Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Francis Gurry Appointed as WIPO Director General

The General Assembly of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) appointed by acclamation on September 22, 2008, Mr. Francis Gurry, a national of Australia, as Director General of WIPO for a six-year term that begins on October 1, 2008 and runs through September 2014. In his acceptance speech, Mr. Gurry addressed the challenge of finding an effective response to the growing demand for patent services around the world, as well as the need to examine the future of copyright in a rapidly evolving business and technological environment. He also identified the challenge of promoting respect for intellectual property rights in the face of widespread trade in counterfeit and pirated goods and WIPO’s role in this endeavor. Mr. Gurry committed to build on the work of the Development Agenda, to ensure all countries were in a position to actively participate in the benefits of innovation and the knowledge economy. The Director General-elect further called for “concrete outcomes” to negotiations relating to the protection of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions.

Mr. Gurry is the fourth Director General of WIPO following Mr. Georg Bodenhausen of the Netherlands (1970-1973) Mr. Arpad Bogsch of the United States (1973-1997) and Dr. Kamil Idris of Sudan (1997-2008).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Munchy’s does Malaysia proud

THE popularity of MUNCHY’S has seen the Malaysian snack being munched in more than 50 countries around the world. The business, run by five brothers, started with just a wafer stick machine in 1991.

“Munchy’s brand mission is to produce all kinds of fun-eating snacks for every home all over the world,” said chief executive officer C.K. Tan. “We are trying to use Malaysia as a base and build Munchy’s into a world brand, instead of seeing more foreign brands coming into our country.”

Tan and his brothers have gone through tough times in bringing up the brand, especially in 1996 when the local market was saturated with many other big brands.

“It took us about 10 years to grow Munchy’s into one of the top brands in Malaysia. Now our mission and vision in the next 10 years is to grow Munchy’s into a world brand,” Tan said.

“We will allocate more funds into marketing to grow each overseas market in a big way in the next 10 years.”

Tan, who foresaw the importance of branding after he joined the company in 1994, started a re-branding exercise in 2002. The company promptly brought in top branding consultants, who re-designed the logo with the distinctive colours of Munchy’s red and white.

“Munchy’s brand value is to bring fun into people’s lives and this has been our main focus for the past six years. Munchy’s is a very catchy name. It comes from the word munch. Our brand is very lively as you can see from our product packaging,” Tan said.

He added that a lot of innovation went into the design and packaging of Munchy’s products.

“I believe everything starts from the product. You have to have a very good product and ...we put a lot of innovative ideas into designing the products from the packaging to brand image, the shape and weight of the products, basically from all aspects,” he said.

The Tan brothers believe in continuous product development.

“We spend three years to innovate a product and keep modifying the quality and packaging. Until today, we still keep thinking on how to make the existing products better. It took us more than 10 years to make Munchy’s Lexus the most saleable biscuit sandwich product in Malaysia,” Tan said. - The Star

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Similar Mark

Our trademark act aims to protect trademark owners from competitors who use a similar mark. What is a similar mark? Allow me to give an example of a recent case between Starbucks and Shanghai Xingbake Cafe.

Starbucks is a well known coffee brand. The Starbucks trademark was registered in China in 1996. Starbucks operated in Beijing, China since 1999. Xingbake operated in Shanghai since 2000. The word 'Xing' means 'star' in Chinese and 'bake' is verbally similar to bucks. The logo for Xingbake shares the same green as Starbucks.

Starbucks sued Xingbake for using a similar mark and imitating the design of its cafe. A Shanghai court fined Shanghai Xingbake Cafe, 500,000 yuan, and has ordered it to change its name because it’s too similar to Starbucks.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Astro won’t renew trademark accord with Lippo

Astro All Asia Networks Plc will not renew its trademark licence agreement, which expired on Aug 31, with Lippo group’s PT Direct Vision (PTDV), an Indonesian pay-TV provider, after a long and publicised tussle.

In a statement to Bursa Malaysia yesterday, Astro said it had decided to withdraw all support and services provided to Lippo, including the use of the “Astro Nusantara” brand.

The termination notice was issued after Lippo failed to settle the outstanding invoices amounting to RM805mil for Astro’s support and services. It had required Lippo to make the full payment by Sept 1, failing which Astro had the right to terminate the agreement.

However, out of good faith, Astro has granted further extension of the trademark licence agreement to Sept 30 to enable PTDV to make alternative arrangements to minimise the impact on its customers.

Astro has been funding PTDV RM20mil a month to run its services. It confirmed that all expenses incurred in PTDV had been accounted for and it expected to write down an additional RM200mil if it broke ties with Lippo.

Astro is committed to retain its position as a supplier of TV channels, channel content and broadcast services to the pay-TV sector in Indonesia.

Three years ago, Astro and Lippo entered into an agreement to become joint-venture partners with 51% and 49% share respectively.

Although subsequently the Indonesia Government changed broadcasting rules which limited foreign equity participation to 20%, PTDV had received approval to operate under its existing licence and approvals while the application for new broadcasting licence was being processed. This scenario led to Astro allowing PTDV to use the “Astro Nusantara” brand name.

Based on their earlier principle term agreement, Astro believed that any outstanding details would be discussed in good faith and the revised joint-venture agreement that complied with new regulation could be reached.

Nevertheless, Lippo continued to delay and did not take any relevant action to conclude the joint venture.

In addition, it had suggested an unacceptable takeover of its interest by a third party, which triggered Astro to withdraw its commitment with Lippo.

As at April 30, Astro had invested RM536mil with Lippo. Meanwhile, Lippo had not contributed any capital in this venture and Astro had solely supported the funding.

Currently, PTDV’s pay-TV business has over 100,000 subscribers.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Congratulations USM!

I have a habit of collecting brochures from education fairs so that I can choose the best university to attend. Foreign universities are good at it but only one Malaysian university stand out, USM. There were pictures and detailed explanation of courses and student life in the campus. I made USM as my top and second choice and I got my first choice granted, applied physics in USM.

When I finished my undergraduate, I look around for any viable postgraduate course. I'm fortunate to be offered a scholarship by USM to pursue a masters degree in physics via research. The postgraduate education instilled a 'search for technical issue' foundation which I value much when I prepare patent applications for inventors.

Thank you USM. Congratulations to my alma matter for being awarded the apex university status.

USM named Apex universilty

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) was yesterday chosen for the Accelerated Programme for Excellence (Apex), beating three other universities, including the country's oldest, the University of Malaya (UM).

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin told a press conference that USM was selected based on the university's transformation plan and its preparedness to make changes to its proposal paper.

"The selection for the Apex programme is not only based on past achievements and excellence, but more on the planning for the future and whether the university is able to achieve a world-class status within the stipulated period of five years," he said when announcing USM's selection for the programme.

During the five-year period, USM must be able to put itself in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) list of world's Top 100 universities and among the Top 50 by 2020, he said.

He was confident that USM would be able to achieve world-class standard.

"Let's see how USM fares and then we will decide whether to choose another for the programme," he added.

Mohamed Khaled said USM's selection for the programme did not mean that other universities were sidelined. On the other hand, this should spur them to further improve their position, he said when asked why UM was not selected.

Nine public universities nationwide had submitted their application for the programme but only four -- USM, UM, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia -- were shortlisted.

USM's winning proposal paper is titled "Transforming Higher Education for a Sustainable Tomorrow". - The Sun

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Results of Angkasawan’s research work patented

The results of one of Malaysia’s five research work conducted at the International Space Station has been patented by other countries, which proves the country can make a significant contribution to the world in science and research.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said the results of protein crystallisation, a research headed by Prof Dr Raja Noor Zaliha Raja Abd Rahman of Universiti Putra Malaysia, have been patented not only by Malaysia but also in Europe, the United States and Japan.

“The findings on protein crystallisation are of industrial importance and we expect a lot of companies, including those dealing in pharmaceutical, food supplement and oleo-chemical, to benefit from this.

“This is certainly a milestone for Malaysia and it quashes the perception that Datuk Dr Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor was a space tourist,” Dr Ongkili told reporters yesterday after opening a workshop on micro-gravity sciences.

The results of the experiment show that crystals grown in micro gravity environment are superior to earth grown crystals. - The Star