Saturday 29 June 2013

Money for Nothing (?) and the IP for Free: Crowdfunding Science

Inside Higher Ed recently published an article about several entities with websites which allow crowdfunding for scientific research projects, most by academics, in Kickstarter style.  Here are a few:;; and   Do the funders obtain IP rights?  I suppose they could as an incentive for funding depending on the rules of the entity.  Although travelling with a researcher to Peru may be more fun! is thoughtful about protecting the IP of the submitters of research.  Here is a link to their IP site and they have a “special IP guidelines document” by Daniel L. Dawes.   Clearly, employers of researchers will want to know if they have researchers submitting proposals to these types of sites.

The Inside Higher Ed article also highlights the launch of the University of Virginia’s own crowdfunding site—great idea!  Here is the site.  And, they’ve already started getting funding!  Know of any other similar sites?

Wednesday 26 June 2013

New service from Brandstrike targets internet losses

This blogger has just been informed of an interesting new service being offered by brand protection services Brandstrike. According to a media release from Brandstrike's Damian Croker:
Businesses frustrated with an inability to pinpoint websites responsible for revenue and reputation loss will get a helping hand this month as brand protection services company, Brandstrike launches its revolutionary Revenue and Reputation Risk Index™ (RRRI™). 
The patent pending technology behind Brandstrike’s RRR is the first of its kind to give rights holders the information they need to be able to focus on those websites that are actually causing real revenue and reputation loss. It transforms the current approach, which calls for a mass targeting of thousands of sites in the hope of catching the culprits in the net, with a seamless, integrated and speedy solution. 
Part of Brandstrike’s new IPCurator online brand protection solution, the ... RRI does all of the hard work for the rights holder, working out which infringing sites are getting the most traffic and then ranking them accordingly. It assigns a number to each website based on their search engine ranking results, making it possible to identify which infringing web sites are being visited by the largest number of consumers. This means enforcement resources can be appropriately and quickly directed at the offenders. 
Damian Croker, CEO of Brandstrike said: 
“... Counterfeiters that sell on the Internet have developed very good SEO skills and can register a domain name one week and be on the first page of a large search engine, such as Google, the next. Those counterfeiters are increasingly moving away from .com top-level domains (TLDs) and are now moving to country-code TLDs (ccTLDs) such as, making monitoring and enforcement on generic TLDs (gTLDs), such as .com registrations, only a part of the challenge.” 
Performing a search using a local search engine does not reveal which websites are appearing in the search results of consumers in other countries, because search results are specific to the geography of the searcher.  Therefore, the counterfeit web sites that a brand owner is able to remove or force to a lower rank on a given search engine are not necessarily the ones causing lost revenue and reputation in other parts of the world. 
Current online brand protection solutions are mostly based on ranking engines, such as Alexa, coupled with search results from a single search engine such as Google.  Some might employ algorithms that include other factors, but until Brandstrike’s RRRI, none could accurately identify which websites are receiving the most visitors around the world and are therefore the ones causing the most revenue and reputation loss....

The basic idea sounds logical enough, but it will be even better when we can get some examples of actual or estimated savings. And will the those targeted be able to take steps to avoid or mitigate its effectiveness?  IP Finance will watch with interest.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Federal Trade Commission to Seek Information about “Patent Trolls”

The White House continues to move against the “patent trolls”.  The chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Edith Ramirez, announced that the FTC would gather information concerning “patent trolls” and their practices.   Back in April, Google, Blackberry, Red Hat and Earthlink (collectively, Google) submitted comments to the FTC and Department of Justice requesting the inquiry.  In the comments, Google provided some potential questions for “trolls”:

How prevalent is outsourcing of patent enforcement by operating companies to PAEs?

What types of arrangement have PAEs and operating companies consummated? 

What motivates these arrangements?

What are the likely competitive harms and benefits of outsourcing?

What are the competitive implications of the secrecy with which many PAEs conduct their operations?

Do the particular terms of outsourcing arrangements indicate that operating companies are employing PAE proxies as competitive weapons?

The comments are well worth a read.  From the reports on the chairwoman’s comments (unfortunately, I could not find a copy of the comments--if you have access to them, please let me know and I'll post them), it appears that the inquiry may be broader than the questions posed by Google, but it appears those questions will be addressed (here, here, here and here).  More information about "patent trolls" and their practices is welcome.  The National Retail Federation, the Food Marketing Institute and the National Restaurant Association announced they are supportive of the FTC’s efforts. 

Friday 21 June 2013

A Very Active White House on IP: The 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on IP Enforcement

The White House, through its Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator, has released the new 2013 Joint Strategic Plan on IP Enforcement which builds upon the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan.  If anything, the White House is taking a proactive stance on IP.  Interestingly, some stakeholders who ordinarily may disagree seem to think this is generally a “fair” plan (see here and for more discussion see here).  For example, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the RIAA seem to both give it a cautious “thumbs up.”  One interesting action item concerns the examination of labor conditions of manufacturers of counterfeits.  Here is the discussion of that interesting issue:

There have been anecdotal reports that poor and dangerous working conditions, sometimes involving child labor, are found to exist in facilities where counterfeit and pirated goods are being manufactured overseas or in illicit distribution networks. A deeper analysis of the issue would shed greater light on the problem and provide an opportunity to strengthen our engagement with foreign governments and improve efforts to combat manufacturing and distribution of illicit counterfeit and pirated goods. In addition, the resulting information could enhance public awareness of the direct connection between purchasing infringing goods, supporting illicit businesses, and the impact on working men and women across the globe. Going forward: DOS will begin an examination of the nexus between unacceptable working conditions and the production and distribution of counterfeit goods in certain countries. Further actions will be considered depending upon the outcome of that examination.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. 

Here is a list of the action items building on the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan (there are 26 including items included in the 2010 Joint Strategic Plan):

1) Facilitate voluntary initiatives to reduce online intellectual property infringement. IPEC will reach out to additional sectors (which may include data storage services, domain name registrars, and search engines) and will also encourage rightholders to adopt a set of best practices. USPTO will start a process to assess the voluntary initiatives; 2) Conduct a comprehensive review of domestic laws to determine needed legislative changes to improve enforcement;  3) Support small and medium-size enterprises in foreign markets. DOC will increase outreach and support to such enterprises through nationwide educational efforts;  4) Evaluate the enforcement process of exclusion orders issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). IPEC will chair an interagency working group to improve the process for enforcement of Section 337/ITC exclusion orders; 5) Coordinate international capacity-building and training. IPEC will reorganize the interagency working group on capacity-building and training and embassies will follow up on a regular basis with governments that receive training to evaluate results; 6) Improve transparency in intellectual property policymaking. IPEC will look for additional ways to hear concerns and gather input from a wide range of stakeholders; 7) Improve law enforcement communication with stakeholders. DOJ and ICE will look for additional ways to engage a broad range of stakeholders in an effort to increase understanding of law enforcement operations and expand stakeholder relationships; 8) Assess the economic impact of intellectual property-intensive industries. DOC will issue an annual report on the number of jobs and contribution to the GDP of such industries; 9) Use legal software. IPEC, with the Federal Procurement Policy Administrator and the U.S. Chief Information Officer will review the mechanisms that agencies have in place in order to share best practices and ensure legal use; 10) Examine labor conditions. DOS will examine the relationship between unacceptable labor conditions and the manufacture and distribution of counterfeits and take further action if necessary; 11) Improve IPR enforcement efficacy by leveraging advanced technology and expertise. IPEC will chair an interagency working group to identify and advance new and innovative technologies to improve enforcement capabilities at the border. In addition, law enforcement agencies will look for ways to engage outside technology experts and Internet engineers to increase expertise on online enforcement approaches; 12) Increase focus on counterfeits shipped through international mail and work with express carriers. CBP will work to obtain advance data from international post operators and express carrier companies to improve targeting; 13) Educate authors on “fair use” copyright doctrine. The U.S. Copyright Office will summarize current law and provide general guidance targeted to artists seeking to apply the law to their own situations;  14) Protect intellectual property at the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the FBI will work with ICANN, in collaboration with stakeholders, so that new top-level domains do not become new venues for infringement; and 15) Consider copyright and patent “small claims” courts. The U.S. Copyright Office and USPTO are considering alternative adjudicatory processes for hearing “small claims” cases brought by copyright and patent holders.

There is also an interesting list of government enforcement “successes” since 2010 and here is one of the items:

In April and May 2012, as a result of investigations generated by the IPR Center led Operation In Our Sites, in two separate cases ICE-HSI, working with DOJ, seized over $2 million in proceeds from online sales of counterfeit goods by Chinese perpetrators. The funds were seized from correspondent bank accounts located at the Bank of China in New York under 18 U.S.C. § 981(k), which permits the U.S. Government to seize funds from a foreign institution’s interbank accounts in the United States for forfeiture to the Treasury. This was ICE-HSI’s first use of section 981(k) to seize illicitly-derived proceeds identified as part of an intellectual property rights criminal investigation deposited in a Chinese bank.  . . . .

Sunday 16 June 2013

Costs and benefits of (some) US patents

"The Costs and Bene fits of United States Patents" is the title of a paper by a four-man team consisting of John Turner, James Bessen, Peter Neuhäusler and Jonathan Williams. Labelled both as Boston Univ. School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 13-24 and Boston Univ. School of Law, Law and Economics Research Paper No. 13-24, it is conveniently available via SSRN here. According to the abstract:
"We use a detailed data set to estimate the costs and benefits of United States patents. To estimate costs, we combine data from Derwent Litalert with a proprietary dataset of non-practicing entity (NPE) lawsuits collected by Patent Freedom, and use an event study approach to estimate losses suffered by alleged infringers during 1984-2009. To estimate benefits, we combine patent data from the USPTO and EPO with financial data from CRSP and COMPUSTAT, and use market-value regressions to estimate the value of patent rents for publicly-traded US firms during 1979-2002. 
We find that costs exceed benefits overall and that the gap between costs and benefits has grown across time. Surges in the number of NPE lawsuits, lawsuits filed over Computers/ Communications patents, and lawsuits brought against non-manufacturing, software and telecommunications firms contribute to the increase in the gap. Growth in costs outstrips growth in lawsuits, in part, because events in these fast-growing categories have higher-than-average per-event dollar costs".
This blogger is no economist, but he can't help wondering: what about all those patents that are never litigated, as well as those which are happily and uncontentiously licensed -- and what about all those patents which are not asserted by NPEs?

Thanks go to Gerry Gavigan for forwarding this link

Friday 14 June 2013

The Biotechnology Industry and the Choice to Patent or Rely on Trade Secrecy

The U.S. Supreme Court released its much anticipated decision in the Myriad case today.  Basically, the U.S. Supreme Court held that isolated DNA is not patentable subject matter.  While the U.S. Supreme Court apparently dealt a blow to some in the biotechnology industry, it did provide that cDNA could be patentable subject matter and the opinion carefully explained what it did not cover:

It is important to note what is not implicated by this decision. First, there are no method claims before this Court. Had Myriad created an innovative method of manipulating genes while searching for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, it could possibly have sought a method patent. . . . Similarly, this case does not involve patents on new applications of knowledge about the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Judge Bryson aptly noted that, “[a]s the first party with knowledge of the [BRCA1 and BRCA2] sequences, Myriad was in an excellent position to claim applications of that knowledge.  Many of its unchallenged claims are limited to such applications.”  689 F. 3d, at 1349. Nor do we consider the patentability of DNA in which the order of the naturally occurring nucleotides has been altered. Scientific alteration of the genetic code presents a different inquiry, and we express no opinion about the application of §101 to such endeavors. We merely hold that genes and the information they encode are not patent eligible under §101 simply because they have been isolated from the surrounding genetic material.

Notably, Myriad’s stock went up immediately after the decision and the stock did go back down by the close of the market.  And, at least one company has announced today it will offer BRCA testing for about a third of Myriad’s price.  My understanding is that many firms in the biotechnology industry have turned their back on patenting and have focused instead on trade secrecy (although a sound IP strategy surely includes both).  This supposedly has been happening for quite a while—maybe 5 years now.  I’ve been told that one reason firms are seeking to utilize trade secrecy instead of patents is because of the cost of patenting—particularly in seeking patent protection throughout the world.  The Myriad decision seems to further tilt the biotechnology industry towards trade secrecy with respect to some discoveries, but will it make that much of a difference?  In other words, the industry already was going down the trade secrecy path—does this decision push it a little faster down the road or does it have little to no impact?  (it matters to Myriad considering the way Myriad’s stock is going)  What about the signaling effect of patents?  If there is more reliance on trade secrecy over patents, does that mean that investors will have more difficulty ascertaining the expertise and value of small biotechnology companies? 

Monday 10 June 2013

Tax-paying for Fun and Profit

"Tax-paying for Fun and Profit" is the title of an unusual working paper by Robert Kunstadt and Ilaria Maggioni, which you can read here on MPRA. According to the abstract,
"Modern advances give us the ability to re-engineer the taxation system to benefit from computerized automation and the insights of modern psychology. People like to do things that bring a tangible reward. Tax-paying should be made FUN, not a chore. You will want to participate if you perceive a direct benefit. This new model selectively adapts the old English system of raising money by granting royal monopolies. A tax-paying entity would be allowed to make a bid on the percentage of tax it would pay for acquiring monopoly rights on a particular venture, posted publicly on a government-auction website for others to see and to post their alternative bids. Proposals put out for bid could immediately be tested for market viability by getting a thumbs-up/thumbs-down from the general public. The rewards to the proposer and to the public can be immediately perceived by all. Hence, the conditions for a positive stimulus-response-reward loop are fulfilled. Tax-paying becomes both fun and profitable, even more gratifying than betting in Las Vegas, because the bidder gets a perceptible benefit from it right away. The advantage to the state and its citizens is that monopoly efficiency does not just serve the monopolist but also the public. The would-be monopolist must make a precise calculation of how much to offer the state in taxes; upon pain of losing the auction to a competitor. With minimal government intervention, the “invisible hand” of economic theory is put to the task of serving the public good".
Robert and Ilaria are attorneys with the intellectual property-based practice of R. Kunstadt PC: they also have a very original view of the world. This working paper is based on an earlier publication by the same authors on public patent pools, published in Les Nouvelles.

Thursday 6 June 2013

The Branding Challenges of Groupon: A "Sticky" Situation

A colleague, a senior official at a leading governmental IP body, said it best to me several years ago during a pleasant luncheon conversation. "Forget patents and copyright", he declared, "the ultimate source of long-term IP competitive advantage is the strength of the company's brand. At the end of the day, branding is where it is at." I took these thoughts to heart when, several years ago, I considered the Groupon phenomenon. Two years to the day (June 6, 2011), in light of the rejected multi-billion dollar acquisition offer by Google and on the cusp of the Groupon IPO, we opined ("The Groupon IPO: Where does IP fit in?"), here, that Groupon faced an uncertain future, despite all of the interest in the company.

Many of you will are probably familiar with Groupon, here, whose business model rests on signing up participating merchants and service purveyors to offer their goods and services on the basis of the deal-of-the-day, in the belief that the customer will then return for more at full price. Our thinking at the time in questioning the business model was that the company faced the prospect that its marketing and advertising costs would never reach the necessary economies of scale and that low barriers to entry made the prevalence of competitors likely. As a result, the company would find it difficult to develop a "sticky" brand, whereby a critical mass of customers would develop an ongoing affinity to the brand that would translate in customer loyalty.

In other words, in the absence of any other material source of IP right that might confer a competitive advantage, the company was left with the slender reed that it could develop sufficient goodwill and reputation to enable it to stand-out in what promised to be a crowded field. Based on what we saw, we were skeptical that the goodwill and reputation of the Groupon brand would ever achieve the kind of brand stickiness that is essential to its long-term business success. We maintain this position—Groupon made be widely covered as a media item, but it has failed to achieve the hoped-for degree of customer loyalty. If "branding is where it is at", Groupon faces a daunting uphill battle.

When I wrote these words, I did not take into account that there might also be material collateral damage to the company's partners, namely those numerous entities that provide the discounted offers that serve as the foundation for the company's activities. It turns out that not only has the company found it difficult to build the "sticky" brand necessary to create the requisite customer loyalty but, as suggested in a recent podcast rebroadcast of an interview heard on Bloomberg radio, the company's lack of success in creating a "sticky" brand may also have a deleterious affect on the company's business partners. The position expressed was that the discounted offers available through Groupon do not result in increased customer loyalty with the discounting entity. Rather, the customer is inclined to cherry-pick the offers, enjoy the discount and move on. No customer "stickiness" here.

But, from the branding point of view, that is not all. The opinion expressed in the podcast is that the participating company, by being associated with the Groupon offer, does not merely fail to increase its consumer custom: its participation in the Groupon program actually impairs the value of its brand. Not only does the participating company fail to increase its customer base materially but it creates a class of one-off customers who may have formed a negative view of the participating company. In the aggregate, therefore, not only has the Groupon business model been challenged to meet the challenge of my colleague's exhortation—"branding is where it is at"—but it threatens to inflict collateral branding damage to its business partners.

This conclusion must nevertheless be tempered by the recognition that it merely reflected the opinions of a single interviewee and no empirical evidence was brought to support the position. (Perhaps there is an eager graduate marketing student out there who wishes to take on the topic.) In any event, the Groupon tale does counsel companies engaged in business models that are largely bereft of other forms of IP protection to confront the remaining threshold IP questions—can I develop requisite brand loyalty and does my business plan affect the reputation of others?  From the point of view of the potential business partner in such a novel business plan, the question becomes—"have I sufficiently considered the implications to my company's name and brand?" The ultimate competitive advantage of both companies may rest in successfully providing a solution to these questions.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

The White House Moves Against "Patent Trolls"

Today the Obama Administration announced “five executive actions and seven legislative recommendations to protect innovators from frivolous litigation and ensure the highest-quality patents in our system.”  The announcement is here.  The recommendations are below.  The recommendations that seem especially interesting include: expanding challenges to computer enabled patents at the PTO; changing the standard for issuance of injunctions at the International Trade Commission; incentivizing public disclosure of demand letters; increasing efforts to identify the real parties in interest; and making new rules concerning functional claiming in the software context. 


In that spirit, the Administration recommends that Congress pursue at least seven legislative measures that would have immediate effect on some major problems innovators face.  These measures would:

  1. Require patentees and applicants to disclose the “Real Party-in-Interest,” by requiring that any party sending demand letters, filing an infringement suit or seeking PTO review of a patent to file updated ownership information, and enabling the PTO or district courts to impose sanctions for non-compliance.
  2. Permit more discretion in awarding fees to prevailing parties in patent cases, providing district courts with more discretion to award attorney’s fees under 35 USC 285 as a sanction for abusive court filings (similar to the legal standard that applies in copyright infringement cases).
  3. Expand the PTO’s transitional program for covered business method patents to include a broader category of computer-enabled patents and permit a wider range of challengers to petition for review of issued patents before the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB).
  4. Protect off-the-shelf use by consumers and businesses by providing them with better legal protection against liability for a product being used off-the-shelf and solely for its intended use.  Also, stay judicial proceedings against such consumers when an infringement suit has also been brought against a vendor, retailer, or manufacturer.
  5. Change the ITC standard for obtaining an injunction to better align it with the traditional four-factor test in eBay Inc. v. MercExchange, to enhance consistency in the standards applied at the ITC and district courts.
  6. Use demand letter transparency to help curb abusive suits, incentivizing public filing of demand letters in a way that makes them accessible and searchable to the public.
  7. Ensure the ITC has adequate flexibility in hiring qualified Administrative Law Judges.


Today the Administration is also announcing a number of steps it is taking to help bring about greater transparency to the patent system and level the playing field for innovators.  Those steps include:

  1. Making “Real Party-in-Interest” the New Default.  Patent trolls often set up shell companies to hide their activities and enable their abusive litigation and extraction of settlements.  This tactic prevents those facing litigation from knowing the full extent of the patents that their adversaries hold when negotiating settlements, or even knowing connections between multiple trolls.  Today, the PTO will begin a rulemaking process to require patent applicants and owners to regularly update ownership information when they are involved in proceedings before the PTO, specifically designating the “ultimate parent entity” in control of the patent or application.
  2. Tightening Functional Claiming.  The AIA made important improvements to the examination process and overall patent quality, but stakeholders remain concerned about patents with overly broad claims — particularly in the context of software.  The PTO will provide new targeted training to its examiners on scrutiny of functional claims and will, over the next six months develop strategies to improve claim clarity, such as by use of glossaries in patent specifications to assist examiners in the software field.
  3. Empowering Downstream Users.  Patent trolls are increasingly targeting Main Street retailers, consumers and other end-users of products containing patented technology — for instance, for using point-of-sale software or a particular business method.  End-users should not be subject to lawsuits for simply using a product as intended, and need an easier way to know their rights before entering into costly litigation or settlement.  Today, the PTO is announcing new education and outreach materials, including an accessible, plain-English web site offering answers to common questions by those facing demands from a possible troll.
  4. Expanding Dedicated Outreach and Study.  Challenges to U.S. innovation using tools available in the patent space are particularly dynamic, and require both dedicated attention and meaningful data.  Engagement with stakeholders — including patent holders, research institutions, consumer advocates, public interest groups, and the general public — is also an important part of our work moving forward.  Roundtables and workshops that the PTO, DOJ, and FTC have held in 2012 have offered invaluable input to this process.  Today, we are announcing an expansion of our outreach efforts, including six months of high-profile events across the country to develop new ideas and consensus around updates to patent policies and laws.  We are also announcing an expansion of the PTO Edison Scholars Program, which will bring distinguished academic experts to the PTO to develop — and make available to the public — more robust data and research on the issues bearing on abusive litigation.
  5. Strengthen Enforcement Process of Exclusion Orders. Once the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) finds a violation of Section 337 and issues an exclusion order barring the importation of infringing goods, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the ITC are responsible for determining whether imported articles fall within the scope of the exclusion order. Implementing these orders present unique challenges given these shared responsibilities and the complexity of making this determination, particularly in cases in which a technologically sophisticated product such as a smartphone has been successfully redesigned to not fall within the scope of the exclusion order. To address this concern, the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator will launch an interagency review of existing procedures that CBP and the ITC use to evaluate the scope of exclusion orders and work to ensure the process and standards utilized during exclusion order enforcement activities are transparent, effective, and efficient.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Exploiting academic IP in Turkey and beyond: a conference report

This year's “International Conference on Managing Intellectual Property in Universities” took place from 23 to 25 May 2013 at the Bogazici University, Istanbul,being the third of the annual conferences that have been held since 2010 on its historic and picturesque campus. This year’s conference happened to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the establishment of this educational institution which was founded in 1863 during the Ottoman Empire, as the first ever American college of higher education outside the USA.  

The following guest post is a report from Turkish scholar Mehmet Artemel on this year's event: 
"The theme and content for this year’s conference appeared to have been influenced by a recent governmental initiative through the Ministry of Science, Industry and Technology and The Scientific and the Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) which resulted in the provision of substantial funds amounting to 10 million Turkish Liras (equivalent to a little over three and a half million pounds sterling) spread over 10 years, for the establishment of technology transfer offices in 10 Turkish universities that were selected and announced in March 2013. 
The ten universities (Bogazici, Ege, Gazi, Hacettepe, Koc, Middle East Technical, Ozyegin, Sabanci, Selcuk, and Yildiz Technical) were among the top 50 universities as listed in the “Entrepreneurial and Innovative University Index of Turkey” which had lodged an application in response to the first call for Support Programme 1513 for Technology Transfer which was launched in November 2012 (see European Commission’s ERAWATCH)
 The three-day event proceeded as follows: an all-day conference open to the public on the 23rd; the following day, a closed plenary session with the representatives of the 10 universities that had been allocated funds; a full-day training course on patent searching by two experts (Mustafa Cakir and Aykut Gulalanlar) from Ege University on the 25th. Opening speeches were delivered by the Rector of Bogazici University (Gülay Barbarosoğlu), the Chairman of Logo Business Solutions (Tuğrul Tekbulut) and the Minister of Science, Industry and Technology (Nihat Ergün). The first panel on “International, regional and national strategies of public institutions on the role of TTOs to enhance university & industry relations”, which was moderated by the Vice Rector of Bogazici University (Lale Akarun), kicked off with presentations by the representatives of WIPO (Olga Spasic), EPO (Thomas Bereuter), and The Council of Higher Education (Durmuş Günay). Missing was the President of the Turkish Patent Institute (Habip Asan) who was reported to have cancelled his trip to Istanbul at the very last minute on account of the draft IP bill which is expected to go through the Parliament in the very near future. The draft bill among other things incorporates a revolutionary amendment to the ownership of IP in Turkish universities. Hitherto, Turkey was the only other country in Europe other than Sweden and Italy, which subscribed to the “professor’s privilege” regime whereby universities could not, except in limited circumstances, lay claim to IP emanating from R&D conducted by faculty within the university. The new regulations will herald the beginning of a new era which many hope will trigger and emulate the economic success which was witnessed in the US following the enactment of the Bayh-Dole Act. 
It remains to be seen whether a change in the legal regime in today’s global economic environment will yield similar results in Turkey. But since not much headway appears to have been made in generating and exploiting IP that arises in universities under the current system, there does not seem to be any harm in trying a different route which seems to have proven successful despite recent criticisms that are being voiced against the Bayh-Dole Act in the US. Equally, patience will be a requisite virtue since as related by experts from the UK and the US, tangible results and monetary returns of technology transfer have been known to take a long time to mature.
 The second panel was chaired by yours truly with speakers from the technology transfer offices of Cambridge (Richard Jennings), Oxford (Manuel Fuertes) and Imperial College (Brian Graves) as well as the former director of technology transfer at Cornell University (Richard Cahoon) and the vice rector of Middle East Technical University (Volkan Atalay) in Ankara. Presentations by Richard Jennings and Manuel Fuertes were enlightening in that they revealed how successful Cambridge and Oxford were at generating income through the provision of consultancy services – a function which would not seem to have been given due weight and recognition in either other presentations or among the set of skills to be expected from the newly established TTOs. Brian Graves of Imperial College was keen to stress that the success of a TTO was dependent on its ability to attract world-class management people with industry experience. Richard Cahoon who was an inventor and patentee in his own right, suggested that reference should not be made to technology transfer, which had always existed in some form or another but of IP-based technology transfer.
 The third panel in the afternoon of the 23rd was devoted to “Assessment tools, methodologies and due diligence”. Moderated by the Managing Partner of Inveon (Serhat Görgün), representatives of institutional and private investment funds as well as IP commercialization facilitators (Taj Mattu of Foresight Science and Technology UK; Claude Kaplan of IP-Pragmatics UK, Shirley Gee of Keiretsu, Jacques Darcy of the European Investment Fund; Philip Purnell of Thomson Reuters) shared their experience and provided insight as to opportunities which encouraged them to be forthcoming with funds. The final session on day one culminated in the presentation of an innovative model specifically devised for the Turkish case by Suat Genç, the Acting Vice-President for Strategy and Technology Development at TUBITAK Marmara Research Centre. Dr. Genç’s suggestion for a “fast way out for Turkish Universities and SMEs” turned upon an efficient cooperation and interaction between four entities, namely the “inventor”, “investor”, “industrializer”, and “incubator”. The “iFour” model” (including the term “industrializer”) as coined by Dr. Genç was proposed as the most appropriate strategy for Turkish TTOs in particular. As would be expected in an IP conference, a listener queried Dr. Genç as to whether he was not worried about publicly sharing his innovative idea to which more than several IP enthusiasts in the audience zealously offered their advice. On Friday the 24th, a closed session was held for presentations by the representatives of each one of the 10 universities followed by observations and suggestions by the representative of WIPO in collaboration with the representatives of foreign universities, which in turn was followed by speeches by the Secretary for the Committee of Technology Transfer Mechanisms at TUBITAK (Ahmet Riza Balim) and Suat Genç. While the representatives from TUBITAK did not mince their words when it came to raising their criticisms as to what they perceived to be inefficient practices that seemed counterproductive for IP based technology transfer, they also came across as refreshingly frank and open minded when they expressed their readiness to take on board suggestions and contributions that would be offered by universities for the improvement of the system. The representative of WIPO was invited to provide a brief synopsis which incorporated the feedback from the foreign delegates, expressing their suggestions and comments. The day came to a close after a lunch hosted by the European Investment Fund at a historic mansion on the Bosphorus where Jacques Darcy of the EIF gave a presentation which outlined their investment strategies and opportunities in the Turkish market.

 IP Finance thanks Professor Artemel for his report.