Saturday 28 March 2015
Tuesday 24 March 2015
"What's more, these tech jobs pay 50 percent more than the average private sector wage, which means they're a ticket into the middle class."A report on March 16th on techrepublic.com characterized the program as follows:
"There's not one fix to get people moving in this direction professionally. The initiative includes getting employers to change the ways they recruit and place applicants based on skills; $100 million in federal investments toward "innovative approaches to training and successfully employing low-skill individuals with barriers to training and employment"; efforts on the part of "private sector leaders" to aid with free training online, and the expansion of coding boot camps, to name a few.”The most interesting, and most controversial aspect of this initiative, is the focus on coding camps. The initiative currently involves partnering with various bodies in 21 communities, with the emphasis on reaching out to locales removed from the likes of Silicon Valley and New York City. An example brought is the TechHire Initiative is Louisville, Kentucky, which techrepublic.com described as follows:
“In 2013, a free, 12-week course called Code Louisville launched, fueled by volunteer mentors, partnerships with local companies, and help from the KentuckianaWorks department. The program aims to help students develop coding skills through a mix of in-person mentorship and self-driven learning, done through a learning platform called Treehouse, available through the Louisville Free Public Library system….. Next year, Code Louisville will expand as part of the Workforce Innovation Fund grant from the Department of Labor, as well as grow relationships with local businesses.”The debate over the program focuses on four related issues: first, is there really such a mismatch between skills and available IT positions. Skeptics question this, including no less an expert than Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton, the Vice-Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, who expressed doubts in a recent radio interview on Bloomberg. Secondly, can a coding camp provide sufficient training to enable a graduate to function at an entry-level position? Thirdly, does the training provide a sufficient skill set to enable one to advance from that entry-level position, i.e., will it enable a graduate of the program to enjoy a bona-fide career in the field? Fourthly, will it complement or supplant at some graduates of degree programs in computer science?
President Obama apparently thinks the answer to each of these questions is “yes”, having observed in his speech that "[i]t turns out, it doesn't matter where you learned code, it just matters how good you are in writing code." President Obama’s statement was particularly well received by Dave Hoover, co-founder of Dev Bootcamp, who stated that , “it's true that not every employer is comfortable with hiring someone without a four-year computer science degree, but they're limiting their talent pool.” Also, it provides an alternative for persons who cannot afford a four-year degree program for whatever reason.
Monday 23 March 2015
Thursday 19 March 2015
It is not merely the amount that has been invested in Star Citizen which is remarkable, but the number of investors who have participated in the funding of the game’s development. The article reports that over 750,000 people have pledged to invest in the game, with the amount of the investments ranging from $36.00 to $18,000. What do these investors expect to receive in return? If you think that the answer is equity, or a share of any profits, you would be wrong. Instead, the investment in the Star Citizen project is perhaps the leading example of what is called “reward crowdsourcing.” In this context, it means, in the words of the article, that the investors receive “virtual spacecraft to use in the game, early access to unfinished versions, T-shirts and so on.” As such, the motivation derives more from a certain commitment to the game itself and the collective desire to see the game successfully published.
The article suggests that this type of investment, as opposed to seeking more conventional sources of funding, enables the developer to connect with the population most likely to become users of the game once it is launched. As such it represents the use of social media in the dual role of product development and product marketing. Thus CIG is releasing the game in stages, in part to reassure investors about the viability of the project, as well as to elicit their feedback regarding the game itself. The ultimate goal is to instill “rabid devotion in fans” long before the actual launch. It is crowdfunding that makes possible this integration of funding with pre-launch marketing. That said, the question remains whether this form of engagement of small investor-cum-user can be generalized to other video games and the like, or if the Star Citizen project is a one-off success.
Wednesday 18 March 2015
- R&D expenditure credit: 11%
- SME relief: 230%
- repayment credit rate stays at 14.5%
HMRC are planning to provide (on request!) advance assurances (valid for three years) on whether R&D activities qualifies, for smaller companies, giving certainty for those new to the regime - it's just a pity we have to wait until Autumn 2015 for the assurances to be available. The planned new guidance for smaller companies also welcome, as is the plan for publicity campaign to raise awareness of the relief.
Film relief: extended to be 25% of surrendered losses for all, removing the distinction between limited budget films and others (subject to State aid clearance). This simplifies the relief and makes it easier for films with budgets on the borderline of £20m to determine the amount of relief available to them; it effectively extends the FA2014 change which softened the cliff edge element of the relief for large budget films.
This could re-named HMRC’s belated revenge on the Howard estate: assets which have been lent to a business will not be able to be treated as plant and therefore a wasting asset unless the vendor has used it in their own business. This follows, unsurprisingly, from the case brought against HMRC by the estate of the late Lord Howard, which succeeded in having a 200 year old painting, previously displayed at Castle Howard, treated as a wasting asset and exempt from CGT on sale.
Tuesday 17 March 2015
The survey submits that absence the incentives of patent ownership and exclusive licences, companies and investors could not justify the effort in bringing these drugs to market. The results seem to be in contradiction to the study by Robin Feldman and Mark Lemley available here, which argued that licensing did not contribute to innovation. Gene Quinn of IP Watchdog argued very succinctly that that study was seriously flawed since it relied on a subjective survey of practitioners.
The argument about whether research funded by governments should be patented and licenced by private companies for their own benefit is one that has been running ever since this author carried out his own Ph.D. research. The latest study seems to demonstrate the value of allowing universities to patent and licence their own IP, even if the public has paid for the research through their tax dollars/euros. It’s probably a question of finding the balance - there may be some research that really should not be patented.
Friday 6 March 2015
SECURITY INTERESTS OVER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTSA one-day conference to be held on 27 March 2015Venue: Olswang LLP, 90 High Holborn, Greater London WC1V 6XXProgrammeChairman: the Rt. Hon. Lord Saville of Newdigate8.30am Registration and Coffee9.15am Welcome by Chairman9.30am First SessionIntroduction to the Secured Transactions Law Reform ProjectProf Louise Gullifer, University of OxfordSecurity interests over IP rights under English lawDr Andrea Tosato, University of NottinghamA practitioner’s perspective on security interests over IP rights in the UKCharles Kerrigan, OlswangA lender’s perspective on security interests over IP rights in the UKBenedict Smith, Banco SantanderQ&A11.15am Coffee11.30an Second SessionSecurity interests over IP rights: the view of the UKIPOTony Clayton, UKIPOChallenges related to security interests over IP rights under the Canadian PPSA systemProf Norman Siebrasse, University of New BrunswickSecurity interests over IP rights in the USA: the UCC 9 approachSteve Weise, Proskauer Rose
Over the years Chicago-based Ocean Tomo have calculated the value of intangible assets held by S&P 500 companies. Their latest report has been published today and it shows that on 1 January 2015 the percentage of the value of a company’s intangible assets grew to a massive 84% of the company’s value. That’s a rise of 4% since 2005, but more interestingly up from 17% in 1975.Ocean Tomo’s CEO Jim Malackowski is sceptical that there is going to be any more rise. He suggests that the America Invents Act combined with economic change suggests that there may be a re-balancing back towards tangible assets in the coming decade. He’s probably right - outsourcing to China is reducing and some American companies are reopening or building new production facities. That will add to the value of the tangible assets. However, it’s not clear that those will actually appear on the books of manufacturing companies, since many facilities are built and leased by other companies.
On the other hand, there is probably a limit to „virtualization“ of assets. All companies have some tangible assets - for manufacturing companies this will often be items of stock. In other companies it may be some of the IT assets. Jim is probably right. We may have reached the feasible limit. Nonetheless the figures show the dramatic impact that intangibles have had on the US economy (and probably in most of the world).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that many boards have failed to appreciate this point and will still spend a great deal of time discussing their physical assets and too little their intangible assets, such as personnel, innovation and intellectual property.
Thursday 5 March 2015
This blogger is somewhat confused as to where the court is heading. It seems that computer programs sold online, which are analogous in many respects to e-books, are treated like real books when it comes to exhaustion of rights, as in Case C‑128/11 UsedSoft, but that real books and e-books are treated quite differently when it comes to VAT. Comments, anyone?France and Luxembourg cannot apply a reduced rate of VAT to the supply of electronic books, in contrast with paper books
In France and in Luxembourg, the supply of electronic books is subject to a reduced rate of VAT. Accordingly, since 1 January 2012, France has applied a VAT rate of 5.5% and Luxembourg a rate of 3% to the supply of electronic books.
The digital or electronic books at issue include books supplied, for consideration, by download or web streaming (‘streaming’), from a website so that they can be viewed on a computer, a smartphone, electronic book readers or other reading system.
The Commission has asked the Court to declare that, by applying a reduced rate of VAT to the supply of electronic books, France and Luxembourg have failed to fulfil their obligations under the VAT Directive [that's Council Directive 2006/112 on the common system of value added tax].
In today’s judgments, the Court upholds the Commission’s action for failure to fulfil obligations.
Moreover, the Court finds that the VAT Directive excludes any possibility of a reduced VAT rate being applied to ‘electronically supplied services’. The Court holds that the supply of electronic books is such a service. The Court rejects the argument that the supply of electronic books constitutes a supply of goods (and not a supply of services). Only the physical support enabling an electronic book to be read could qualify as ‘tangible property’ but such support is not part of the supply of electronic books.
The Commission also criticises Luxembourg for applying a super-reduced VAT rate of 3%, even though the VAT Directive prohibits, in principle, VAT rates lower than 5 %. The Court recalls that, according to the VAT Directive, a Member State may apply reduced VAT rates lower than 5%, provided that, among other things, the reduced rates are in accordance with EU legislation. Since the Court held earlier that the application of a reduced rate of VAT to the supply of electronic books does not comply with the VAT Directive, the requirement that it comply with EU legislation is not met with the result that Luxembourg cannot apply a super-reduced VAT rate of 3% to the supply of electronic books.
The judgments delivered by the Court today do not prevent Member States from introducing a reduced rate of VAT for books on physical support, such as paper books.
Tuesday 3 March 2015
“Banking on IP? The role of intellectual property and intangible assets in facilitating business finance” report was published [in] October 2013. The report sought to examine how effectively SMEs are able to use their intellectual property assets to secure the finance they need for company growth. It highlighted barriers faced by IP rich businesses seeking debt finance.This blogger appreciates that a document as short as this one cannot hope to be a panacea for all the ailments associated with IP finance. He hopes, though, that it will help to improve the efficacy of communication between those who need IP finance and those who offer it -- even if there remains an even bigger bridge to cross when seeking to balance the deep-roote caution of lenders with the inherent optimism of would-be borrowers.
In March 2014 the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) published “Banking on IP, An Active Response” . This summarised the IPO’s conclusions and set out the actions it intended to take to address some of the barriers highlighted in the original report.
One of those actions was the development of tools or a framework to support a better dialogue between businesses and financial services professionals. The tools will help businesses articulate the IP they have, how it is secured and how it supports the future cash flow of the business. This toolkit has been developed with that aim. It is geared to:
• Help lenders and businesses talk the same language;We hope you find this guidance useful and would encourage you to work through it in advance of any discussions with potential lenders. We would also encourage potential lenders to use this guidance to understand potential value that intellectual property assets may have to a business seeking debt finance
• Encourage and guide businesses to document their IP assets ahead of any application for finance;
• Help businesses to develop more effective IP management and commercialisation strategies; and
• Raise awareness of the wide variety of finance options available for IP-rich businesses.
Monday 2 March 2015
There is wide-ranging support for the view that patents are valuable assets, and that there should be greater levels of engagement from the banks, insurers and the financial markets more generally. The starting point in the evolution of all asset classes is however the need for markets to be establish who owns what. You would think that this is a no-brainer for patents -- a registered right with professionally managed registries, tasked with the responsibility for maintaining records of patent owners.
Do participate in this survey and/or forward it to others if you can -- ideally by 14 March 2015. IP Finance looks forward to seeing conclusions drawn from the responses and will bring them to you.
The actual position is very different. The information on patent registers is inaccurate. There are many reasons for this, ranging from data quality issues (there are 28 patents recorded in the name of _!) to the fact that it is not mandatory to record assignments, and many companies do not. In between, there is legal ambiguity ('CSR' is recorded on many patents in the world, and it is for the searcher to decide whether this is a Bluetooth company in Cambridge, a railway company in China or a mining company in Australia). Plans are underway to improve this position and Aistemos is conducting a survey to test awareness of the issue and the appetite for a solution. Please take five minutes to complete the survey and to circulate it to your network. The aggregated and anonymised responses will be published a part of a report next month.
Patent records can be
so frustrating ...
To access the survey, click here.