Taylor Swift (Screengrab)

Sony/ATV considers dumping big Licensing firms

Sony/ATV, market leader in music publishing has indicated that it may steer clear of licensing firms like ASCAP and BMI and negotiate directly with services such as Pandora, Spotify and Youtube for licenses to stream music. The move is expected to boost the earnings of top recording artists like Taylor Swift and leading songwriters who get paid for their work from digital royalties. Sony/ ATV is hinting at a plan to split from these licensing firms by the end of this year. CEO, Martin Bandier, had discussed the plan to dump Ascap and BMI with the songwriters in as early as July, 2014.

The second largest music publishing company, Universal Group Music Publishing, is also keen on entering into direct negotiations over digital rights. However, sources close to the company say that it is planning to wait out Sony/ATV’s appeals.

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Weekly Warm up with Sinapse!

This time last week on Sinapse, here is all that happened, in a nutshell.

On October 13, 2014, we saw:

Invention that revolutionized the industrial revolution!

…The story of the invention of steam engine, this invention that proved to be a huge development in the industrial revolution, enlightened us that James Watt may not have been the first one to invent it but definitely was the first one to patent it!

Finally, the ice melts between Microsoft and Samsung!

…Samsung and Microsoft signed a cross license agreement for the benefit of both. When Samsung learnt about Microsoft taking over Nokia, a rift was triggered between Samsung and Microsoft.

Patenting – the Google way

…Google has always amused consumers with its mind blowing inventions. It now has numerous patents under its name and that doesn’t stop them there. Google is dipping its hand into the automotive industry! Google is now the 4th in line for holding the most number of patents.

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Converse sues biggies for infringing Chuck Taylor Sneaker TM

Here is an update on a recent Trademark Infringement case. Shoemaker, Converse, is suing big names including Wal-Mart and Ralph Lauren for allegedly selling imitations of its 100-year-old famous Chuck Taylor Sneakers. Converse is claiming, under its registered trademark rights, the distinctive shoe design, a design that has been called an “American Icon”. Key elements protected by Converse’s trademark include the toe cap of the shoe, and the pattern of black stripes that appear on the mid sole of the shoe. Converse claims that these elements have been ripped off by the companies they are now suing.

Apart from suing these companies for infringement, Converse, a subsidiary of Nike, also wants the International Trade Commission (ITC) to ban sales of the imported replicas. Therefore, Converse has filed a separate complaint with ITC, with the aim of preventing shoes that infringe their trademark from being imported into USA.

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Bi-lateral IP Considerations between India & the US

After Narendra Modi met with US President, Barack Obama last month, during Modi’s visit to the US, the leaders released a joint statement enumerating areas for bilateral collaboration including Intellectual Property.

A look at the current state of IP laws in India will show that -

India’s current IP laws are very real disincentives unduly limiting its capacity to commercialize new inventions and enjoy access to innovations from other parts of the world.

What kind of change in the IP laws could help both countries?

Both Governments have committed to establishing an annual IP Working Group as a core element of the bilateral trade policy forum. The US industry widely welcomed this statement, since a bilateral dialogue on IP will be an important part of optimizing the US-India trade relationship.

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UMich TTO records exceptional year; Receives US$ 18.5M from Licensing Agreements

The Technology Transfer Office (TTO) of the University of Michigan (UMich) has witnessed a record-breaking year in terms of innovations, research discoveries, licensing agreements and start-ups. The UMich TTO was established in order to effectively transfer research discoveries to the market so as to generate benefits for the university, encourage licensing and support deployment with existing businesses and newly-formed UMich start-ups.

With a recorded US$ 1.3 billion annual research expenditure in 2013, UMich tops the list of leading research universities in the US. Licensing revenue for the university soared 29%, up to US$ 18.5 million this year from US$ 14.4 million last year. This will provide the university with additional funds for reinvestment into research and innovation. The university registered 439 inventions during fiscal year 2014, up from the 421 recorded last year. The TTO recorded 148 agreements to in-house technology and 132 patents, up from 108 agreements and 128 patents last year.

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Patent trends related to Software / IT inventions in India

With every invention, comes the responsibility to patent it. This also applies to inventions made in the software industry. When software is invented, the first step is to file for a patent, then comes the associated fee to be paid according to the invention made. It is then checked by a search authority and classified under computer related patent applications.

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SpaceX vs. Blue Origin – A Race to the Launch

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation aka SpaceX is a private aerospace firm based out of California, specializing in space transport services. SpaceX was founded in the year 2002 by Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla Motors. SpaceX was the first private aerospace firm to launch a spacecraft (Dragon Capsule), through its own rocket, to the International Space Station for NASA’s commercial cargo transport program. It has also received a contract from NASA for developing a spacecraft for launching astronauts to the ISS as a part of NASA’s commercial crew development program since NASA has grounded its space shuttle programs (last being the mission STS-135 flown by space shuttle Atlantis in July, 2011) owing to its high risk and costs. NASA is currently relying on Russia’s Soyuz rocket module for transporting astronauts.

Blue Origin is a private aerospace firm based out of Washington, specializing in sub orbital space flight systems. Blue Origin was founded in the year 2000 by Jeff Bezos, the founder of the Amazon.com. The company has developed the New Shepard spacecraft for its sub orbital space flight programs and has received a contract from the firm United Launch Alliance for delivering rocket engines.

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Part IV: Descriptive Marks – Can they be protected?

In the final part of this series, we shall conclude the discussion on descriptive marks with an examination of the Indian position on the protection of these marks. Section 9 of the Trademark Act, 1999 which lays down absolute grounds for refusal of registration of trademarks, clearly states that trademarks which consist exclusively of marks or indications, which may serve in trade to designate the kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, values, geographical origin or the time of production of the goods or rendering of the service or other characteristics of the goods or service shall not be registered. This provision applies to marks that are both descriptive and non-distinctive in relation to the goods or services for which protection is sought. While analyzing a mark, one has to look at the word, not in its strict grammatical significance, but as it would represent itself to the public at large who are to look at it and form an opinion of what it connotes, as observed in Keystone Knitting Mills Ltd.’s TM [(1928) 45 RPC 193].

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Revised Draft Guidelines show prejudice w.r.t. Pharmaceutical Patents

The Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks published comments received from the stakeholders on the ‘Revised draft guidelines for examination of patent applications in the field of Pharmaceuticals’ on September 11, 2014. The last date for submitting any responses or suggestions was September 5, 2014. A total of 33 comments were received by the Patent Office including from patent access groups, health care, industry lobbies, law firms etc. from across the world.

Though the revised draft guidelines drew a mixed response, many of the international organizations raised the concern of discriminating pharmaceutical patenting from other fields of technology, which could in turn discourage innovation. The comments from Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and US-India Business Council (USIBC) highlighted that when the draft guidelines recognize good patents essential for promoting innovation and technological development in the country and quality, consistency and uniformity of examination and grant of patents as the top priorities, it is to be noted that these apply to all fields of technology and not only to the pharmaceutical field.

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