Lexology: Rajiv P. Patel recently authored a relevant piece covering a litany of IP troubles that harangue startups like the proverbial plague of locusts and offers in its contents the solution to a number of these common sticking points. In Seven sins — intellectual property mistakes start-up technology companies should avoid, Patel offers this excellent problem/solution pairing for the budding startup:
7. Not investing sufficient resources to secure intellectual property protection
Many companies find that they are invigorated for the initial exercise of pursuing an intellectual property strategy. However, as time continues on the excitation wears off. Responding to inquiries or conducting follow up on intellectual property issues takes a back seat to other matters and may also be completely ignored. Over time this causes numerous problems that include blown budgets, potential loss of securing intellectual property rights, and missed opportunities to further develop an intellectual property portfolio.
TIP: Have someone within the company take the lead as being the intellectual property interface with intellectual property counsel. Ideally, the person should have an interest in intellectual property (although need not be a specialist), a solid understanding of the business and industry that the company is in and/or planning to be in, and the authority from management to make decisions. A person having this diverse background and empowerment will help ensure that intellectual property decisions are made in a proper business context and in an efficient manner, thereby providing the company with potentially greatest value.
The transition from short-term, CYA-style intellectual property protection to a more mature and visionary company policy is tricky, but Patel’s tip can certainly help find a candidate from within to take over the role of IP minder. There are 6 other items of potential interest to the constant reader, along with their accompanying suggested fixes, in Patel’s entire piece reachable at the link above.
TechDirt.com: The famous statue of Jesus overlooking Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is the subject of a recent lawsuit and Mike Masnick has all the related details in his timely piece, Brazil’s Catholic Church Sues Columbia Pictures For Destroying Jesus Statue In 2012… In Violation Of Its Copyright. He writes:
…[T]he Catholic Church of Brazil is suing Columbia Pictures, claiming copyright infringement in last year’s blockbuster 2012, because the movie depicts a famous statue of Jesus being destroyed. Brazil allows copyright on sculptures for life, plus seventy years, and the guy who made the statue (now a huge tourist attraction in Rio) died in 1961, meaning that the statue is still under copyright — and the archdiocese claims to hold the copyright. It apparently turned down Columbia Pictures request to use it in the movie 2012 because the people there didn’t like the idea of seeing the statue destroyed.
Even better than the church and studio’s promise to find an amicable ending to this suit, if only it includes an apology from “the movie studio to admit it ‘meant no offense,'” is the very lively comment section that follows. Learn a little about international intellectual property law differences and get a laugh or two from the hellish flame war developing just below by reading the rest of Masnick’s short, but worthy, blog entry.
The 271 Patent Blog: Peter Zura’s coverage of a trading card patent showdown can be found in his related article, Judge Rader Accuses CAFC Panel of “Bias Against Non-Technical Arts”.
martindale: Eugene I. Low and Kenny K. S. Wong of the firm Mayer Brown JSM in Hong Kong provide a current reckoning of China’s intellectual property laws in their timely piece, Intellectual Property Law in the People’s Republic of China: An Update. In it, they clarify how China’s laws, when carefully explained and well understood, can help foreign businesses compete in what has been often seen as an insider-only system where the deck is stacked in favor of the local applicant. Here’s one helpful snippet telling the tale of changes to China’s “well-known trademark” legislation:
…[T]he Supreme People’s Court of China issued a judicial opinion in May 2009 offering guidance on a number of questions concerning well-known trademarks:
•The circumstances under which a court may or may not decide if a mark is “well-known” are defined. For instance, the court may determine if a mark is well-known in a trademark infringement or unfair competition claim that involves the mark’s identity or similarity relative to an enterprise name. On the other hand, if a trademark infringement or an unfair competition claim fails for want of some other statutory criteria, the court may not make a determination.
•Factors to be taken into account when considering whether a trademark is well-known in China include the mark’s fame and history of use, the market share of goods bearing the mark, past recognitions, and the extent and geographical scope of associated advertising activities. Supporting evidence in the form of industry rankings, market surveys, valuation reports and the like are recognized as appropriate considerations by the court.
•The Court found that “confusion” relative to trademark infringement occurs when the public may not recognize that products bearing a well-known trademark and a mark under complaint come from the same source. Similarly, confusion exists when the public may not understand that a license, association or other like agreement has been arranged between respective traders.
Also covered in Low and Wong’s piece are Chinese patent and trade secret laws. As China rises in global prominence, knowledge of the inner workings of the country’s IP rules could give your firm an upper hand in competing with other interested foreign entities hoping to capitalize on a newly-developing middle class looking for stuff and services to consume.
Bonus IP piece o’ the day: Did You Say “Intellectual Property”? It’s a Seductive Mirage by Richard M. Stallman at GNU.org.