The Providence Journal: America is not alone in its struggle to protect domestic intellectual property rights although with all the facts and figures of hundreds of billions of dollars lost to product forgery and music pirates it might sometimes seem that way. In his recent opinion piece, Intellectual-property theft in Latin America, James Cooper explores the difficulties facing our neighbors to the south that are keeping countries like Brazil from realizing the financial gains that usually accompany tougher IPR laws. Cooper writes of South America’s growing counterfeiting woes:

Brazil, the economic and political powerhouse in South America, is also losing out to this growing global menace. According to the International Federation of Phonographic Industries, music sales in Brazil fell more than 40 percent between 2005 and 2009, with a disastrous impact on investment in local repertoire.

And then this thought:

Not only the music industry in Brazil has suffered at the hands of pirates. Brazil has fallen prey to the production and distribution of fake clothing fashions, alcohol and other beverages, pharmaceuticals, DVDs and health and beauty aids, many of them Brazilian-originated goods.

The ties of copy-cat products to less seemly elements are highly evident in South America with organized crime and terrorist groups taking advantage of lax enforcement of IP laws. Cooper also points out that it’s not just businesses that stand to lose their very valuable intellectual assets if the wholesale theft of homegrown innovations continue.

The respective traditional knowledge of Latin America’s first nations — from rain-forest-based medicines to ancient crops for cultivation — have all been poached in the past by multinational corporations that register patents for their own financial statements.

 Bad news, it would seem, for Brazil’s local artists and knowledge holders. Maybe with some US assistance dollars, South America could more successfully tackle a tough problem and help artists and thinkers profit from their hard work. Send in the IP stormtroopers!

CNet News – Media Maverick: In his recent speech before a group of import-export bankers (already we’re off to a bad start), President Barack Obama assured the public that copyright owners and content creators are his first priority when it comes to his administration’s intellectual property policy. Greg Sandoval’s related piece entitled Obama to ‘aggressively protect’ intellectual property, explains a bit more about what the President said in his almost half-hour long oration. First some words from the President:

“We’re going to aggressively protect our intellectual property,” Obama said. “Our single greatest asset is the innovation and the ingenuity and creativity of the American people…It is essential to our prosperity and it will only become more so in this century. But it’s only a competitive advantage if our companies know that someone else can’t just steal that idea and duplicate it with cheaper inputs and labor.”

“There’s nothing wrong with other people using our technologies, we welcome it,” Obama said. “We just want to make sure that it’s licensed and that American businesses are getting paid appropriately. That’s why the (U.S. Trade Representative) is using the full arsenal of tools available to crack down on practices that blatantly harm our businesses, and that includes negotiating proper protections and enforcing our existing agreements, and moving forward on new agreements, including the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).”

Sandoval helps parse what this means in plainer English for the gentle, and constant reader.

This is believed to be one of the first times Obama has publicly come out in support of ACTA, the controversial proposed trade agreement that would set standards for protecting intellectual property. Some of those that are said to be participating are Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Mexico, and the United States.

Exactly what ACTA is proposing is vague and representatives have kept their negotiations mostly closed to the public. But among some copyright reformists the fear is that ACTA will call for Internet service providers to boot accused illegal file sharers from their networks.

And, wouldn’t you know it, the European Union parliament soundly rejected the contents of ACTA for many reasons, among them, the secretive meetings that decided the content of the proposed legislation and the lack of transparency for its member state citizens to see the actual wording of this sweeping piece of international policy. Be sure to read the rest of Sandoval’s piece for more on President Obama’s IP speech and global reactions to US IPR policy.

Patent A piece of crafty Senatorial legislation is afoot in response to the latest iteration of the patent reform efforts and Stephen Albainy-Jenei has all the straight poop on this increasingly stinky batch of brown malarkey pies. From Small Business Patent Data Collection Act of 2010 we gather details on the proposed bill by Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) that aims to study the impact the Patent Reform Act of 2010 will have on smaller businesses.

Sen. Landrieu has introduced The Small Business Patent Data Collection Act of 2010 after concerns about how the Senate patent reform bill will impact small businesses.  Small businesses represent 99.7 percent of all employers, employing 1/2 of the U.S. labor force.

The bill directs the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy to conduct a study in consultation with the U.S. PTO to analyze how changes to the current system will impact the ability of small businesses to obtain patents, whether the change would create barriers, and how it will impact the costs and benefits to small businesses overall.

Nothing like a little additional legislation to study the impact another piece of legislation might or might not have on a constituent group to slow the wheels of legal progress, nu? For a more complete text of the bill and Albainy-Jenei’s additional comments, be sure to read the complete piece at the above link. Rupert Murdoch and son are bemoaning digital, online media asthe poison that is killing their old skool-print and press media empire but Mike Masnick won’t let them spread their brand of anti-Internet, anti-fair usage propaganda without a rebuttal. In his topical piece, James Murdoch Is Very, Very Confused About Copyright Infringement (And So Is His Dad, Rupert), Masnick takes James Murdoch to task for misunderestimating what fair use and copyright infringement is all about. He writes:

James Murdoch’s words immediately call to mind Larry Lessig’s recent talk where he discusses how the current media bosses at companies like Viacom are dinosaurs, with the younger generation waiting in the wings to take over, claiming that they don’t hold these same draconian notions on copyright. Except, in this case, James is the younger generation which is supposed to get this stuff.

Perhaps he should take some notes from his (slightly older) sister Elisabeth, who recently made comments that appear to be the exact opposite of what her brother and father are saying:
“Fans remain the best salesmen of our content, even if that behavior is on the borderline of piracy. Danger of the new world is that we must concede that we’ll lose some control.”
I wonder if James’ “the idea that there’s a new consumer class and you have to be consumer-friendly” line was directed at his big sis. Of course, in that recent NY Mag profile of Rupert, it notes that many people expect Elisabeth to come back into the News Corp. fold at some point (she left to start her own — successful — TV production house).

Ouch! That’s not very nice, Mike, even if it’s quite true. Change or die, Murdoch family: there’s nothing you can do to stop the passage of time or the changes it brings. In other words: Man up and start looking forward instead of looking back at the “good old days” and doing your worst to keep them alive at any cost.

Defecational: For a very excellent look at the value of tradition knowledge, including the very relevant portion of local medicinal wisdom it contains, be sure to read the very thorough Traditional Medicines And Intellectual Property Rights (Ipr) Issues. I recommend reserving a good half hour or so to gloss through the piece and broaden your narrow IP horizons with an India-centric piece that has wide-ranging applicaion. Here’s a snippet to get you started:

Many Corporate establishments pass off “Traditional Knowledge” as if it is an invention made by them and many a times it is easy for them to get through the formalities since such knowledge is not sufficiently codified and made available to the Examiner in a searchable database. In the recent past, CSIR India has been engaged with creating a traditional knowledge digital library (TKDL), a database that will serve as “prior art” against any move to register patents based on Traditional Knowledge. ‘Prior art’ is meant to encompass everything that has been published, presented or otherwise disclosed to the public on the date of patent (the prior art includes documents in foreign languages disclosed in any format in any country of the world).

The rest, as they say, is up to you. Click on, oh brave one!

Bonus IP piece o’ the day: Show Me the IP! Venture Capital Success Based on Patents by Gene Quinn at