Friday, 15 November 2019

US Supreme Court will hear Google v. Oracle Copyright Suit

The United States Supreme Court has just granted review of the Google v. Oracle Copyright law suit.  This is a huge case concerning copyrightability and the scope of fair use of software.  Additional information, including briefs, can be found at the SCOTUS blog, here.  Hat tip to Dmitry Karshtedt.  

Saturday, 9 November 2019

US State of Wyoming Ready to Charter "Blockchain" Banks


US State of Wyoming enacted a law concerning the creation of special purpose depository institutions which concern digital assets.  The legislature’s findings in the new law state: 


(a) The legislature finds the following: 

(i) The rapid innovation of blockchain technology, including the growing use of virtual currency and other digital assets, has resulted in many blockchain innovators being unable to access secure and reliable banking services, hampering development of blockchain services and products in the marketplace; 

(ii) Federally insured financial institutions are not generally permitted to manage accounts in virtual currency or hold other digital assets; 

(iii) Blockchain innovators have greater compliance challenges with federal customer identification, anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership because of the complex nature of these obligations and the unfamiliarity of regulators with blockchain innovators' businesses;

(iv) These intricate obligations have resulted in many financial institutions in Wyoming and across the United States refusing to provide banking services to blockchain innovators and also refusing to accept deposits in United States currency obtained from the sale of virtual currency or other digital assets; 

(v) Compliance with applicable federal and state laws is critical to ensuring the future growth and reputation of the blockchain and technology industries as a whole; 

(vi) Most financial institutions today do not have the requisite expertise or familiarity with the challenges facing blockchain innovators which is required to provide secure and reliable banking services to these innovators; 

(vii) A new type of Wyoming financial institution that has expertise with customer identification, anti-money laundering and beneficial ownership requirements could seamlessly integrate these requirements into its operating model; and

(viii) Authorizing special purpose depository institutions to be chartered in Wyoming will provide a necessary and valuable service to blockchain innovators, emphasize Wyoming's partnership with the technology and financial industry and safely grow this state's developing financial sector.

The full bill is available, here.  More information concerning the law is available, here

Friday, 1 November 2019




OxFirst’s 4th Symposium on IP and Competition suggests views on FRAND licensing are far from converging

 

On October 18, IP economic consultancy OxFirst held its 4th Symposium on Globalization and fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing of Standard Essential Patents (SEPs). Academics, judges and policy makers convened at St Cross College of Oxford University to debate FRAND licensing rates, terms and conditions. The symposium, which was chaired by Judge Fabian Hoffmann of the German Federal Court, offered arguments from both legal and economics perspectives.

First the economics: FRAND licensing disputes are on the rise. Compared to non-SEP disputes, patent families containing SEPs were 6.4 times more likely to be exposed to infringement actions than non-SEPs. At the same time, SEPs are also 9.5 times more exposed to validity challenges than non-SEPs.

Of particular interest is the strong involvement of non-practicing entities (NPEs) in FRAND disputes. The data presented showed that in the US, 77.5% of SEP infringement and validity actions involved NPEs.  In Europe that same figure amounted to 43.9%.

As to the role of NPEs in the innovation eco-system, research sponsored by the French public authorities showed that NPEs do not necessarily foster the diffusion of innovation. Rather, they can have the opposite effect. Professors Valerio Sterzi of the University of Bordeaux and Gianluca Orsatti of the University of Turin used forward patent citations as a proxy for a technology’s use. They found that patents passed on to NPEs see systematic falls in forward citations. Their suggestion is that patents held by NPEs lead market participants to seek to stay away from such IP -- an insight that is intuitive, but now has the data to back it.

Legal scholarship presented at the conference discussed extraterritorial constraints. The pros and cons of anti-suit injunctions and global FRAND licensing rates were addressed. Particular attention was paid to issues such as forum shopping, controlling the costs of litigation, and the relationship of such acts to the sovereignty of other nations. The effects that setting a global FRAND licensing rate can have on licensing negotiations were addressed by Roya Ghafele. Ghafele presented arguments that underline the need to set a balance between the interests of the licensor and the licensee.

The symposium concluded with an outlook on possible solutions to the FRAND licensing challenge. That there is a need to come to grips with the licensing of SEPs was undisputed. After all, the Internet of Things thrives on interconnectivity; and standards will continue to play an instrumental role in establishing such interconnectivity. The experts invited were far from having a conclusive, let alone homogenous, view on the topic.

Should regional institutions be established to resolve the issues at stake? Should the global community at least strive to achieve a minimal understanding of what terms and conditions a FRAND licensing agreement should entail? Or should the issue be solved by simply enlightening the market on how to calculate FRAND royalty rates? 

The conference concluded with an outlook on what is clearly the most pressing issue in this matter. Namely, how to manage an increasingly international economic order under the parameters set by a territorially limited patent system.



Thursday, 31 October 2019

US Collegiate Athletes may Profit from Name, Image and Likeness


The National Collegiate Athletics Association, an organization which essentially regulates collegiate athletics in the United States, has voted to begin the process of allowing student athletes to profit from the use of their name, image and likeness.  This vote was made in light of California’s recent decision to allow collegiate student athletes to be paid for playing.  Historically, collegiate student athletes were prohibited from receiving payment.  The NCAA press release states: 


Board of Governors starts process to enhance name, image and likeness opportunities

Each NCAA division directed to immediately consider modernization of bylaws and policies

October 29, 2019 1:08pm

In the Association’s continuing efforts to support college athletes, the NCAA’s top governing board voted unanimously to permit students participating in athletics the opportunity to benefit from the use of their name, image and likeness in a manner consistent with the collegiate model.

The Board of Governors’ action directs each of the NCAA’s three divisions to immediately consider updates to relevant bylaws and policies for the 21st century, said Michael V. Drake, chair of the board and president of The Ohio State University.

“We must embrace change to provide the best possible experience for college athletes,” Drake said. “Additional flexibility in this area can and must continue to support college sports as a part of higher education. This modernization for the future is a natural extension of the numerous steps NCAA members have taken in recent years to improve support for student-athletes, including full cost of attendance and guaranteed scholarships.”

Specifically, the board said modernization should occur within the following principles and guidelines:  

  • Assure student-athletes are treated similarly to non-athlete students unless a compelling reason exists to differentiate. 
  • Maintain the priorities of education and the collegiate experience to provide opportunities for student-athlete success. 
  • Ensure rules are transparent, focused and enforceable and facilitate fair and balanced competition. 
  • Make clear the distinction between collegiate and professional opportunities. 
  • Make clear that compensation for athletics performance or participation is impermissible. 
  • Reaffirm that student-athletes are students first and not employees of the university. 
  • Enhance principles of diversity, inclusion and gender equity. 
  • Protect the recruiting environment and prohibit inducements to select, remain at, or transfer to a specific institution.

The board’s action was based on comprehensive recommendations from the NCAA Board of Governors Federal and State Legislation Working Group, which includes presidents, commissioners, athletics directors, administrators and student-athletes. The group gathered input over the past several months from numerous stakeholders, including current and former student-athletes, coaches, presidents, faculty and commissioners across all three divisions. The board also directed continued and productive engagement with legislators. 

The working group will continue to gather feedback through April on how best to respond to the state and federal legislative environment and to refine its recommendations on the principles and regulatory framework. The board asked each division to create any new rules beginning immediately, but no later than January 2021.

“As a national governing body, the NCAA is uniquely positioned to modify its rules to ensure fairness and a level playing field for student-athletes,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “The board’s action today creates a path to enhance opportunities for student-athletes while ensuring they compete against students and not professionals.”

Friday, 25 October 2019

OxFirst Webinar: FRAND injunctions - A summary of recent case law



by Joan Ng & Roya Ghafele. 

OxFirst’s latest webinar on Oct 24 featured Prof Dr Peter Georg Picht of the University of Zurich. Prof Picht highlighted several issues that have surfaced in recent cases dealing with injunctions pertaining to standard essential patents. He started off by using the overall Huawei vs ZTE framework to highlight under which conditions injunctions can and cannot be issued under CJEU case law. 

Ultimately, said the OxFirst speaker, all parties must behave in a proactive manner. This is the case even if the other party may be non-compliant at a particular point in time. Also, on the issue of conditional injunctions and FRAND injunctions in the UK, the OxFirst speaker noted that the UK has produced fewer SEP- and FRAND-related cases than Germany. Nevertheless, cases heard in the UK have been high profile ones, particularly when it comes to granting what has come to be known as a 'FRAND injunction.'

Particularly noteworthy, he said, was the case of Unwired Planet v Huawei ([2017] EWHC 711 (Pat)), in which the court allowed a conditional injunction only. This is important because it signifies that FRAND is not only about content but also about conduct. Parties should behave in a FRAND compliant manner. The injunction would be in force only if the implementer failed to agree to take a global FRAND licence set by the court, said the speaker. That case was however heard by the Supreme Court this week and its decision in this matter is to be expected in the next couple of months.

In addition, on the issue of anti-hold-out injunctions, the speaker noted the offer of a grace period in the case of TQ Delta v Zyxel Communications ([2019] EWHC 745 (Pat)). Rather than award an injunction immediately, there was the suggestion of a grace period for Zyxel to fulfil some necessary commitments.

Finally, on the issue of anti-suit and anti-anti-suit injunctions, the speaker recognized the complicated nature of case law given that multiple jurisdictions are involved. Prominent points were that it is important that parallel proceedings are not necessarily vexatious or oppressive, because there is some flexibility for such a judgement. But at the same time, it is important that the patentee is able to seek judicial help.

Broadly speaking, the OxFirst presenter pointed out that injunctions have gained relevance in SEP licensing negotiations over time, but that there is still no certainty on when and how injunctions will be granted. He sees, however, a tendency for courts to compete for patent cases, and a grant or refusal of injunctions is one of the points on which courts would tend to compete. The conflict between national case law and global patent law remains to be resolved.

 - The views expressed in this webinar are those of Professor Picht and cannot be attributed to OxFirst, its affiliates, staff, or consultants.-

Friday, 18 October 2019

Reducing Costs in the Fast-Changing Regulations of Foreign Direct Investment


I think this is a fascinating idea.  Latham & Watkins has released a free app that covers the regulations of several countries concerning foreign direct investment.  Here is the press release


Latham & Watkins LLP1 is pleased to announce the launch of the Foreign Direct Investment Regimes (FDI) app, an interactive tool designed to summarize key aspects of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and other foreign direct investment regimes around the world. The FDI app is available as a free download in the Apple App Store and Google Play that can be used on iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.

The Latham FDI app is organized by select countries around the world, including the US, Australia, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and the UK. After choosing a country, users can click through to read summaries of information pertinent to the respective jurisdiction, such as:

  • Legal authority responsible for foreign investment review
  • Mandatory filings
  • Voluntary filings
  • Timelines
  • Filing fees
  • Penalties
  • Definitions of key words and phrases

“Businesses looking at cross-border investments must consider and be prepared for national security reviews by the jurisdictions in which the business has or would have operations,” said Les Carnegie, a partner in Latham & Watkins’ Washington, D.C., office and co-leader of the firm’s CFIUS & US National Security Practice. “We are excited to launch this first-of-its-kind app that will bring enormous value to foreign investors around the world by summarizing information and procedures that have become increasingly fundamental to successfully executing cross-border transactions.”

Steven Croley, a partner in Latham & Watkins’ Washington, D.C., office and co-leader of the firm’s CFIUS & US National Security Practice, added, “Latham aims above all to provide exceptional service to our clients. We are therefore constantly looking for creative and innovative ways to address their most pressing business needs. Clients are increasingly focused on the growing prominence of regulatory programs and foreign investment review both in and outside the US, and our goal in developing the FDI app is to provide a summary that is quickly and easily accessible.”

“Evaluating and preparing for reviews by CFIUS and other foreign direct investment regimes has become a critical component to cross-border deal-making in today’s geopolitical environment,” said Luke Bergstrom, Global Vice Chair of Latham’s Mergers & Acquisitions Practice. “Latham’s CFIUS and national security lawyers are deeply experienced in helping clients navigate the CFIUS process and related agency reviews. This offering is part of the firm’s global, integrated approach to helping clients achieve market-leading transactional results.”

The Latham FDI app is the latest addition to a suite of information produced by the firm on the topic of CFIUS and other foreign direct investment regimes.

A summary and analysis of the US Department of Treasury’s recently-proposed regulations to implement changes that the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA) made to CFIUS’ jurisdiction and processes is available here. A comprehensive primer, “Key Questions Answered on CFIUS,” is also available here.

For additional resources and more information about Latham’s CFIUS & US National Security Practice, please visit lw.com/practices/CFIUS.

Improving the Allocation of Resources: Artificial Intelligence to Predict Future Clinical Success of Basic Research


In a new paper published on October 10, 2019 titled, “Predicting Translational Progress in Biomedical Research,” authors B. Ian Hutchins, Matthew T. Davis, Rebecca A. Meseroll, and George M. Santangelo describe a new way to use artificial intelligence to measure and predict which basic research type findings are likely to be translated into clinical advances.  The abstract states: 


Fundamental scientific advances can take decades to translate into improvements in human health. Shortening this interval would increase the rate at which scientific discoveries lead to successful treatment of human disease. One way to accomplish this would be to identify which advances in knowledge are most likely to translate into clinical research. Toward that end, we built a machine learning system that detects whether a paper is likely to be cited by a future clinical trial or guideline. Despite the noisiness of citation dynamics, as little as 2 years of postpublication data yield accurate predictions about a paper’s eventual citation by a clinical article (accuracy = 84%, F1 score = 0.56; compared to 19% accuracy by chance). We found that distinct knowledge flow trajectories are linked to papers that either succeed or fail to influence clinical research. Translational progress in biomedicine can therefore be assessed and predicted in real time based on information conveyed by the scientific community’s early reaction to a paper.

The full paper is available, here.  This appears to have the promise of mitigating some significant investment risk.