Friday, 19 January 2018

IP management and IP strategy in small and medium-sized enterprises – perspectives from the EPO

OxFirst will be presenting a free webinar on one of the most challenging IP issues-- how small and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s) can effectively engage in IP management and strategy. The webinar will take place on January 26th between 3:00 PM- 4:00 PM British Standard Time.

The focus of the program will be on the results of a series of case studies carried out on the subject by the EPO. Twelve SMEs from different countries, operating in different industries and technology sectors and applying different business models, were interviewed about their IP strategies. The resulting case studies illustrate the various ways in which patents can be leveraged to support the development of SMEs in domestic and foreign markets. They also provide detailed information and recommendations on best practices in IP strategy and IP management. The case studies can be downloaded here.

About the Speakers

Professor Yann Ménière joined the European Patent Office as Chief Economist in February 2016. He was previously a Professor of Economics at MINES ParisTech, where he led the Chair on "IP and Markets for Technology". Besides his academic publications, he has prepared policy studies for the European Commission and other public organizations relating to patents. He previously taught at Imperial College, Université Catholique de Louvain and CEIPI.

Pia Björk is Programme Manager at the European Patent Academy. She joined the European Patent Office (EPO) in 1989 as an examiner in the fields of metallurgy and general mechanics. Between 2007 and 2017, she was operational director in the cluster of Pure and Applied Organic Chemistry in directorates dealing with cosmetics and then later pharma (galenics, medical use and biopharmacy). Pia Björk has passed the European Qualifying Examination (EQE), worked in the EQE Committee for the opposition paper and has been involved in basic and advanced training of examiners in search and examination. In January 2018, she joined the European Patent Academy.

To register, follow the instructions here. Oxfirst advises that private email addresses are not recognized.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

KODAK BACK: Plugging Leaks in the Marketplace for Digital Photos

Kodak recently announced the release of KODAKOne and KODAKCoin.  KOKDAKOne is essentially a licensing and tracking platform for digital photographs.  Kodak states:  

Utilizing blockchain technology, the KODAKOne platform provides continual web crawling to monitor and protect the IP of the images registered in the KODAKOne system. Where unlicensed usage of images is detected, the KODAKOne platform can efficiently manage the post-licensing process to reward photographers.

Kodak also states that “KODAKCoin allows participating photographers to take part in a new economy for photography, receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, and sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform.”  We may be moving closer to a system of “pay first use later” instead of a “use first pay later” system with changes in technology and regulation.  Additionally, the prospect of less “leakage” in the system of intellectual property that may actually benefit innovation and other values such as free speech may be at risk.  It will be interesting to see if less leakage and perhaps more payment to some creators will lead to more creativity and innovation.  That's the goal, right?  Kodak’s stock tripled on the announcement of the programs. 

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Upcoming Neil Wilkof Presentations in London

The members of the IP Finance blog team from time to time venture out to the speaking arena to share their thoughts. A little bird has told me that fellow IP Finance blogger, Neil Wilkof, will soon be making an (increasingly) rare visit to London, where he will be giving two public lectures. For those readers who are in the London area, the subjects to be discussed might be of interest.

The first presentation, "Changing Commercial Circumstances, IP and the Revenge of the Common Law", will take place on January 23rd  at 18:00 at King's College (details here).

The second presentation,  "Branding and Co-Branding: How Much Do They Really Contribute to Innovation,"  will take place on January 25th at 16:30 at UCL (details here).

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Whitney Houston's Tax Settlement on IP and Royalties

Accounting Today reports that Whitney Houston has settled with the tax authority in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), concerning mostly the value of her intellectual property, particularly the right of publicity, and royalties.  The IRS's valuation was around $22 million.  The parties settled for $2 million.  Michael Jackson's estate has been embroiled in a similar problem with the IRS, here. For more on valuation of the right of publicity for estate tax purposes, see Sara Zherhi's article on the subject in Harvard's Journal of Sports and Entertainment Law (be sure to check the new tax law in the United States).  

Thursday, 28 December 2017

The parlous state of national champions: the sagging fortunes of Teva

One of the darker aspects of hi-tech is the fate of national champions in smaller countries. When we say "fate", we typically mean the rise and fall of such companies in the face of global competitors from the U.S. Nokia in Finland and Nortel in Canada come to mind, both world class competitors, at least for a while, and in Nokia's case, the world leader in an earlier generation of cell phones. To this list the name of the Israeli company Teva Pharmaceutical Industries should be added; in some ways, Teva's story may be the most emotional of all.

For readers who might not be familiar with Teva, the company became the world's largest producer of generic drugs and the undisputed national hi tech champion of Israel. Unlike so many of the vaunted Israeli start-ups that have gone from creation to exit in less than a decade, leaving their founders with millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, but adding little to the overall macro-employment situation in Israel, Teva maintained (either organically or by acquisition) multiple plants in Israel, as well as keeping the company an Israeli entity with its headquarters in a suburb of Tel-Aviv. Yet, on December 14th, the company (with a new CEO, Kåre Schultz, formerly of Novo Nordisk) announced that it would eliminate a quarter of its employees world-wide, including 1,700 in Israel.

This number may not seem like the cause for national economic mourning, but in the Israeli context, there is no other way to describe the impact of the cut-backs on the national psyche. The New York Times (" 'Nobody Thought It Would Come to This': Drug Maker Teva Faces a Crisis", December 17, 2017) described Teva as the "corporate version of a national celebrity", the one genuine instance of a home-grown company that became a world leader in its field. Indeed, there are few pension funds in the country that do not hold Teva stock, such that it became, again, in the words of The New York Times, "the people's stock".

It is the company’s long-time roots in the country that strike a particular chord, dating back to the early 20th century, when the predecessor to what is now Teva began to distribute--via camels and donkeys-- drugs and like products in what was then Turkish Palestine. This blogger recalls being told the story of those early days by a third-generation descendant of founders, a source of continuing family pride, but a story also recounted fondly by broader swathes of the Israeli population.

But behind this romanticism is a medium-sized pharmaceutical company, by international standards, which had everything go right for it— for a while. In the 1960's, certain national legislation enabled the company to enter the market for generic drugs and hone the management and execution skills needed to successfully compete in this market. At that time, the company was blessed with a larger-than-life chief executive, Eli Hurvitz, who drove the company's international expansion in the area of generics while continuing to keep the company Israeli-focused to the extent possible throughout his tenure at the company (he retired as CEO in 2002). This included establishing plants in the country's periphery, long a backwater in the country's economy. Further, the company enjoyed oversized success as a patent licensee (from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel) of the branded drug—COPAXONE, used to treat multiple sclerosis, the sales of which came to constitute nearly 40% of the company's operating profits in some years.

So what happened? First, starting in about 2010, the economics of the generic drug market significantly changed, especially in the U.S., where large retail pharmacy chains joined with so-called pharmacy-benefit managers to create purchasing giants with the market power to force down prices. With margins narrowing as a result, Teva, at least with respect to the plants in Israel, found itself in an inferior position vis a vis competitors in lower cost countries, both from established generic competitors in India and more recently in China.

Second, the company is facing a patent cliff regarding the COPAXONE product: the brand name is not likely to be of commercial consequence post-patent as competitors enter with lower-cost alternatives. Teva thereby faces the double whammy of not having a proprietary block-buster product to replace COPAXONE plus a declining competitive position in the generic market.

Third, the company's declining fortunes in the generic drug area was exacerbated as a result of its acquisition in 2015 of the Actavis generic products division from Allergen. The purchase price was $40.5 billion. Debate in the Israeli business press has raged over whether Teva overpaid at the time, given the state of the generics market, or whether the wisdom of hindsight rules. Whatever is correct, the company has $35 billion in debt and is facing a cash squeeze. Cutting costs is the only short-term strategy. The announced restructuring is expected to save the company $3 billion by 2019.

This blogger previously discussed ("When a company's future is caught in the generic drug/proprietary drug crosshairs") the particular challenge of a pharmaceutical company of the size of Teva, with 2016 revenues in the amount of $21.9 billion, and a market capitalization that has declined nearly $20 billion during 2017. How to right the ship with respect to its generic products, while also ramping up the necessary R&D to support a viable proprietary drug business, is daunting for even the largest pharmaceutical company. However Teva responds to this challenge, it is difficult to imagine that it will keep its status within Israel as the undisputed national industrial champion. There is no one else to replace it.

By Neil Wilkof

Monday, 25 December 2017

Improving the Digital Marketplace for Copyrighted Works

The Department of Commerce Internet Policy Task Force is holding sessions on improving the digital marketplace for copyrighted works at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  The sessions are open to all and available via webcast.  The next meeting is January 25, 2018.  Here is a description of the meetings and future agenda:

Topics likely to be covered include: (1) initiatives to advance the digital content marketplace, with a focus on standards, interoperability, and digital registries and database initiatives to track ownership and usage rights and facilitate licensing; (2) innovative technologies (e.g. blockchain, artificial intelligence) designed to improve the ways consumers access and use photos, film, music, text, and other types of digital content; (3) international initiatives, including the role of government in facilitating such initiatives and technological development. Members of the public will have opportunities to participate at the meeting.

In the previous public meetings, the Task Force heard from stakeholders that the government can play a useful role by facilitating dialogues between and among industry sectors. Based on this feedback, the Task Force has organized this meeting to build on the work of the December 2016 meeting and facilitate constructive, cross-industry dialogue among stakeholders about ways to promote a more robust and collaborative online marketplace for copyrighted works.

I think wide participation from stakeholders from around the world is welcome.  The distribution of content on the Internet is changing soon.  
Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

IP Valuation in Early Stage Investments - Webinar Today - sign up!

You are invited to join OxFirst for a webinar today at 3pm - 4pm GMT for talk on IP Valuation in Early Stage Investments presented by John E. Dubiansky: 
What this talk is about
The adequate valuation of patents plays a crucial element in vital markets for technology, while at the same time allowing investors to make an educated investment decision.  In spite of that, investors lack adequate knowledge on how to value patents. The major challenge does not seem to be that patents cannot be valued for financial purposes, but rather that investors are quite ignorant about patents and are not well informed on their risk and reward structures. Against this background, this talk helps shed light on IP valuation and demystify a concept crucial to building markets for intellectual property.

About the Speaker
John is an attorney advisor in the Federal Trade Commission’s Office of Policy Planning. His work focuses on the intersection of intellectual property and competition law and on issues such as patent assertion entities and standard essential patents. Prior to joining the Commission, John practiced as a patent litigator at law firms in the Washington D.C. area including Howrey LLP and Kirkland & Ellis LLP. John holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University and received his J.D. from the Harvard Law School.

How to Join
You are requested to please sign up with your professional email account as they don’t accept registrations from personal email addresses.