:

“The general public has the power to deny your funding or restrict your experiments. It’s important to reach outside your laboratories, offices and field stations to engage with the wider world, to show people that science is essential and that researchers are working hard to help address important issues”

And the article goes on to give some great practical advice about how this can happen.  IP practitioners need to be aware of these efforts, and also be ready to insert IP relevant content into social media guidelines that might be produced.  I have blogged on this subject in the past, see “IP issues in social media networks” – this is an important area that will only grow in relevance.

The FAO have a comprehensive Social Media Policy which anyone can access.  It includes information and advice for their employees about copyrights,  logo use, as well as disclaimer usage, and guidelines about which blogs should be considered “official” and which not, and how that distinction is made.

More and more we will need to think about the usage of these tools and how they are maintained so not to loose any built value, or valuable user names.  Think of a simple example whereby a social media account might be built, and then access lost once the employee who was maintaining it moves on.

Back to the original item.  The advice from SciDevNet is good advice.  Social media noise is a great way to get science noticed and communicated to a broader audience.  Just be aware of the wider implications from an IP perspective, and be ready to act accordingly.

“Food Security Needs Sound IP”: IPRs critical to meet the demands of a growing population

This article in The Scientist “Opinion: Food Security Needs Sound IP”  starts with the all too familiar population projections for the coming years, and the subsequent pressure this will put on agriculture.  It goes on to point out that techniques and technologies will be required to meet this challenge – and that IPRs will need to be improved in order to promote the necessary technology transfer to areas most in need.

“The effective use of research and IPR can help drive delivery of innovative and productivity-increasing technologies crucial to agricultural and economic growth and achieving future needs for food security. The key is to match the proper IPR mechanisms with specific conditions, and to manage them effectively and efficiently to promote innovative research, technology transfer, wealth creation, and overall societal benefit.”

The authors outline some pathways for  supporting “the sensible introduction and diffusion of new agricultural practices and technologies” which include:

  • encouraging enforcement of national laws that comply with TRIPS
  • proactive access to modern biotech (including patent pools and open source licensing)
  • collaboration (including a supportive community of IPR practitioners!)
  • continued building of IP portfolios by national agricultural research institutions.

This is a great opinion piece, looking forward to reading more results from the studies from Washington State University in this area.

Google’s move into hardware – and tech patents, and an update on patent trolls

Google’s announcement that it will buy mobile phone manufacturer Motorola Mobility will turbocharge the proliferation of the Android OS.  But the $12.5 billion deal may be more about IP.  Unlike Apple, IBM – and Motorola, Google does not own a lot of patents.  But the acquisition includes a 17,000+ technology patent portfolio that Google will be able to use both defensively and offensively.

 American Public Media’s technology reporter Steve Henn:

“If you steal someone else’s idea, you can get taken to court and you’re supposed to pay for it. But lots of software developers believe the U.S. patent system — especially when it comes to software — is just broken. It’s a total mess. There are literally thousands of patents issued for the same ideas. You know, for example, just in the last few years, Amazon was awarded a patent for creating social networks…..

….So Google, Apple, Microsoft have all gone out shopping, buying up thousands and thousands of patents. Most analysts believe it’s largely for the purpose of suing each other”

High tech players regularly game the patent system.  So Google will now have substantial leverage (and probably some trump cards) if and when sued by another player for patent infringement. You can read, or listen to, the story “Why Google wants to buy Motorola Mobility.” And make sure to read the comments!

Relevant to this discussion, I added a comment, by way of a “P.S.”, to my recent post on patent trolls.  My concern was that non-operating entities (NPEs) would start to acquire agricultural patents and expose development projects to this kind of “gaming the system”.  I subsequently visited the web site of a leading NPE, ‘Intellectual Ventures’ and discovered that they already have a portfolio of agricultural IP (emphasis added):

“Invention Portfolio: Broad Technology Market Coverage: Agriculture, automotive, communications….”

 Post written by Peter Bloch