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
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.”
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“
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 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
Visit the EPO site “VCL – Biotechnology patents” for information about a free webcast coming up in October. They are now taking registrations.
The summary included the following extract:
“Patents for life is an emotive topic – the subject of fierce debate and ethical concerns for over a decade. This area of patent law, more than any other, is subject to caveats, provisos and prohibitions regarding what can be patented. Technologies using proteins, enzymes, genes and stem cells stand to benefit mankind with new medical treatments, but the public, law-makers and patent offices nevertheless insist on strict limits to patent exclusivity.”
This one hour webcast is a taster for longer sit-in workshops taking place in November.
Spotted this news item today in the Guardian today: UK policy makers are struggling to find workable policy solutions that can bridge gaps between the interests of rights holders, consumers, and internet service providers (ISPs).
“Government scraps plan to block illegal filesharing websites”
“A consultation document … said that ministers intend to do more work on what other measures can be pursued to tackle online copyright infringement in an effort to stop widespread music piracy, which is increasingly spreading to television and film…
[Cable recognised] that more needs to be done to crack down on illegal filesharing to protect the copyright holders, but nevertheless backed down on introducing site blocking legislation…”The basic philosophy is we do recognise the need for protection, but it has to be protection that’s proportionate to needs and based on evidence.”
Problems are often connected to the stick approach. As well as legislation to allow the blocking of sites by ISPs there is the use of Digital Rights Management (DRM) software. From TechEye.net, “Vince Cable: You can own your own property”:
“DRM is a means for companies to stop you from copying your own content, mostly due to fears of piracy, but it stops users from legitimately enjoying property that they have legally bought. You know, in shops”
The Guardian article highlighted this problem too, “We can’t say that businesses should embrace technology but say to consumers they can’t use technology for products they have paid for”
TechEye.net said the Digital Economy Act was much criticised, and rushed legislation can come back to haunt. The issue of online copyright infringement is a moving target which needs careful consideration. However, in the meantime rights holders must be frustrated with the amount of time this careful consideration is taking – they are the ones who are losing out financially in the meantime. It seems highly probable that sticks are not going to be enough, not whilst the technology can move faster than the law making. But are carrots enough, especially as building them into a profitable business model remains somewhat elusive?
Quick update on patent reform in the USA from an opinion piece in Business Week: “Let the Patent Office Keep Its Money”
The writer’s point of view is clearly against any kind of fee diversion from the patent office. He says the USPTO’s inability to increase staff to match the increase in patent/trademark applications has led to severe delays. Apparently the Senate doesn’t allow the office to keep all of the fees collected and so:
“…it now takes nearly three years for patent applications to be evaluated. This means that high-tech companies must make investment decisions without knowing for several years if their intellectual property will be protected. It’s not surprising that this uncertainty is making some of them reluctant to invest in new products and services.”
We have frequently blogged news about calls for reform to the system in the US. There might not be consensus on exactly which reforms should be implemented, but there plenty of voices agreeing that something needs to be done to improve the current system.
(thanks to Peter Bloch for sending me this link)