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Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2013

July 3, 2014 Comments off

Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2013 (PDF)
Source: National Academy of Inventors and Intellectual Property Owners Association

The National Academy of Inventors (NAI) and the Intellectual Property Owners Association (IPO) today announced the Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2013. The list, based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, recognizes the important role patents play in university research.

The NAI and IPO compile the list each year by calculating the number of utility patents granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office which list a university as the first assignee on the printed patent.

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Top 300 Organizations Granted U.S. Patents in 2013

July 3, 2014 Comments off

Top 300 Organizations Granted U.S. Patents in 2013 (PDF)
Source: Intellectual Property Owners Association

This list of organizations that received the most U.S. utility patents is being published by IPO for the 31st consecutive year. It is based on data obtained from the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Patents granted to parent and subsidiary companies are combined in many instances. See the end notes for more information. IPO makes reasonable efforts to avoid errors, but cannot guarantee accuracy.

The Effect of Patent Litigation and Patent Assertion Entities on Entrepreneurial Activity

June 27, 2014 Comments off

The Effect of Patent Litigation and Patent Assertion Entities on Entrepreneurial Activity
Source: Social Science Research Network

This paper empirically investigates the statistical relation between levels of patent litigation and venture capital (“VC”) investment in the U.S. We find that VC investment, a major funding source for entrepreneurial activity, initially increases with the number of litigated patents, but that there is a “tipping point” where further increases in the number of patents litigated are associated with decreased VC investment, which suggests an inverted U-shaped relation between patent litigation and VC investment. This appears strongest for technology patents, and negligible for products such as pharmaceuticals. There is some evidence of a similar inverted U-shaped relation between patent litigation and the creation of new small firms. Strikingly, we find evidence that litigation by frequent patent litigators, a proxy for PAE litigation, is directly associated with decreased VC investment with no positive effects initially.

Hat tip: ResearchBuzz.

Just Released — Supreme Court decision — American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc.

June 25, 2014 Comments off

American Broadcasting Cos. v. Aereo, Inc.
Source: U.S. Supreme Court

The Copyright Act of 1976 gives a copyright owner the “exclusive righ[t]” to “perform the copyrighted work publicly.” 17 U. S. C. §106(4). The Act’s Transmit Clause defines that exclusive right to include the right to “transmit or otherwise communicate a performance . . . of the [copyrighted] work . . . to the public, by means of any deviceor process, whether the members of the public capable of receiving the performance . . . receive it in the same place or in separate places and at the same time or at different times.” §101.

Respondent Aereo, Inc., sells a service that allows its subscribers towatch television programs over the Internet at about the same timeas the programs are broadcast over the air. When a subscriber wants to watch a show that is currently airing, he selects the show from a menu on Aereo’s website. Aereo’s system, which consists of thousands of small antennas and other equipment housed in a centralized warehouse, responds roughly as follows: A server tunes an antenna, which is dedicated to the use of one subscriber alone, to the broadcast carrying the selected show. A transcoder translates the signals received by the antenna into data that can be transmitted over the Internet. A server saves the data in a subscriber-specific folder onAereo’s hard drive and begins streaming the show to the subscriber’sscreen once several seconds of programming have been saved. The streaming continues, a few seconds behind the over-the-air broadcast, until the subscriber has received the entire show.

Petitioners, who are television producers, marketers, distributors,and broadcasters that own the copyrights in many of the programs that Aereo streams, sued Aereo for copyright infringement. Theysought a preliminary injunction, arguing that Aereo was infringing their right to “perform” their copyrighted works “publicly.” The District Court denied the preliminary injunction, and the Second Circuit affirmed.

Held: Aereo performs petitioners’ works publicly within the meaning of the Transmit Clause. Pp. 4–18.

Do Resources Flow to Patenting Firms? Cross-Country Evidence from Firm Level Data

June 19, 2014 Comments off

Do Resources Flow to Patenting Firms? Cross-Country Evidence from Firm Level Data
Source: OECD

This paper exploits longitudinal data on firm performance and patenting activity for 23 OECD countries over the period 2003-2010 to explore the extent to which changes in the patent stock are associated with flows of capital and labour to patenting firms. While the finding that patenting is associated with real changes in economic activity at the firm level is in line with recent literature, new empirical evidence presented suggests that the impact of patenting on firm size is likely to be causal. Moreover, these data reveal important differences across OECD countries in the extent to which innovative firms can attract the complementary tangible resources that are required to implement and commercialise new ideas. In turn, the contribution of framework policies to explaining the observed cross-country differences in the magnitude of these flows is explored. While further research is required to establish causality, the results are consistent with the idea that well-functioning product, labour and capital markets; efficient judicial systems and bankruptcy laws that do not overly penalise failure can raise the returns to innovative activity. The paper also investigates the heterogeneous impacts of policies and finds that young firms – which are more likely to experiment with disruptive technologies and rely on external financing to implement and commercialise their ideas – disproportionately benefit from reforms to labour markets and more developed markets for credit and seed and early stage finance.

Trademark Trial and Appeal Board order — Washington Redskins case

June 19, 2014 Comments off

Trademark Trial and Appeal Board order — Washington Redskins case
Source: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office

Petitioners, five Native Americans, have brought this cancellation proceeding pursuant to Section 14 of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. § 1064(c). They seek to cancel respondent’s registrations issued between 1967 and 1990 for trademarks consisting in whole or in part of the term REDSKINS for professional football-related services on the ground that the registrations were obtained contrary to Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a), which prohibits registration of marks that may disparage persons or bring them into contempt or disrepute. In its answer, defendant, Pro-Football, Inc., asserted various affirmative defenses including laches.

As explained below, we decide, based on the evidence properly before us, that these registrations must be cancelled because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, in violation of Section 2(a) of the Trademark Act of 1946, 15 U.S.C. § 1052(a). This decision concerns only the statutory right to registration under Section 2(a). We lack statutory authority to issue rulings concerning the right to use trademarks. See, e.g., In re Franklin Press, Inc., 597 F.2d 270, 201 USPQ 662, 664 (CCPA 1979).

+ All relevant documents

CRS — Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues (updated)

June 5, 2014 Comments off

Internet Domain Names: Background and Policy Issues (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via Federation of American Scientists)

Navigating the Internet requires using addresses and corresponding names that identify the location of individual computers. The Domain Name System (DNS) is the distributed set of databases residing in computers around the world that contain address numbers mapped to corresponding domain names, making it possible to send and receive messages and to access information from computers anywhere on the Internet. Many of the technical, operational, and management decisions regarding the DNS can have significant impacts on Internet-related policy issues such as intellectual property, privacy, Internet freedom, e-commerce, and cybersecurity.

See also: Internet Governance and the Domain Name System: Issues for Congress (PDF)

Healing Medical Product Innovation

May 28, 2014 Comments off

Healing Medical Product Innovation
Source: RAND Corporation

No matter how it’s tallied—in total, per capita, or as a percentage of gross domestic product—U.S. spending on health care outstrips that of any other nation. Many experts identify costly new technology as the biggest driver of health care spending. Previous studies aimed at reining in spending on technology have focused on changing how existing medical technologies are used. But what about also encouraging the creation of technologies that could improve health and reduce spending, or that provide large-enough health benefits to warrant any extra spending? A recent RAND study focused on policies that could help change which medical products—drugs, devices, and health information technologies—get invented in the first place.

To spur inventors to create medical products that lower health care spending and promote health, policymakers need to address the perverse financial incentives that lead inventors and investors in the opposite direction. Currently, large profits are most often available from creating increasingly expensive products that boost spending, whether or not they also substantially improve health. In contrast, inventors face relatively weak incentives to create products that would help decrease spending.

The RAND research team developed ten high-priority policy options that could change the costs, rewards, and risks that inventors and investors face. We synthesized information from scientific, trade, and popular literature; conducted interviews with more than 50 national experts from a variety of fields; sought input from a panel of accomplished technical advisors; and developed illustrative case studies of eight medical products.

German Jewish Émigrés and U.S. Invention

May 26, 2014 Comments off

German Jewish Émigrés and U.S. Invention (PDF)
Source: Cato Institute

Immigration policy has been the subject of heated debate in the United States. Much of the controversy surrounds low-skill immigration, but high-skill immigration policy is also contentious. One key claim in support of high-skill immigration is that it spurs innovation, but existing evidence is mixed (Hunt and Gauthier-Loiselle 2010, Kerr and Lincoln 2010, and Borjas and Doran 2012).

Our research provides new evidence on this question by examining the impact on innovation of German Jewish scientists who fled from Nazi Germany to the United States after 1932. Historical accounts suggest that these émigrés revolutionized U.S. innovation. In physics, for example, émigrés such as Leo Szilard, Eugene Wigner, Edward Teller, John von Neumann, and Hans Bethe formed the core of the Manhattan project that developed the atomic bomb. In chemistry, émigrés such as Otto Meyerhof (Nobel Prize 1922), Otto Stern (Nobel Prize 1943), Otto Loewi (Nobel Prize 1936), Max Bergmann, Carl Neuberg, and Kasimir Fajans “soon effected hardly less than a revolution. . . . Their work . . . almost immediately propelled the United States to world leadership in the chemistry of life” (Sachar 1992, p. 749).

Alternative accounts, however, suggest that émigrés’ contributions may have been limited due to administrative hurdles and antisemitism. Jewish scientists met with a “Kafkaesque gridlock of seeking affidavits from relatives in America [and] visas from less-than-friendly United States consuls” (Sachar 1992, p. 495). Once they were in the United States, a rising wave of antisemitism made it difficult for these scientists to find employment; in “the hungry 1930s, antisemitism was a fact of life among American universities as in other sectors of the U.S. economy” (Sachar 1992, p. 498).

Our paper presents a systematic empirical analysis of how German Jewish émigrés affected U.S. innovation. Taking advantage of the fact that patents are a good measure of innovation in chemistry, because chemical innovations are exceptionally suitable to patent protection (e.g., Cohen, Nelson, and Walsh 2002; Moser 2012), we focus on changes in chemical inventions. By comparison, the contributions of émigré physicists (including those who worked on the Manhattan Project) are difficult to capture empirically because they produced knowledge that was often classified and rarely patented.

Guarding against abuse: Restoring constitutional copyright

May 15, 2014 Comments off

Guarding against abuse: Restoring constitutional copyright
Source: R Street Institute

Copyrights are intended to encourage creative works through the mechanism of a statutorily created limited property right. Under both economic and legal analysis, they are recognized as a form of government-granted monopoly.

Economic efficiency and constitutional law both suggest copyrights should serve to solve potential market failures, to “promote the progress of the sciences.” In examining how long the specific terms for copyright and patent should be, Milton Friedman deemed the subject a matter of “expediency” to be determined by “practical considerations.” Friedrich Hayek, among the most forceful defenders of the importance of property rights, distinguished copyright from traditional property rights and identified a number of problems with modern copyright that he said called for “drastic reforms.” The conservative movement, which largely has supported originalist methods of interpreting the Constitution, traditionally has been in favor of copyright reform, with proposals usually including shorter copyright terms.

Historically, copyright terms have been quite short. As required by Article 1, Section 8, Clause 8 of the U.S. Constitution, copyright can only be granted for “limited times.” Evidence from the Founding Era suggests this limited duration was central to the original public meaning of the instrument, as evident in this definition from an 1803 British legal dictionary:

COPY-RIGHT [sic], the exclusive right of printing and publishing copies of any literary performance, for a limited time.

The framers incorporated a modified version of the British legal system of copyright, first into state laws; then, in the specific language that appears in the Constitution; and finally, in the federal statute adopted in 1790. The Copyright Clause limited the duration of both copyright and patents, and when the founders wrote “limited times,” that limitation historically had been for 14 years.

That original U.S. statute created a 14-year term, with the option of a 14-year extension if the author was still alive. Until 1976, the average copyright term was 32.2 years. Today, the U.S. copyright term is the life of the author, plus 70 years.

By contrast, patent terms have changed very little. Today’s term for utility patents is either 17 years from patent issuance or 20 years from patent filing, whichever is longer. (The term for design patents, which resemble copyrights in some key respects, is still the original 14 years.) As legal historian Edward Walterscheid puts it, while patents and copyrights were included in the same clause of the Constitution and originally had the same or similar durations, the patent term has increased by just 43 percent while the copyright term has increased by almost 580 percent. Congress must justify why a 20-year term can provide sufficient incentive to inventors, but not to writers and artists.

Redirecting Innovation in U.S. Health Care — Options to Decrease Spending and Increase Value

May 6, 2014 Comments off

Redirecting Innovation in U.S. Health Care — Options to Decrease Spending and Increase Value
Source: RAND Corporation

New medical technologies are a leading driver of U.S. health care spending. This report identifies promising policy options to change which medical technologies are created, with two related policy goals: (1) Reduce total health care spending with the smallest possible loss of health benefits, and (2) ensure that new medical products that increase spending are accompanied by health benefits that are worth the spending increases. The analysis synthesized information from peer-reviewed and other literature, a panel of technical advisors convened for the project, and 50 one-on-one expert interviews. The authors also conducted case studies of eight medical products. The following features of the U.S. health care environment tend to increase spending without also conferring major health benefits: lack of basic scientific knowledge about some disease processes, costs and risks of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, limited rewards for medical products that could lower spending, treatment creep, and the medical arms race.

The authors identified ten policy options that would help advance the two policy goals. Five would do so by reducing the costs and/or risks of invention and obtaining FDA approval: (1) Enable more creativity in funding basic science, (2) offer prizes for inventions, (3) buy out patents, (4) establish a public-interest investment fund, and (5) expedite FDA reviews and approvals. The other five options would do so by increasing market rewards for products: (1) Reform Medicare payment policies, (2) reform Medicare coverage policies, (3) coordinate FDA approval and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services coverage processes, (4) increase demand for technologies that decrease spending, and (5) produce more and more-timely technology assessments.

Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement

May 2, 2014 Comments off

Changing the academic culture: Valuing patents and commercialization toward tenure and career advancement (PDF)
Source: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

There is national and international recognition of the importance of innovation, technology transfer, and entrepreneurship for sustained economic revival. With the decline of industrial research laboratories in the United States, research universities are being asked to play a central role in our knowledge-centered economy by the technology transfer of their discoveries, innovations, and inventions. In response to this challenge, innovation ecologies at and around universities are starting to change. However, the change has been slow and limited. The authors believe this can be attributed partially to a lack of change in incentives for the central stakeholder, the faculty member. The authors have taken the position that universities should expand their criteria to treat patents, licensing, and commercialization activity by faculty as an important consideration for merit, tenure, and career advancement, along with publishing, teaching, and service. This position is placed in a historical context with a look at the history of tenure in the United States, patents, and licensing at universities, the current status of university tenure and career advancement processes, and models for the future.

Copyright Terms in Online Creative Communities

April 30, 2014 Comments off

Copyright Terms in Online Creative Communities (PDF)
Source: Georgia Institute of Technology

A key usability problem for websites is the complexity of their terms and conditions. Within the HCI community, attention to this issue to date has primarily focused on privacy policies. We begin to build on this work, extending it to copyright terms. With so many people posting everything from status updates to digital art online, intellectual property rights are increasingly important to the end user. We conducted a content analysis of 30 different websites where users can share creative work, focusing on the licenses and usage rights that users grant to those websites. Due to difficult readability, legalese, and a lack of plain language explanations, it is likely that users may not know what rights they are granting. Next steps include a user survey to determine whether this is the case, and further exploration of the impact on usability.

Bio-Piracy or Prospering Together? Fuzzy Set and Qualitative Analysis of Herbal Patenting by Firms

April 23, 2014 Comments off

Bio-Piracy or Prospering Together? Fuzzy Set and Qualitative Analysis of Herbal Patenting by Firms (PDF)
Source: Harvard Business Working Papers

Since the 1990s, several western firms have filed patents based on medicinal herbs from emerging markets, evoking protests from local stakeholders against ‘bio-piracy’. We explore conditions under which firms and local stakeholders share rents from such patents. Our theoretical model builds on two distinct strategy literatures: firms appropriating rents from new technologies and firms managing stakeholders. We predict that a win-win outcome emerges when the patent strength is moderate and when local stakeholders form a coalition with larger national stakeholders to initiate litigation against the focal firm. We test our predictions using a two-pronged empirical strategy. Our empirical context relates to herbal patents from emerging markets and given that we have a small sample (N=17), we employ a fuzzy set QCA methodology. In addition, we develop four in-depth qualitative case studies to support our predictions.

The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals

April 18, 2014 Comments off

The Legal Needs of Emerging Online Media: The Online Media Legal Network after 500 Referrals
Source: Digital Media Law Project

Since December 2009, the DMLP has operated the Online Media Legal Network, a free attorney referral service for independent, online journalists and journalism organizations. The OMLN has served as a fundamental part of the legal support structure for online journalism, assisting more than 260 clients with over 500 separate legal matters.

As a result of that experience, the DMLP has been in a unique position to observe the nature of these new journalism ventures and their legal needs. This report collects these observations, including the following:

  • Those who have sought help from the OMLN overwhelmingly create their own original content, rather than aggregate the content of others. Many also provide support services to other journalists, platforms for users to talk to one another, or tools to access primary source information.
  • While some clients report on niche issues, many more are focused on reporting news of general interest, either to the public at large or local audiences. Non-profit clients show a greater focus on reporting on social issues such as health and education than for-profit or individual clients.
  • OMLN clients show significant evidence of forward planning. They are more often proactive than reactive to legal issues, frequently seeking assistance with intellectual property, content liability, and corporate questions before crises occur.
  • Individual clients not employed by an organization, and those clients who reported on businesses or to consumer audiences, sought help defending against legal threats more often than other clients. This indicates a particular need for greater litigation assistance among these categories.
  • The advice sought by OMLN clients with regard to intellectual property matters shows a near-perfect balance between protecting their own content and using the content of others.

The State of the Discordant Union: An Empirical Analysis of DMCA Takedown Notices

April 10, 2014 Comments off

The State of the Discordant Union: An Empirical Analysis of DMCA Takedown Notices
Source: Virginia Journal of Law and Technology, Forthcoming (via SSRN)

By conducting a census on half-a-million takedown notices and more than 50 million takedown requests in its datasets, this paper takes a detailed and systematic look at the state of the takedown process from an empirical perspective. It examines the use and issuance of takedown notices by copyright owners and reporters and the response of service providers to them. It further studies the relationship between the notices and requests and safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and identifies ways in which the takedown process can be further improved to preserve the diversity and freedom of the Internet.

IP in a World Without Scarcity

April 10, 2014 Comments off

IP in a World Without Scarcity
Source: Social Science Research Network

Things are valuable because they are scarce. The more abundant they become, they cheaper they become. But a series of technological changes is underway that promises to end scarcity as we know it for a wide variety of goods. The Internet is the most obvious example, because the change there is furthest along. The Internet has reduced the cost of production and distribution of informational content effectively to zero. In many cases it has also dramatically reduced the cost of producing that content. And it has changed the way in which information is distributed, separating the creators of content from the distributors.

More recently, new technologies promise to do for a variety of physical goods and even services what the Internet has already done for information. 3D printers can manufacture physical goods based on any digital design. Synthetic biology has automated the manufacture not just of copies of existing genetic sequences but any custom-made gene sequence, allowing anyone who want to create a gene sequence of their own to upload the sequence to a company that will “print” it using the basic building blocks of genetics. And advances in robotics offer the prospect that many of the services humans now provide can be provided free of charge by general-purpose machines that can be programmed to perform a variety of complex functions. While none of these technologies are nearly as far along as the Internet, they share two essential characteristics with the Internet: they radically reduce the cost of production and distribution of things, and they separate the informational content of those things (the design) from their manufacture. Combine these four developments – the Internet, 3D printing, robotics, and synthetic biology – and it is entirely plausible to envision a not-too-distant world in which most things that people want can be downloaded and created on site for very little money.

The role of IP in such a world is both controverted and critically important. IP rights are designed to artificially replicate scarcity where it would not otherwise exist. In its simplest form, IP law takes public goods that would otherwise be available to all and artificially restricts their distribution. It makes ideas scarce, because then we can bring them into the economy and charge for them, and economics knows how to deal with scarce things. So on one view – the classical view of IP law – a world in which all the value resides in information is a world in which we need IP everywhere, controlling rights over everything, or no one will get paid to create. That has been the response of IP law to the Internet so far.

Return Migration and Geography of Innovation in MNEs: A Natural Experiment of On-the-Job Learning of Knowledge Production by Local Workers Reporting to Return Migrants

March 20, 2014 Comments off

Return Migration and Geography of Innovation in MNEs: A Natural Experiment of On-the-Job Learning of Knowledge Production by Local Workers Reporting to Return Migrants
Source: Harvard Business School Working Papers

I study whether return migrants and their direct reports facilitate knowledge production and transfer across borders for multinationals. Using unique personnel and patenting data for 1,315 inventors at an emerging market R&D center for a Fortune 50 technology firm, I exploit a natural experiment where the assignment of managers for newly hired college graduates is mandated by rigid HR rules and is uncorrelated to observable characteristics of the graduates. Given this assignment protocol, I find that local employees who report to return migrants file disproportionately more US patents. I also find evidence that return migration facilitates knowledge transfer across borders.

Software Piracy: A Critical Survey of the Theoretical and Empirical Literature

March 19, 2014 Comments off

Software Piracy: A Critical Survey of the Theoretical and Empirical Literature (PDF)
Source: Research Papers in Economics

As devices that used software became available to the masses the problem of software piracy arose. Recent theoretical works modeled the software piracy phenomenon; others tried to empirically explain the determinants that can explain this phenomenon. Empirical literature in the latter case is still in its infancy. This chapter reviews the theoretical literature focusing on three major models, those that deal with diffusion models, network externalities and with game theory. It also presents the empirical literature in which we identify eight stylized results that reflect key variables across five macroeconomic dimensions that explain software piracy: Economic, Cultural, Technological, Legal and Educational dimensions.

Copyright, Permissions and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities

March 17, 2014 Comments off

Copyright, Permissions and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities (PDF)
Source: College Art Association
From press release:

CAA is pleased to announce the publication of Copyright, Permissions and Fair Use among Visual Artists and the Academic and Museum Visual Arts Communities: An Issues Report. Endorsed by CAA’s Board of Directors on January 24, 2014, the report is now available on CAA’s website (here) and will also be distributed in printed form at the upcoming Annual Conference in Chicago.  The report was written by Patricia Aufderheide and Peter Jaszi, professors of communications and law, respectively, at American University; and graduate fellows Bryan Bello and Tijana Milosevic.  Aufderheide and Jaszi are the project’s lead researchers and two of its principal investigators. Their report summarizes 100 interviews of art historians, artists, museum curators, editors and publishers describing issues related to the use of third-party images in creative and scholarly work. The research was further informed by a CAA membership survey on fair use and a review of relevant literature and legal precedents.

This issues report reveals a situation in which uncertainty about copyright law and the availability of fair use, particularly in the digital era, has made many practitioners risk-averse, too often abandoning or distorting projects due to real or perceived challenges in using copyrighted materials. The report was read by the project’s Principal Investigators, Project Advisors, and members of the CAA Task Force on Fair Use, its Committee on Intellectual Property, and a Community Practices Advisory Committee. A full list of these individuals appears as an appendix in the report.

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