Showing posts with label Intellectual Property. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Intellectual Property. Show all posts

Thursday, June 7, 2018

China vs China: Coolpad may take Xiaomi to court in India

Chinese smartphone maker Coolpad is open to moving Indian courts against IPO-bound rival Xiaomi over patent infringement, after the company filed seven such cases in China in two different courts since January this year.

Coolpad’s chief intellectual property officer told ET that Indian laws protected patent holders’ interest, which made the South Asian nation’s courts a strong option for litigation, citing the example of Ericsson suing Xiaomi in a local court which lead to an interim bar on sales of specific Xiaomi phones.

“India is one of the key markets, and India has the reputation for protecting intellectual property rights, has better laws and systems to protect patent holders.

As we saw in the Ericsson-Xiaomi case, we feel that India is a good ground for protecting patents,” Zhang said when asked whether the company would file a lawsuit here.

“Because our products are sold in India and we’re a company focused on protecting our IP assets, we will file a case in any country where we have a good chance to get good remedies,” she added.

Coolpad Group’s subsidiary, Yulong Computer Telecommunication Scientific, has filed six cases in Shenzen Intermediate People’s Court, Guangdong province, in January, and one in Nanjing Intermediate People’s Court, Jiangsu province, in May, against Xiaomi Telecom, Xiaomi Technology and Mi Home Business, citing patent infringement and has sought immediate bar on production and sale of certain mobile phone models.

Yulong claims that models including Xiaomi Mi Max 2, Xiaomi Note 3, Xiaomi Mi 5X, Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X and Mi Mix 2, use three patents on interface, applications, icon configuration and dual-SIM card and dual-stand-by technologies, which enable basic communication, display and interaction functions that belong to the company. The first hearings are expected in September.

Xiaomi, which has maintained its No 1 position in the Indian smartphone market since December 2017, said that it was aware of the motion filed by Coolpad’s subsidiary in China, but has sought that the patent rights be declared invalid.

“Xiaomi understands that the filing has yet to be accepted by the court. Xiaomi has requested the Patent Reexamination Board of SIPO to declare the invalidation of the three patent rights regarding the above-mentioned patent infringement law suit,” it said in response to ET’s queries.

With the strong growth in smartphone sales, India has become a battleground for lawsuits alleging patent infringement.

A key player in this field is Sweden’s Ericsson which has taken several mobile phone companies including Xiaomi, Micromax, Gionee and iBall to court seeking royalties for using its standard essential patents (SEPs) on 2G and 3G technologies, since 2015.

In the specific case of Xiaomi, the Swedish gear maker got an interim injunction against sale of models using Chinese chipmaker Mediatek’s chipsets in India, which forced Xiaomi to sell only those with chipsets from Qualcomm.

Xiaomi eventually entered into an agreement with the US-based chipmaker, but its lawsuit with Ericsson remains pending in the Delhi High Court.

But not all have been as successful. Indian brands like iBall and Micromax have settled with Ericsson, with Micromax taking a global patent license from Ericsson, under which it will pay royalties on every phone sold in India and overseas which uses 2G or 3G technology.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Intellectual Property Markets

Patents, trademarks, and copyrights are hardly new. Trademarks came first, in the 1200s in England. Patents were next, in the 1400s in Italy. Copyrights emerged in the early 1700s in England. For the United States, laws passed in the 1790s protected patents and copyrights. Trademark laws arrived in the 1870s following legislative activity throughout Europe. These are the three primary types of intellectual property (IP) that can be “registered” with governments for protection. Each are made public, and available statistics for all countries make it possible to track global activity.

Registered IP Boom: What is happening is not a surprise. There are several factors, besides globalization and competitiveness, that fuel the growth. First is the ability to monetize IP. IP used to be part of the price of a product. It still is, but it can also be sold or licensed or bartered in an increasingly liquid marketplace. Transactable IP, which began in the early 2000s, increased the size of the available market. Providers of software and services could now create many more capabilities than simply IP inventory management systems for companies.

Open innovation came of age a few years later, spurred by giants such as Procter & Gamble that set a goal to in-source 50% of their innovations from other companies. As the internet increasingly enabled global connectivity, big data and algorithmic analytics came of age. All the pieces were now in place to take a company’s IP portfolio and compare it to any company or set of global statistics.

Finally, coming full circle, this easily comparative global information spurred further growth as analysts warned companies about not keeping up with the Joneses. Geometric growth has been going on for the past five to seven years.

IP Networks: Another important growth driver are IP organizations that are not the actual governmental registration bodies. Western economic zones have assembled neighboring countries into consortiums and/or empowered agencies that oversee activities and influence country policies and legislation, such as Europe, Eurasia, the Arab States, and Africa. Asian countries appear to be taking a more solo approach.

On a larger scale, the World Intellectual Property Organization has become an increasingly important player. It was established in 1967 by the United Nations as a self-funding agency. It is located in Geneva, Switzerland, and represents 191 of 195 countries. WIPO, as it is known, is the global forum for IP services, policy, information, and cooperation. It is a great source of information on all registered IP. Get on their e-mail list and you will have your finger on the pulse.

Patents & Trademarks: There will always be regional, vertical, and other types of segment competitors, but a look at several WIPO’s global services likely portends the future of IP. WIPO offers three global registration platforms: for utility patents (PCT), design patents (Hague), and trademarks (Madrid). Users file a single “international application” directly with WIPO, which then handles the various country filings. This is a great assist for emergent countries and regions, and is also increasingly used by industrialized nations which already have plenty of infrastructure for registration and enforcement.

Copyrights: Copyrights are also increasingly being monetized. After the “free thinking” period when the internet boom began, the realization that content has value started to return. Giant companies and organizations around the globe now compete to gather and charge for access to their content. The list is long. Copyrights have a couple interesting twists. First is the ability to digitally identify every single publication, a systems capability that has been evolving since 1998.

Does it sound to you like the future of registered IP is headed to be a transactable commodity?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Trademark Law - No confusion between words ‘Blacksmith’ and ‘Goldsmith’

Finding no case of infringement and passing off of mark ‘Blacksmith’ by mark ‘Goldsmith’, Delhi High Court has dismissed the suit for permanent injunction. It noted that dictionary meanings of words were different and they were unlikely to be remembered by breaking into two parts, i.e. Black and Smith or Gold and Smith.
The Court in the case of Jaideep Mohan v. Hub International Industries it was held that a consumer of the products of the plaintiff and the defendants was likely to remember the said products by the meaning thereof, i.e. of the composite word – ‘Blacksmith’ and ‘Goldsmith’, which translate in Hindi language to ‘Lohar’ and ‘Sunar’, respectively.
Distinguishing a number of judgments, it held that it was highly unlikely that a consumer of alcoholic beverage in Hindi speaking belt would get confused. Court in this regard also noted that there was no confusion on account of packaging or shape of bottle/container.
Dismissing the suit, the Court was of the opinion that the suit was not required to be put through the rigmarole of trial, when no case of infringement or passing off was found even at that stage.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Delhi High Court Grants Damages Worth INR 10 Lakhs For Infringement Of The Mark Ferrero Rocher

Delhi High Court in the case Ferrero Spa & Nr vs M/S Ruchi International & Anr [CS(COMM) 76/2018] has ruled in favor of the Ferrero Spa (hereinafter referred to as the 'Plaintiffs'). A suit was filed for permanent injunction and related reliefs against the infringement of the Plaintiff's product and trade dress of FERRERO ROCHER chocolate. Defendant no. 1, who was an importer and marketer of chocolates under the brand name 'Golden Passion' settled the matter amicably outside Court, however, Defendant no. 2, manufacturer of the chocolates under the mark Golden Passion in China, did not appear before the Court, and an ex parte interim order was passed against him. Despite service of the same, Defendant no. 2 had not ceased the sale of the impugned product. The Court found in favor of the Plaintiff and imposed costs and damages worth INR 10 Lakhs (USD 14989 approx.).

Brief Background

In the above case, the Plaintiff is a part of the Ferrero Group, founded in 1946. Being ranked amongst the 4 biggest confectionary producers worldwide, it is the most reputable company in the world, according to the Reputation Institute Survey of 2009, as reported in the Economist and Forbes Magazines. However, the Plaintiffs conduct their business in India officially through Ferrero India Private Limited (hereinafter referred to as Plaintiff No. 2), incorporated in the year 2008.
During the pendency of the suit, there was a settlement reached between the Plaintiff and the Defendant No. 1, an importer and marketer of chocolates under the brand-name Golden Passion in India which are also look-alikes of Plaintiff's chocolates sold under the FERRERO ROCHER trademark. Vide the settlement, a compromise decree was passed vide order dated May 26, 2016. Whereas, none appeared on behalf of Defendant No. 2, which is the entity manufacturing and exporting chocolates under the brand Golden Passion to India, the suit proceeded being treated ex- parte against him.

Major Contentions by the Plaintiffs

  1. The Plaintiff's mark FERRERO ROCHER has been declared as a well-known mark by the Delhi High Court vide order dated March 13, 2004 in CS (OS) 404/2012.
  2. Further, the Plaintiff's contend that the label, shape and other characteristic features of the packaging of the Plaintiff's 'FERRERO ROCHER' chocolate specialties, which constitute its trade-dress are entitled to protection as being well-known marks as they satisfy the criteria mentioned in Section 11 (6) of the Trade Marks Act, 1999. The chocolate products sold by the Defendants and the packaging in which they are sold are identical to that of the packaging of the Plaintiff's FERRERO ROCHER chocolate specialties and the striking similarity between the Plaintiff's FERRERO ROCHER chocolates and those of the Defendant's has been enumerated in the plaint.
  3. Such misuse by the Defendants of the identical and/or deceptively similar trademarks, trade dress creates a mistaken impression in the minds of consumers that:

    • the Defendants products/services emanate from the Plaintiff's themselves;
    • the Defendants are permitted and authorized users of the Plaintiff's trademark; and
    • there is a nexus between the Defendants and the Plaintiffs.
  4. The Court vide order dated March 26, 2014, had restrained the Defendants from

    • manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, advertising, directly or indirectly, dealing in any manner with the impugned Golden Chocolate product or any other product leading to infringement of the Plaintiff's trademarks and trade-dress;
    • using the trade-dress, packaging, color combination, layout, get-up designed to imitate the Plaintiffs' FERRERO ROCHER trademark and trade-dress leading to dilution of the Plaintiff's trademark and trade-dress and unfair competition vis-avis the Plaintiff's business under the FERRERO ROCHER trademarks and tradedress.
  5. Even though, an injunction order was passed against Defendant No.2, it is still continuing to sell its Golden Passion chocolates in India, as is evident from the documents. The Defendant No.2 is continuing to sell numerous products which are a look alike of the FERRERO ROCHER chocolates under the brand ROWANSA and as part of its Golden Series of chocolates.
  6. The acts of the Defendants in adopting and using the identical/deceptively similar impugned mark and dress in respect of identical goods has caused and will continue to cause irreparable damage and loss to the Plaintiffs business. Further, the impugned mark which forms a part of their trading name, infringes the rights of the Plaintiffs under Section 29 (5) of the Act. The Defendant No.2 is rather dealing in the goods which are identical to the goods of the Plaintiffs.
  7. It was initially submitted by the Plaintiffs that the Court must also grant punitive damages taking into account the mala fide conduct of the Defendants, which is clearly not proportional to the quantum of actual damages that the Plaintiff has proven through documentary evidence filed in the suit on the following factors, i.e., Defendant No.2 despite service, chose not to contest the present proceedings; and it has been in contempt of the injunction order dated May 09, .2014, and has been exporting infringing chocolates to India and making them available for sale through online websites.

Contentions by the Defendants

The Defendants did not file any written statement in the suit. They also failed to admit or deny the documents of the Plaintiffs, and thus the Court proceeded to decide the case ex parte.

Observations by the Court

The Plaintiff has suffered immense loss to goodwill and reputation and hence, is entitled to a grant of damages not only in terms of compensatory damages but also in the form of punitive damages.


The Court held that since Defendant No.2 reclused itself from the proceedings, it cannot be permitted to enjoy the benefits of evasion or covert priorities as they have been selling the goods and continuing to infringe the Plaintiff's mark. The Court passed a permanent injunction in favour of the Plaintiff and awarded damages to the Defendant No.2. where a decree for a sum of INR 10 Lakhs (USD 14989 approx.) was passed against Defendant No.2, on account of infringing the registered marks, trade dress and violating the interim order. The Plaintiffs were also entitled to interest @ 10% per annum on the damages so awarded from the date of filing of the suit till the date of realization. Proportionate costs of the suit were also awarded to the Plaintiffs and against the Defendant No.2.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Permitted User Cannot Institute a Suit for Trademark Infringement, Suit Dismissed by Delhi High Court

The plaintiff/respondent no. 1, Exxon Mobile Corporation, is the registered proprietor of the trademark Exxon and does not have an office in India. Plaintiff no. 2, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Plaintiff no. 1, has an office in Delhi. And is a permitted user of the mark.
A permitted user of the mark is a person who is connected with the goods or services to which the mark relates in the course of trade and is authorized in writing to use the mark.
The defendant is the registered proprietor of the trademark ‘Exon Engineering Corporation’ and has an office in Kolkata.
Relying on Section 134(2) of the Trademarks Act, 1999 (“the Act”), the plaintiff filed the suit in Delhi on the ground that plaintiff no. 2 has an office in Delhi. Since Section 134(2) of the Act empowers a plaintiff to institute a suit for trademark infringement at any place where its office is located, the plaintiffs contended that the Delhi High Court was vested with the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the matter.
Before the single judge, the Arguments of the plaintiffs were twofold.
First, arguing that Section 52 of the Act empowers a registered user of a mark to institute a suit for infringement, the plaintiffs contended that there was no reason why a permitted user of the mark would not be similarly empowered to institute such a suit.
Second, relying on Section 48(2) of the Act, they contended that the use of a mark by a permitted user would be deemed to be use by the registered proprietor. This being the case, owing to the fact that the permitted user of the mark i.e. plaintiff no. 2 had an office in Delhi, its use of the mark would be deemed to be use of the mark by the first plaintiff in Delhi.
On the other hand, the defendant argued that it was carrying on business in Kolkata, so a court in Delhi would not have jurisdiction to adjudicate upon the matter. Further, in light of the fact that Section 53 of the Act imposes an express embargo on the institution of a suit by a permitted user, plaintiff no. 2 could not have instituted the suit. Finally, since plaintiff no. 1 did not have an office in Delhi, Section 134(2) could not come to its aid.
Ruling in favour of the plaintiffs, the single judge held that the explanation to Section 134(2) of the Act, which delineates the categories of persons who are empowered to institute a suit, must be construed in an inclusive and liberal fashion. This being the case, a permitted user would also fall within the four squares of the term ‘person’ and would, therefore, be empowered to press Section 134(2) into service.
Relying on the apex court’s holding in the case of Exphar SA versus Eupharma Labratories, which involved the interpretation of Section 62(2) of the Copyright Act, the single judge held that, in light of the fact that the person instituting the suit i.e. plaintiff no. 2 had an office in Delhi, the suit could go forward.
Finally, the single judge also accepted the plaintiff’s contention that plaintiff no. 1 would be deemed to use the mark in Delhi owing to its use by its wholly owned subsidiary.
The defendant-Appellant appealed before the Division Bench against this judgment, resulting in the judgment under consideration.
Decision of Court:
The Court commenced its analysis by noting that the single judge’s reliance on the Exphar case was inapposite in light of the fact that there is a critical difference in the principles governing the construction of the term ‘person instituting a suit’ in the Copyright Act and Trademark Act.
More specifically, the terms ‘permitted user’, ‘registered user’, and ‘proprietor of the registered trademark’ are unique to the Trademark Act and are significantly different from and cannot be treated as being on the same footing as an exclusive licensee under the Copyright Act.
Thereafter, on a perusal of the text of Section 53, the Court held that the Section clearly prohibits a permitted user from instituting a suit for infringement.
Noting the difference between a registered user and a permitted user, the Court held that Section 52(1) authorizes a registered user to institute a suit whereas there is no such enabling provision insofar as a permitted user is concerned.
Holding that the term ‘person’ in the explanation to Section 134(2) must be construed as being inclusive, the Court held that it would nonetheless not include a permitted user within its ambit. The opposite conclusion would clearly be contrary to the terms of the enactment, inasmuch as it would authorize the selfsame thing that Section 53 prohibits.
Since plaintiff no. 2 was not legally empowered to institute the suit, the Court next had to decide if it had jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a suit instituted by plaintiff no. 1.
In order to answer this question, the Court relied on its own judgment in the case of Ultra Home Construction versus Purushottam Kumar Chaubey as per which a court has the jurisdiction to adjudicate upon a matter under the special provisions found in Section 134 of the Act and Section 62 of the Copyright Act in 4 different circumstances. Ritvik has covered the ratio of this case here.
Since the plaintiff does not have a principal place of business in India and the cause of action did not arise in Delhi, the Court held that the factual matrix of this case would not fall within the ambit of any of the four circumstances set forth in Ultrahome.
On this basis, the Court reversed the single judge’s decision and rejected the plaint for lack of jurisdiction.

Monday, January 9, 2017

If The Threat Of Infringement Exists, Then Courts Have Jurisdiction To Entertain The Suit

IPR Law- Infringement: Export: Threats: Jurisdiction – The Delhi High Court held that if the threat of infringement exists, then this court would certainly have jurisdiction to entertain the suit.

It was also held that the exporting of goods from a country is to be considered as sale within the country from where the goods are exported and the same amounts to infringement of trade mark.

In the present matter, the defendant, by a master agreement, had sold and assigned the trade mark MAAZA including formulation rights, know-how, intellectual property rights, goodwill etc for India only. with respect to a mango fruit drink known as MAAZA.

In 2008, the defendant filed an application for registration of the trade mark MAAZA in Turkey started exporting fruit drink under the trade mark MAAZA. The defendant sent a legal notice repudiating the agreement between the plaintiff and the defendant, leading to the present case. The plaintiff, the Coca Cola Company also claimed permanent injunction and damages for infringement of trade mark and passing off.

It was held by the court that the intention to use the trade mark besides direct or indirect use of the trade mark was sufficient to give jurisdiction to the court to decide on the issue. The court finally granted an interim injunction against the defendant (Bisleri) from using the trade mark MAAZA in India as well as for export market, which was held to be infringement of trade mark

Patent Infringement Cannot Be Presumed

Bayer Corporation, instead of filing a suit for infringement, filed an inventive writ petition in the Delhi High Court desiring that since the applications of Cipla “SORANIB” allegedly infringed its patent, its (Cipla’s) marketing approval application under the Drugs Act should not even be processed or entertained. It is for the first time that an attempt is made to link drug approval to patent infringement in India. However, the Delhi High Court, denying the injunction, imposed a substantial cost of Rs. 6.75 Lakh to deter any such future attempts.
Bayer relied on the argument that a combined reading of Section 2 of the Drugs and Cosmetic Act along with Section 48 of the (Indian) Patent Act, 1970 establishes a Patent Linkage Mechanism under which no market approval for a drug can be granted if there a patent subsisting over that drug. It also claimed that CIPLA’s “SORANIB” is a “Spurious Drug” as defined under the Drugs Act, for which market approval cannot be granted.
The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi held that there is no Drug- Patent Linkage mechanism in India as both the Acts have different objectives and the authority to determine patent standards, is within the exclusive domain of the Controller of Patents. Moreover, the patent linkage will have undesirable effect on the India’s Policy of Public Health. It further held that the market approval of a drug does not amount to infringement of patent. Therefore, the patent infringement cannot be presumed, it has to be established in a court of law. Such adjudication is beyond the jurisdiction of Drug Authorities.

On the issue of “SORANIB” being a spurious drug, the court held that CIPLA’s “SORANIB” cannot come under the category of spurious goods as there is no element of passing off like deception or imitation present in CIPLA’s drug”.

Speedy disposal of Intellectual property rights cases

 Dispute over Patent for the Use of Twin-Spark Plug Engine Technology – Speedy disposal of Intellectual property rights cases- The Supreme Court of India by this landmark judgment has directed all the courts in India for speedy trial and disposal of intellectual property related cases in the courts in India. In two-year-old dispute involving two companies, which have been locked in a patent dispute over the use of a twin-spark plug engine technology, the Supreme Court observed that suits relating to the matters of patents, trademarks and copyrights are pending for years and years and litigation is mainly fought between the parties about the temporary injunction. The Supreme Court directed that hearing in the intellectual property matters should proceed on day to day basis and the final judgment should be given normally within four months from the date of the filing of the suit. The Supreme Court further directed to all the courts and tribunals in the country to punctually and faithfully carry out the aforesaid orders.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Defending India’s IPR

It is ten years since India amended the Indian Patents Act, 1970 to bring its laws in line with the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The most important of those amendments related to the introduction of product patents for 20 years, including for pharmaceutical products. Significant safeguards were built into the legislation. These included debarring of ever greening patents, a process by which the patent holder seeks to extend the life of patents by some minor tinkering with the products. The amended legislation also expanded the scope of compulsory licensing and introduced for the first time post grant opposition to patents (Provisions relating to pre-grant opposition were retained).The legislation raised the bar for what constitutes an invention and what cannot be patented in India.

The above provisions served Indian consumers well by keeping the price of some important drugs dealing with critical illnesses such as cancer under check. The Patent office’s rulings have by and large been upheld by the highest courts. Inevitably big pharma have lobbied with their governments to force India to dilute the provisions.

The new government under pressure

The NDA government’s approach to the IPR issues has been a subject of intense discussion, especially in the context of repeated attempts by the US Trade Representative (USTR) to put India and some other countries on the mat over the alleged weaknesses in their IPR regime. The Office of the USTR is part of the executive office of the American President and apart from being the chief trade negotiator of the U.S. government has enormous clout over the conduct of trade across the world.

On April 30, the office of the USTR named India and China among 13 countries, which were placed on a priority list, requiring close scrutiny for their alleged IPR weaknesses in diverse areas including pharma, IT and publishing.

The report called upon these governments to plug what it thinks are the lacunae in their IPR regimes so as to align them with global standards. For India the USTR action has been a persistent thorn. As soon as the NDA government took office it had to face a similar report. In fact out of last year’s inclusion in the priority list, India faced a mid-term appraisal.

However, the U.S. authorities noted some improvement — a conclusion no doubt arising out of improving relations between the two countries at the highest levels.

There has been one saving grace on both occasions: India while being on the priority list was not designated a priority watch country, which might have led to penal action against India. In practical terms that means being able to stand up to influential lobbies such as seen spectacularly in pharma. The consolation prize of avoiding punitive action by the developed countries is simply not enough.

Draft of a new policy

India needs to fashion a policy that will be in tune with global standards and at the same time protect special Indian strengths. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said as much: “India should align its IPR laws with global standards.” Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman remarked earlier that “We need an integrated policy,” While nothing significant can be inferred from these statements the government has done well to release a draft IPR policy in the public domain. Taking a balanced approach, it says that existing laws — that seek to protect the rights and incentives of innovators on the one hand and public interest on the other — would remain. However it also calls for legislative changes to keep pace with economic and technological developments.

A challenging task

It is going to be an extremely challenging task to stick to that position. Of special concern have been the developments in the pharma industry where India is facing maximum pressures from extremely well funded lobbies set up by big pharma from the U.S. and other developed countries (although it must be reiterated that pharma is not the only area).

IPR challenges have to be met increasingly through political action and diplomacy. The government needs to strengthen its decision-making process and boost the skills of its negotiators. In this connection an important initiative of the NDA government has been the setting up of an IPR think tank which among other tasks, will help in the formulation of a National Intellectual Property Rights policy for the first. The draft paper is the first step. The government has called for feedbacks before it finalises a new IPR policy.

The domestic constituency of the NDA government also cannot obviously be ignored. Already there have been rumblings over the composition of the technical committee that will advise the government.

To reiterate, the main challenge is to eradicate even the faintest of suspicions that the government is acting under external pressure. India does not have an IPR policy but it has a strong legal foundation. Important precedents have been set especially in pharma-related matters. Besides, there is a well functioning Patents office with sufficient experience to grant patents and uphold consumer interests. From here a new, well balanced policy should not be too difficult. Resisting the big lobbies which have the support of the political establishments of developed countries is an entirely different matter.

(This article first appeared in The Hindu dated May 18, 2015)

India’s IPR environment is maturing

Legal systems are in place, landmark judgements have been pronounced, and next-gen policies are being evolved

The establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at the conclusion of the Uruguay Round (UR) on negotiations in 1995 signalled a quantum leap in integrating developing countries with the global economies. Developing countries undertook greater commitments lured by additional market access in agriculture, textiles and the movement of people.

In a well researched report by RIS India , the gains from the UR proposals were estimated to be between $213-$510 billion a year, with developing countries benefiting to the tune of $86-$122 billion. Empirical evidence suggests that there has been a significant deviation of these income flows to the developing world in favour of the developed world.

Works in progress
The Indian intellectual property rights system represents one of the most mature IP systems amongst developing countries, although some of the studies rank it below China, which is often accused of thefts, counterfeiting, piracy and cyber attacks on IPRs. Successive Indian governments have put in efforts to improve IP legislation since 2000. Jurisprudence has consistently evolved, institutions like the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) have been established, and landmark judgments by the judiciary have been given in the past few years. In recent times, key efforts have been made by the PMO to revisit the IP regime and a task force has been set up to evolve a next generation IP policy for our nation.

There have been acrimonious noises made by US industry against Indian IP legislation and its interpretation by the government and judiciary. Criticism of certain provisions in the Patent Act that renders evergreening of patents ineligible for grant has generated considerable heat. Similarly, lack of IP enforcement, a non-responsive legal system, lack of awareness and compulsory licensing have all come under fire.

On the ground, it appears to be a lot of work in progress. Significant policy changes in recent years by successive governments have been responsible for the evolution of IP legislation in our country. Indian pharmaceutical companies have become globally competitive in the generics market.

Not only are Indian companies competitive, the drugs produced by these companies have pharmacologically better characteristics and quality. Some of these domestic companies are also entering into licensing agreements with global players such as Sanofi, Forest Laboratories, Bristol Myers Squibb, Merck, and Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca in the R&D space. Over 50 NCEs/NMEs from Indian companies are at different stages of development for new drugs. This marks the entrance of Indian pharma companies in drug discovery; an innovation cycle that may be fraught with difficulties but is equally rewarding of success.

On copyright

In the case of the entertainment and IT industry, the recent involvement of the HRD ministry with industry associations such as Ficci, BSA and MPA are providing copyright enforcement training to police officers and its governing officials. To deepen awareness on copyrights, the ministry is in the process of finalising the inclusion of IPR as a compulsory subject in K-12 education. These are likely to see much anticipated reduction in unlicensed software and piracy of music and films.

There have been pioneering judgments that decisively deal with digital TM violations, meta tagging and parallel imports, making our legal environment more responsive and intolerant towards IP abuse. The decision of grant of interim royalty payouts by the Delhi High Court in the Ericsson vs Micromax case is a turning point in the “no damage cover” regime prevalent in India.

In the engineering and manufacturing sectors, IP capability and process maturity appear to be the binding-glue that will allow OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) transfer critical IPRs to Indian companies without fear. These ingredients must find a place in training each skilled worker in this exercise of nation-building. It is recommended that each set of National Occupational Standards must aim to create workers who are knowledgeable, innovative, skilled and IP centric.

India’s openness to re-examine its IPR laws and policies, and establish a think-tank and an empowered group on IPR reflects serious intentions of her transforming attitude towards IPRs.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Technology Leaders Unite to Protect Intellectual Property Rights

From servers and hard drives to semiconductors and software, Intellectual Property (IP) is a key asset for many high tech companies. Protecting the invention, innovation, research, design and testing involved in creating IP is critical to high tech companies of all sizes, and IP must be closely guarded to protect technological advancements. Threats to IP are many and varied, and come in many different forms -- including gray marketing, counterfeiting, service and warranty fraud and digital IP abuse.
AGMA, a non-profit organization and the largest group solely focused on IP protection in the high-tech industry, is on a mission to hinder threats to IP and render these activities more difficult, undesirable and unprofitable. AGMA's goal is to educate the industry and the public -- sharing and developing best practices in the fight against IP theft. Comprised of the tech sector's most influential companies -- including Avaya®, Cisco®, APC® by Schneider Electric, HP®, IBM®, Microsoft®, QLogic®, Seagate® and more -- AGMA employs a number of tactics, including event speaking, educational initiatives, benchmark studies, industry guidelines, and public policy advocacy.

Advocating for Change
IP theft comes in many shapes and sizes. AGMA has narrowed its focus on the following threats: gray marketcounterfeitingservice and warranty fraud and digital IP abuse. These four distinct areas of focus must be closely guarded in order for the high-tech industry to thrive and contribute to economic prosperity, innovation and security. To provide a greater level of support to its members, AGMA has recently appointed industry experts to act as advocates for each of its four focus areas.

AGMA appointed advocates include individuals from prominent member companies including HP, Schneider Electric and Microsoft. A primary responsibility for AGMA Advocates is to drive internal and external initiatives that will bring greater visibility to the issue and arm members with best practices to address the problem. Leveraging their extensive knowledge, AGMA Advocates will also provide a greater level of education to the industry, law enforcement, policy makers and consumers.
According to AGMA president Sally Nguyen, "AGMA has been fighting the good fight against these threats to intellectual property rights since 2001, and we are still the only association that is focused on these issues facing the high-tech industry. Our AGMA Advocates dig deep into their specific areas of focus -- they provide additional resources and knowledge to penetrate the industry and raise awareness. The goal is for members to get the most out their AGMA membership and make them more adept at fighting the problem."

The Issues at a Glance
Gray marketing is the sale of genuine branded products that have been diverted from authorized distribution channels or that have been imported into another country without the consent and knowledge of the brand owner. Counterfeiting is the deliberate attempt to deceive consumers by copying and marketing goods that bear a rights holder's trademark, so that these goods appear to have been placed on the market by the rights holder. Both gray marketing and counterfeiting impact more than just the bottom line -- they can negatively influence brand image, customer loyalty and overall customer satisfaction.

Service and warranty fraud contributes to the gray market, and acts as a conduit for counterfeit goods to infiltrate the authorized supply chain. Finally, due to their intangible nature, digital products can be reproduced at a very low cost and delivered via the Internet across virtually unlimited geographic markets. Therefore, it's easy to see why digital IP represents the most rapidly growing portion of the global economy.

This article first appeared in

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Trademark and Copyright Law

Because of the value of even the simplest phrase, celebrities today are utilizing copyright and trademark law to protect their intellectual rights in instances rarely before noticed. It is Copyright and Trademark Law which requires their lawyers to send cease and desist letters to unsuspecting entrepreneurs. A balance needs to be restored so celebrities can proceed against large scale pirates even if they don’t aggressively seek to protect their intellectual property rights in every case.
Recently Publicized Trademark and Copyright Actions by Attorneys for Celebrities
Individuals and small businesses have recently been surprised to receive cease and desist letters from entertainers like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry for everything from TaylorSwift song lyrics on a coffee cup to a 3D print of the left shark in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance. So what’s up with that?
It’s been said that entertainers are now blurring the lines between copyright, trademark and patent law simply to make more money or to prevent others from making money off of them. However, there actually is precedent for making claims that a musician’s lyrics are protected under trademark law and that other images created by a performer and likewise associated with that entertainer are protected under copyright law.
Trademark Law
The cease and desist letter sent by Taylor Swift’s attorneys to prevent her lyrics from being printed on coffee cups sold to the public is an example of how entertainers today are seeking to protect their work from being infringed by others under trademark law.
It would be difficult today for any lyricist or musician to claim that they discovered, invented or created the grouping of any few words in a song title or the song’s lyrics for the very first time and that no one ever before them had come along to do so. Although at some point, someone must have said each phrase in any language for the very first time, it’s doubtful they ever became so well known for having used the phrase that others would immediately associate the phrase with that person.
Today, while the lyrics of a songwriter would be a valid work that could be copyrighted so as to entitle the musician to bring suit for copyright infringement against anyone using them in a copyrightable work themselves, with the exception of the fair use doctrine (which is an entire subject on its own) for slight uses, the average person on the street would not expect that the lyrics could be trademarked so as to prevent the use of even a one-line lyric on a coffee cup. But they can. They can be trademarked as well as copyrighted. So what is going on here?
The theory behind an assertion that lyrics or a slogan, or a phrase can be trademarked is that the lyrics have become so distinctly associated with the entertainer themself or their song in the case of lyrics, that they have acquired secondary meaning, thus allowing the performer the right to protect the phrase in any type of commerce, such as on coffee cups or other goods.
Is it really worth it to trademark a phrase that you’re associated with? Consider the trademarked phrase, “Let’s Get Ready to Rumble.” It’s been reported that this one simple phrase has generated $400 million to it’s owner, Michael Buffer.
Is such a legal assertion going to hold water for the local street performer or even an emerging artist on a singing competition on television. In nearly every instance, the answer would be no. But for someone of Taylor Swift’s stature, or Katy Perry’s or the Beatles? Yes.
But why should it be necessary for such artists who are most assuredly making more money than we can imagine need to prevent a small entrepreneur from making a small amount of money from coffee cups with a songwriter’s lyrics on them? Because trademark law in the U.S. requires them to do just that if they want to protect their works.
Trademark law require a quick response from the owner of a work in which they assert ownership to prevent the unauthorized use of their work. This is normally achieved by use of a “cease and desist” letter to the alleged infringer of their work. It’s not a lawsuit, but it’s a none-too-polite way of warning the alleged infringer that if they don’t stop using the person’s work in commerce, a lawsuit will follow, which can be far more expensive to defend in most cases, with the risk of a judgement for damages, than stopping what it is they’re doing that has brought the ire of the work’s owner, in this case the lyricist or performer.
The typical cease and desist letter, whether it’s used to stop an alleged trademark infringement or an alleged copyright infringement, warns the alleged infringer that their continued use or sale of the alleged infringing products may subject them to a judgement for actual damages, statutory damages, and punitive damages as well as immediate and permanent injunctive relief if they are found to have infringed the owner’s copyright or trademark. What such a letter also fails to mention, is that the attorney fees and costs in defending such a lawsuit may be so expensive as to even force them into bankruptcy.
Even if the claim that’s made by the attorneys for the artist in a cease and desist letter is bogus, specious at best, in most cases it simply isn’t worth it for the individual or a small business to wage the fight against a deep-pocketed performer just to win a small victory that obtains only the right to sell an item rather than the damages the performer could win for the infringement of their work.
Copyright Law
The cease and desist letter sent by Katy Perry’s lawyers to the owner of an online store selling 3D printed replicas of the left shark in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance was based on an assertion by her lawyers that the sale of 3D print of the shark costume were infringing Katy Perry’s rights under U.S. copyright law.
Perhaps to the surprise of Katy Perry’s lawyers, in this case, they received a response from an NYU law professor representing the owner of the online store.
The law professor tweeted that he felt the left shark was not copyrightable because it qualified as a “useful article” which is not protected the same way as an artistic work. The law professor also sent a letter in response to Katy Perry’s lawyers, questioning whether the singer’s lawyers had over-asserted the strength of their client’s rights.
In his letter, the professor wondered what Katy Perry could possibly have to gain from their declared war on the left shark internet meme. He asked why the lawyers for Katy Perry could feel that the costume of a shark is copyrightable in view of the fact, he stated, that the U.S. Copyright Office has made it clear that costumes are not. It should be noted however, that another law professor has also weighed in on the subject stating that an animal costume can be copyrighted, so long as it is not generic.
Regardless, the law professor representing the online store owner made it clear that his client just wanted to go back to his business and would be grateful if Katy Perry’s lawyers would just back off. As the law professor said, going ahead with a dubious copyright claim would not benefit Katy Perry. He also questioned whether the NFL rather than Katy Perry had ownership of any copyright interest in the costume.
But indeed, if Katy Perry did design the costume or had a designer transfer their copyright interest to her, and if she felt she might use it in future shows and possibly even sell replicas herself at concerts, even if the NFL had control over the content of the Super Bowl halftime show, this is what copyright law also requires of anyone owning a copyright - a quick assertion of their rights upon learning of any infringement of them.
To a performer in today’s spotlight across all mediums of the universe which can be very bright indeed, the performer’s intellectual property is their most valuable asset. In 1985, Michael Jackson bought the publishing rights to most of the Beatles songs for a mere $47.5 million. Today this amount looks ridiculously small, and in fact it was even then. The purchase of the Beatles catalogue meant that Jackson was free to license any song previously owned by the former music publishing arm of The Beatles to any brand he chose.
Jackson was later able to sell his rights to Sony for $95 million and still acquire half ownership in Sony/ATV Publishing as well, a company which today is worth billions. (ATV had previously purchased the Beatles catalogue from Northern Songs, the Beatles publishing arm.) Due to a notoriously terrible contract John Lennon and Paul McCartney signed at the start of their career, Northern Songs owned the publishing rights to over 250 Beatles songs, including all of their hits at height of Beatlemania.
The online store owner attempting to sell Katy Perry’s shark costume perhaps summed up the perspective of the small entrepreneur who receives cease and desist letters today with a few choice words. He said it appeared to be easier to deal with world leaders like Kim Jong Un or Chris Christie and that he would go back to making pieces about them and other world leaders (although we’re not sure Chris Christie would qualify as such). His final thought on the subject was more astute - “All this lawyer crap is very stressful.”
Dealing with lawyers preventing a small business person from making a little money can indeed be very stressful. But this is what trademark and copyright law requires of the attorney who has been tasked with protecting every possible intellectual property asset of their client. The lawyer may not like putting the strong arm on a business person just trying to make a living, but for the business person who now has to give up a line of products he or she may have invested some money in producing, and who may have done so without thinking of the consequences when they should have known better, there is considerably more stress felt upon receipt of a lawyer’s cease and desist letter.
While the seller of the coffee cups with Taylor Swift lyrics printed on them and the maker of the 3D prints of the left shark in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl performance may not have anticipated they were infringing anyone’s copyright or trademark interest, neither should Taylor Swift nor Katy Perry be criticized when trademark law and copyright law requires them to have their lawyers do exactly what they did, namely to aggressively protect their clients’ intellectual property rights.     
Is it necessary for a lyricist or songwriter to prevent their lyrics from being sold on any type of item? Under trademark law as it exists today, probably so, if the lyrics are so distinctly associated with the songwriter and performer that they have acquired secondary meaning under the law.
Is it necessary for a performer to prevent others from selling the same costume they create or have someone else create for them to use in a performance? Under copyright law, probably so as well, if the artist wants to retain the exclusive right to use the costume in future performances thus acquiring an even stronger acquired secondary meaning that will allow that artist to copyright the costume and later sell it themselves as a Halloween costume.
If Jimmy Buffet had a Parrothead costume, which for all we know he may have, and he used it in his performances, no one would question his right to have it copyrighted. The name, Parrothead, is already trademarked by Jimmy Buffet and his company, Margaritaville Enterprises, for various products.
Today, however, the brand of a performing artist, sports figure or model is so much bigger than just their music, their achievements on the field or their photos, it’s everything else that allows them to market themselves across all the different platforms available to them today. And that is why too a celebrity must also be careful not to appear to be petty at the expense of the little person.
Unfortunately for the celebrity, in today’s world when their every action and those of their attorneys are publicized, even when they do exactly what is required of them by trademark and copyright law, their actions can appear to be unjustified.
While it may be important to protect one’s intellectual property, because of he importance of their brand’s image, a celebrity would not be wise to sic their lawyers on an autistic little girl’s lemonade stand selling hand drawings of their celebrity client to help pay for her mother’s cancer treatment. And let’s be clear, we know of no such instance having occurred to date and we doubt any celebrity would ever knowingly have their attorneys take such an action.
We should also make it clear that copyright and trademark laws are essential and are crucial to protecting the rights of the creative artist who develops a screenplay or produces a film, writes music or a book or creates a line of clothing or jewelry or anything else due to their talent as artists and creative people against those who would sell pirated copies of their films, produce knock offs of women’s handbags or designs of clothing, or of an artist’s paintings. Our firm, just like any other firm who practices copyright and trademark law will proceed against such a copyright or trademark infringer without a second thought.
But there must obviously be some balance between protecting one’s intellectual property while allowing the little person to sell a product that has only a tangential relationship with a celebrity. What is thus needed is a change in the law that allows both parties to coexist peaceably and which does not, by their coexistence, cause the celebrity to forfeit their intellectual property rights if they choose to allow the little girl at her lemonade stand to sell her drawings without receiving a letter from an attorney.
Perhaps when the copyright and trademark laws are rewritten, that balance and peace between the celebrity and the little guy or girl will be restored while still allowing the creative artist’s lawyers to proceed with all the resources at their disposal against pirates who would seek to profit in large scale off the back of the creative artist.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


Gucci has been accusing Guess of trademark violations for years, and on Friday the Court of Paris reached a decision in the matter that has already been addressed in Italian and American courts. 
The French court ruled in Guess's favor, finding no trademark infringement, no counterfeiting and no unfair competition between the luxury Italian label and American mall brand. Gucci's request for €55 million (about $62 million USD) in damages was denied and instead the company was ordered to pay Guess €30,000 about ($34,000 USD). The court also nullified Gucci's trademark of three of its "G" logos. In a statement, a representative for Gucci responded saying the company strongly disagrees with the verdict and "will certainly and immediately bring an appeal against the decision."
This marks Guess's second victory against Gucci so far. However, in 2012, a New York court ruled that Guess was guilty of copying four of the five trademarked logos Gucci addressed in its claim. According to the judge's decision in that case, the logos in question were the following:
a)     the green-red-green Stripe mark
b)     the repeating GG pattern
c)      the diamond motif trade dress, which is the repeating GG pattern with a pair of inverted Gs in each corner rendered in a brown/beige color combination,
d)     the stylized G design mark
e)     the script Gucci design mark
In a dramatic court case that involved tears and shady e-mails, Guess only ended up having to pay $4.7 million in damages, which was nothing compared to the $124 million Gucci was seeking and small change when you consider that Guess made nearly $2.7 billion in revenue in 2011. 
Two major points weakened Gucci's case and contributed to the small payout. First, the judge noted that Gucci could not have been ignorant of Guess's designs until it finally filed the case in 2009, especially since both brands had similar advertising budgets and stores near each other, often in the same mall. (Guess was founded in 1981 and started producing the designs in question around 1995) And secondly, the judge ruled Guess had diluted Gucci's logos, not counterfeiting them, saying, "courts have uniformly restricted trademark counterfeiting claims to those situations where entire products have been copied stitch-for-stitch."

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Patent Office opens up data of expired patents

The know-how and technological details of the patents, which has already been expired or lapsed validity in the country, is being opened up for the small and medium enterprises to utilise them for their business growth, said a higher official in the Indian Patent Office. India is also expected to sign a bilateral agreement with the European Patent Office (EPO) by September to have cooperation in various levels.

Participating in the inaugural function of 5th edition of IPEX 2014- conference on emerging trends in IP management and commercialisation, Chaitanya Prasad, controller general of patents, designs and trademarks, said that the patent office is offering the details of the expired through its website, free of cost.

He said that the knowledge of the expired patent, which becomes a public property, could be used by the small and medium level enterprises to develop new products. However, they cannot re-patent it.

Speaking about the proposed tie up with the EPO, expected to be signed in Geneva in the last week of September, he said that the agreement would be to develop biannual work plan to work on cooperation in various aspects including the training and data exchange of human resources and practices, along with other things,” he said.

In terms of standard practices, he said that the Patent Office wants to be at par with the best of the world practices by 2020 and at present, the patent examiners in India are almost twice faster than the examiners in US and European Patent Offices.

Around 43,000 applications are filed with the Patent Office every year. While majority of patent applications are filed by foreign firms, majority of trademark applications are from Indian applicants. Of the total patent applications, around 20 per cent are from Indian firms while in trademarks, the Office gets around 2.02 lakh applications a year, of which almost 90 per cent are from Indian applicants.

In order to improve the efficiency of patent filing mechanism, the Patent Office is planning to have all banks under its comprehensive payment gateway from early next week, which would be helpful for its applicants to pay online.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Does Need A Trademark? Branding In The Collaborative Economy: Are Intellectual Property Rights At Risk?

There’s an event going on today at Union Station in Kansas City, Missouri called The Resilient Summit.  It is described as an examination of the “Collaborative Economy,” which is being called  “a key trend that’s redefining established business models, empowering consumers and driving the next phase of social.”   How can Collaborative Economy have anything to do withIntellectual Property?
As it turns out, plenty.
The Collaborative Economy is a term we’ve seen cropping up with more and more frequency in the commercial and social media.  The Collaborative Economy is described as an economic system where consumers prefer to share, rather than purchase, goods and services.
Stop right there.  In a consumer-oriented economy, where the idea is for people to consume, changing the paradigm to sharing would seem to imply a lot less consumption.  Economically, it may remain to be seen whether there is less consumption or just different consumption, and perhaps different revenue models under which the overall consumer economy still expands.
Intellectual Property law has focused on how to let inventors, artists, authors and businesses protect their rights while generally selling their goods and services.  What is the tension between protecting “sales” and the collaborative model of sharing?  How do brand owners maintain and protect their valuable intellectual property assets in the collaborative marketplace?
A lot of us know that instead of purchasing a car, someone who needs a car only occasionally can share a car through   Or, a consumer from Detroit who wants to visit Paris for a week’s vacation can use instead of finding a hotel room.  Some brand owners have tried to figure out how to jump ahead of the curve and share, instead of sell, their products.  Patagonia’s and eBay’s Common Threads venture enables consumers to recycle “Patagonia” brand outdoor clothing from one user to another.  Toyota has started leasing cars for short-term periods.   So in these instances, it seems pretty clear that trademarks may become more important than ever in a sharing economy.   People rely on the trademarked name as an assurance of quality.  Trademarks will signify quality, authenticity and predictability.  They may function in different ways, but the value of a trademark – an indication of origin – is still front and center.
Advertising and marketing are traditional concepts for extending a brand’s reach. As the Collaborative Economy shifts more power out of the hands of marketers and into those of consumers, how will brands be able to advertise and market lawfully? What steps will brands have to take to reach consumers without exposing themselves to undue risk?  Social media strategies did not fit into traditional marketing until the past couple of years.  But testimonials like the experiences of friends and other consumers are key marketing components for the Collaborative Economy.  Advertising that includes references to these experiences is still subject to regulation by the FTC and the various state rules.  Disclosure rules regarding who is talking about your product and why, and if they are getting any money or other benefit, are also going to be front and center.
When we get to traditional concepts of patent and copyright protection, there is the potential for fundamental distribution by sharing.  Patents and copyrights have both been around in this country for well over two centuries.  Both types of property rights were established directly in the Constitution (you could look it up: it’s right there in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, “…to promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.”)
The worthy bargain between encouraging invention and creation in exchange for giving inventors and authors various terms of exclusivity has always been favored by our laws.  An economy which relies in re-using rather than selling creates new challenges.  The digital economy has already exposed some of the weaknesses of the existing law in the music and publishing industries.  Will collaboration finally push a major overhaul of copyright law principles?  It may.  But for now, copyright owners will have to consider how entrenched legal principals such as a fair use right to copy the works of others will work into the equation.   For now, copyright owners might want to take more and innovative licensing approaches, including limiting the duration of rights which they grant, to find ways to explain this potential new collaborative marketplace.
Patents are property rights which already lend themselves to licensing.  Collaboratives might be a boon to sharing via patent licensing arrangements.  Might manufacturers rent rather than buy?  Can they join in a pool of patents to help expand their scope and streamline enforcement efforts?   There are legal boundaries that apply to some of these methods, and patents are already under wide-scale attack.  Does collaboration prove an opportunity to change the dialog? It might, especially when considering patent-laden technologies like 3-D printing, which are on the verge of bringing massive changes to whom consumer goods are valued and delivered.  And of course, if some entrepreneurs start patenting methods of sharing, we’ll be having a whole ‘nother discussion, still.
People protect their intellectual property rights as a threat which helps keep copiers at bay, and as a weapon with which to attack when that threat fails to keep an infringer from testing the boundaries of protection.  (Or, perhaps more realistically, when a buck is to be made by any means possible.)  Will consumers be unable to distinguish, in a sharing marketplace, between genuine goods and knock-offs?  If the sources of products are changing, where is the reassurance going to come from that the goods are genuine?  If a shopper buys a bag at Louis Vuitton, there are some good reasons to believe the product is the genuine article.  In a collaborative setting, what assurance is there, besides the buyer’s word?
The Collaborative Economy may well just be starting.  It may be the next big thing.  Companies can consider whether they can join the Collaborative Economy in a way that uses their intellectual property to build trust.  Companies will need to stay ahead of the consumer and legal curve to insure they know the impact on their intellectual property rights.