Sunday, December 23, 2012

Viagra(R) Patent Invalidated in Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada has invalidated the patent for Viagra. The patent is invalidated because the claims do not point to the exact compound that induces penile erection in impotent males. The exact compound, sildenafil, is mentioned alongside with many others that did not achieve the desirable effect. By failing to describe the compound, the patent did not sufficiently describe the embodiment to achieve the desired effect.

Kodak Sells Patent to get Financing

Kodak is half way out of bankruptcy status by selling its patents to Intellectual Ventures for US$525 million. The sale enables Kodak to repay substantial amount of loan and secure new financing of US$793 million obtainable from Centerbridge Partners, L.P., GSO Capital Partners LP, UBS and JPMorgan Chase & Co, if Kodak can sell their patents for more than US$500 million. The US$525 milestone satisfies the preset financing terms. Initially, banks tried to auction the 1,100 patents. However, initial bids received were between US$150 to US$250 million, which were much below valuation of US$2.6 billion. The low bid forced Kodak to suspend the auction of the patent portfolio. By taking time to look for suitable buyers, Kodak manage to secure a better deal.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Proton acquires Petronas engine technology (117 patents for RM63 million)

A report by Bernama states that Proton has acquired all of Petronas’ engine technologies as well as the associated technology patents at a cost of RM63 million. The deal encompasses seven engine technologies as well as 117 technology patents.
The reports adds that the acquisition gives Proton immediate ownership of a family of normally-aspirated engines and turbocharged 2.0 litre engines, as well as a 2.2 litre turbocharged version to complement its existing Campro engine line-up, according to Proton chairman Datuk Seri Khamil Jamil.
“Proton and Petronas initiated the engine technology exploration in 1996. It is now time to take over from Petronas, since the company decided in 2010 to exit completely from all engine development activities,” he told reporters at the agreement signing.
The only Petronas-developed engine revealed to date is the E01e inline-four, 16-valve DOHC engine with variable valve timing, which is a normally-aspirated unit, so the mention of turbocharging could mean previously unrevealed tech.
Designed to be configurable in three displacements (1.8, 2.0 and 2.2 litres), the E01 first appeared in 1998 in a Proton Waja and a Satria GTI.
The original design target for the unit was 200 PS and 200 Nm of output as well as a 120 kg weight – when delivered, these benchmark numbers were surpassed, the rated output being 204.3 PS at 7,300 rpm and 203 Nm at 5,300 rpm, and the engine tipped the scales at 108.9 kg.
Commercially, the engine never made its way into series production Protons, despite an intention to do so. In 2005, it was reported that Nanjing Automobile would be using the Petronas E01 technology in its vehicle line-up. It was later mentioned that the unit was to be built in China. - Paultan

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Protecting Intangibles

WHEN formulating an idea to develop a product, you spend a great deal of time to conceptalise and finally create it. It would be a sad story if you didn’t take measures to protect it. Anything that’s the result of your mind’s creation is intellectual property (IP) and protecting it is a sure way to avoid one major business blunder that includes copyright issues which can lead to losses.

It’s more discernible for physical products, but intangible assets are also described as “property” because it can be owned, sold and transferred just like property. Thus, the IP owner has every right to prevent any unauthorised use or sale of his property. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), IP refers to innovation, inventions, literary and artistic works, images, designs and even phrases and names. These assets must have their own IP rights that include either copyrights, trademarks, patents and industrial design rights.

“Many people aren’t aware that they own intellectual property as they assume only big companies are the ones who safeguard their assets. But anything that is unique to the individual’s creation is already IP,” explained Malaysian Intellectual Property Association (MIPA) president Peter Desmond Wee Tian Peng.

There are serious ramifications if an individual fails to protect his IP. Some of these are theft and copying from others; loss of reputation (where someone may use your work and name for their own benefit but in inappropriate ways); a loss of income and a general devaluation of your assets because it has lost its uniqueness and innovative value due to replications and brand dilution.
With this in mind, MIPA aims to build a strong IP partnership and networking among all IP owners, users, practitioners and stakeholders as well as people in the IP business community.
“We see MIPA as a platform to work together with the IP industry and the government namely the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism and the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) to raise awareness in all IP related innovations and inventions: beginning from creation, management to commercialisation on a proactive basis,” said Wee at the association’s cocktail gathering and networking session between IP owners, users practitioners and stakeholders recently.

MIPA will also play a front-line role in announcing new laws or policies of the government to its members and the IP business community. “MIPA will focus on conducting IP valuation courses and training programmes. As one of the IP stakeholders for MyIPO, we’ll work hand in hand with the corporation in this aspect of IP valuation training exercises and see how to establish a board of valuers where to certify and appoint qualifying IP valuers. The association has already finalised its 2013 calendar of events that include annual conferences, workshop seminars and networking sessions.

It recently held its first workshop on “Managing your IP Assets” with IP practitioners. We’ve also appointed Fabulous Association Management Company, an as our partner for all our subsequent programmes. Fabulous AMC shares the same vision as us to increase interaction with the members and business community,” said Wee. - The Star

Global IP Filings Continue to Grow: Plant Variety Protection

Between 1995 and 2011, the number of plant variety applications7 worldwide increased from 10,000 to over 14,000. In 2011, they grew by 7.8% - the fastest growth since 2007. Growth in applications in Israel and the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) of the European Union (EU) accounted for 60% of the total growth in 2011.

The CPVO received the largest number of applications (3,184), followed by the offices of China (1,255), the US (1,139), Japan (1,126) and Ukraine (1,095). - WIPO

Global IP Filings Continue to Grow: Industrial Designs

Industrial design applications worldwide grew strongly over the last two years. In 2011, design filings increased by 16%, following 13.9% growth in 2010. This considerable growth was mostly due to strong growth in China. SIPO accounted for 90% of total growth from 2009 to 2011. The 775,700 industrial design applications filed worldwide in 2011 consisted of 691,200 resident and 84,500 non-resident applications.

Unlike patents, the list of top 20 offices includes 8 offices located in middle-income countries. China – a middle-income country – received the largest number of design applications (521,468) in 2011. Turkey, another middle-income country, received 41,218 filings, which is larger than the number of filings at the JPO or the USPTO. Between 2010 and 2011, the IP offices of China (23.8%), India (16.7%), Mexico (17.2%), Turkey (17.6%) and Ukraine (17.5%) each saw rapid growth in filings. -WIPO

Global IP Filings Continue to Grow: Trademarks

A record 4.2 million trademark applications were filed worldwide in 2011. Around 6.2 million classes were specified in these applications. Of the 6.2 million application class counts, residents accounted for 4.5 million and non-residents for 1.7 million.5

Applications grew by 13.3% in 2011, while application class counts saw a 9.6% increase. Rapid growth in filings in China has been the main contributor to growth in recent years. In 2011, China accounted for 61.8% of growth worldwide.

The majority of the top 20 offices saw growth in filings in 2011 (based on class count data), with China (31.2%), Brazil (21.6%), the United Kingdom (16.4%) and China Hong Kong, SAR (16.1%) recording the fastest growth. The IP office of India has also seen considerable increases over the past few years. In fact, India surpassed Japan in 2010 and the Republic of Korea in 2011.
German applicants filed more than 2.1 million equivalent applications worldwide in 2011.6

Residents of China (1.4 million), the US (1.3 million) and France (1.0 million) were the only three other origins to have filed more than a million applications each. The bulk of Chinese filings were filed domestically. In contrast, the majority of the applications originating in Germany, France and the US were filed abroad. - WIPO

Global IP Filings Continue to Grow, China Tops Global Patent Filings

A new WIPO report shows that while the global economy continued to underperform, intellectual property (IP) filings worldwide kept growing strongly in 2011. It also finds that China’s patent office became the largest in the world, as measured by the number of patent applications received. Before 2011, China already accounted for most filings of utility models (UMs), trademarks and industrial designs.1

World Intellectual Property Indicators 2012 shows that patent filings worldwide grew by 7.8% in 2011, exceeding 7% growth for the second year in a row. Similarly, UM, industrial design and trademark filings increased by 35%, 16% and 13.3%, respectively.

“Sustained growth in IP filings indicates that companies continue to innovate despite weak economic conditions. This is good news, as it lays the foundation for the world economy to generate growth and prosperity in the future,” said WIPO Director General Francis Gurry.

China’s State Intellectual Property Office (SIPO) overtook the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2011 to become the largest patent office in the world, after having surpassed the Japan Patent Office (JPO) in 2010. In the 100 years before 2011, only three patent offices – Germany, Japan and the United States - had occupied the position of largest office.

In the Report’s foreword, Mr. Gurry points out that “even though caution is required in directly comparing IP filing figures across countries, these trends nevertheless reflect how the geography of innovation has shifted.”

For the first time in 2011, the total number of patent applications filed worldwide exceeded the 2 million mark. The 2.14 million applications filed consisted of 1.36 million resident and 0.78 million non-resident applications. Following a drop of 3.6% in 2009, patent applications rebounded strongly in 2010 with growth of 7.5% and with 7.8% growth in 2011.

In 2011, China received 526,412 applications compared to 503,582 for the US and 342,610 for Japan. The growth in patent filings in China was mostly due to sharp growth in resident filings. Between 2009 and 2011, patent filings worldwide increased by 293,900. SIPO accounted for 72% of this increase.

The majority of the top 20 offices saw growth in patent fillings in 2011, with China (34.6%), China Hong Kong (SAR, 15.3%) and South Africa (13.5%) seeing double-digit growth. Filing behavior at offices of middle- and low-income countries show mixed trends.2 The offices of Algeria (11.3%), Madagascar (41.9%) and Saudi Arabia (6.3%) saw considerable growth in 2011, mainly due to growth in non-resident filings. In contrast, Guatemala (-13.1%), Jamaica (-27.6%) and Jordan (-15.6%) saw substantial filing declines.

Data by applicants’ country of origin show that residents of Japan filed the largest number of applications (472,417) across the world in 2011. China, which saw 41.3% growth in 2011, overtook the US to become the second largest country for origin counts.

The field of digital communication saw the highest average annual growth rate (+8.1%) between 2006 and 2010. Filings for pharmaceuticals have continuously declined since 2007.3 Computer technology accounted for the largest number of applications (126,897) filed worldwide.4
Patent applications for four energy-related technologies – fuel cells, geothermal, solar and wind energy - increased by 8% in 2010 to 34,873. Residents of Japan filed the largest number of applications relating to solar energy and fuel cell technologies, while residents of Germany and the US accounted for the largest numbers of applications relating to geothermal and wind energy, respectively.

In 2011, the estimated number of patents granted approached the 1 million mark, with 606,800 issued to residents and 390,000 to non-residents. Grants worldwide grew by 9.7% in 2011. The JPO (with 238,323) granted the largest number of patents, followed by the USPTO (224,505).
The number of potentially pending applications worldwide – defined as all unprocessed applications at any stage in the applications process – declined by 4.9% in 2011, following a 3.3% decrease in 2010. The JPO was the main contributor to this trend. Based on estimates from 76 offices, the number of potentially pending applications worldwide stood at 4.8 million in 2011.
An estimated 670,700 UM applications were filed across the world in 2011, corresponding to a 35% increase on 2010. Filings at SIPO accounted for most of this increase. Residents of Japan and the US filed the largest numbers of UM applications abroad, of which a large proportion were received by SIPO. - WIPO

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

TRIZ as a tool for Patent Analysis

I had the opportunity to learn TRIZ this year. TRIZ is a Russian acronym for Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. It was developed by Genrich Altshuller when he analyzed a great number of patent documents. He hypothesized and distilled several universal principles of invention from the contents of patent documents. He believed that these principles can be taught to people to create or enhance their innovative capabilities. It is preached by many Fortune 500 companies. I manage to participate in TRIZ level 1 workshop which was conducted by Dr TS Yeoh, president of MyTRIZ and engineer of Intel Malaysia. A book on TRIZ in manufacturing is authored by him.

In November, MyTRIZ hosted a conference and workshop in Penang with guest speakers, including Dr Sergei Ikovenko of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr Song Mijeong of Samsung and Anatoly Guin, a Russian TRIZ educator.

Dr Sergei conducted a workshop on patent circumnavigation. He taught how TRIZ principles can be used to patent around existing competitive patent. Case studies from Hyundai and L'Oreal were shared. I have learnt various valuable lessons that I can use to advise my clients in patent search and analysis.

Dr Song Mijeong shared how TRIZ is practiced in Samsung while Anatoly Guin shared how TRIZ is implemented in schools to get children to be innovative. Each participants is provided with two books by him.