In the technology industry, intellectual property rights can be lucrative. This is evident from the success of the biggest tech companies, and from how often they face lawsuits from patent assertion entities. It's recently been reported that one of the giants will be selling its mobile patent portfolio.
According to Reuters, patent licensing company WiLAN is considering selling itself. The company holds more than 3,000 patents, and its business relies largely on negotiating licensing agreements with other companies whose products rely in some way on the patents WiLAN owns. Recently, WiLAN's activities have been covered extensively in the media, and in this space. The company filed lawsuits against many major technology companies, including Apple, for intellectual property infringement. While many companies chose to settle with WiLAN, it lost its suit against Apple. This caused WiLAN's stock to drop by 23 percent.
The Motion Picture Association of America recently submitted a list to the U.S. Trade Representative of the virtual and physical destinations that enable the most copyright infringement. The industry organization is concerned that there are too many active websites willfully enabling intellectual property infringement.
Christy Wyskiel, the new Senior Adviser to the President for Enterprise Development at Johns Hopkins University, was recently interviewed by The Baltimore Business Journal about her position and the interaction between research and enterprise. She has experience working as an investor in early stage startups, as well as supporting business and management advice to such companies.
According to Info World, the Innovation Act of 2013 has bipartisan support, and many in the tech industry are excited about the impending vote on it in Congress. Others have concerns, however. Here are some features of the bill that are causing excitement in the intellectual property world:
In the modern global economy, intellectual property rights are a potential source of revenue for businesses all over the world. They are often more valuable to companies than physical assets integrated throughout operations. With that said, the UN Commission on International Trade Law and the World Intellectual Property Organization have been working since 2003 to modernize procedures around using intellectual property as a security for business financing, according to Managing Intellectual Property.
Creative Commons, a nonprofit organization that has provided simple licenses to people for many types of work since 2001, recently issued a statement outlining its position on copyright law. The easy-to-understand system has seen success online, where Creative Commons licenses can be found attached to materials as diverse as single songs and full-fledged software applications. Some argue that its success means copyright law functions perfectly well in the digital age and needs no changes. However, Creative Commons is offering an alternative to traditional copyright law, which is the source of its success.
According to the National Law Review, 50 to 80 percent of all intellectual property theft currently originates in China. It's estimated that U.S. firms operating in China have lost $48.2 billion in sales, royalties and licensing fees as a result of infringement within their host country.
As Twitter prepares to open itself to public investors, there are several factors giving financial analysts pause. One of these is Twitter's approach to intellectual property - the company owns a total of just nine patents. In contrast to Twitter, Facebook had 774 patents prior to its own IPO. Twitter's corporate philosophy is to allow developers and designers to retain more comprehensive control of their creations.
The RIAA, MPAA and a number of internet services providers are members of the Center for Copyright Information. This is an initiative that attempts to educate consumers about appropriate means to enjoy entertainment material online while preserving the intellectual property rights of content producers. According to CCI's most recent tax filing - available for public inspection - the membership dues from content publication organizations and internet service providers totaled nearly $2 million for 2011.
A small but vocal number of entrepreneurs have asserted they do not need to patent their ideas and inventions, contending that ideas are universal and can't really be registered as any one person's property. However, as Entrepreneur magazine points out, despite the universal nature of ideas, their research, development and creation are the work of individuals.
Recent research by Jessika Trancik, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Luis Bettencourt, of the Santa Fe Institute, focused on the rate of global patenting activity surrounding renewable energy technologies. The two researchers compiled a database of 73,000 patents from more than 100 countries registered between 1970 and 2009.
The American Association of University Professors issued a report on faculty intellectual property rights after Stanford v. Roche, a landmark case from 2011. In the decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found the inventor owns the title of a patent first, regardless of contractual obligations to assign these rights to a third party.
The University of Michigan reported 421 new inventions in fiscal year 2013. University of Michigan's Tech Transfer program reported 108 licenses and options with existing and new businesses in the same period of time. According to the University of Michigan News Service, interest in technology transfers among faculty is on the rise.
Companies that neglect to manage their intellectual property thoroughly can expect to face many consequences. According to InfoWorld, each factor can be devastating to a business, both on their own and in combination.
Innovatio IP Ventures filed several lawsuits against dozens of entities in recent years, alleging infringement upon patents that it claimed were essential to the 802.11 Wi-Fi standard. Prior to these lawsuits, Innovatio sought royalties from those same listed defendants, reportedly in the amount of $2,500 to $3,000 from each party named.
U.S. patent law dictates that fees be awarded to the defendant in patent suits "in exceptional cases." The U.S. Supreme Court will hear cases that may help define such exceptions more precisely, leading to a standardized procedure for handling fee awards in patent suits.
The Coalition Against Domain Name Abuse (CADNA) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus (BBB) launched a public education campaign last month to raise awareness regarding new generic top-level domains (gTLDs). This Internet initiative comes at an important time as gTLD registration rates are expected to increase 2,500 percent over the next year.