SCOTUS’s sceptical judges
Judges at the US Supreme Court heard
Bowman v Monsanto yesterday: a patent case over
soybeans that could have far-reaching implications for the
ability of inventors to protect self-replicating technologies.
Those who have read
transcripts of the court proceedings suspect the decision
is likely to go Monsanto’s way. After all, Chief
Justice Roberts’s first question to the parties
was "Why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to
improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody
could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?"
Blogger Dennis Crouch says he won’t be
surprised if the result is 9-0 in Monsanto’s
Take me off your list!
reports that the Philippines has petitioned the US to
remove it from the US Trade Representatives’
Special 301 Report of jurisdictions with poor IP
protection. The Philippines has been included on the Watch List
for a number of years but IPO director-general
Ricardo Blancaflor’s petition cites the
country’s improvements, including a new
copyright bill, a new cybercrime prevention bill, as well
as the removal of certain markets from the Notorious Markets
list. IP Komodo’s Nick Redfearn, while
acknowledging some of the improvements made, is sceptical of
some of the touted changes, noting that it is still
"agonizingly slow to get a prosecution case to trial" and there
is an almost complete lack of IP enforcement by Customs.
Resale rights for Chinese artists?
Modern Chinese art has proved a big draw for collectors over
the past 20 years, and now artists look set to be given a legal
right to a cut of future sales of their work at auctions. The
looks at one of the lesser discussed provisions of
China’s draft amendment to the copyright law. The
latest draft reportedly contains a provision providing for
artists’ resale rights (droit de suite),
similar to those in about 60 other jurisdictions (although the
rules are not always applied consistently). Other countries
typically set the compensation rate from 1% to 5%. With works
by China’s art world superstars such as
Yue Minjun changing hands for hundreds of thousands of
dollars at auction the change could be lucrative. But while
artists may be keen, auction houses say that it could have a
chilling effect on the market.
Pirate bay parody
It might have started as a clever piece of marketing by an
anti-piracy group but, as has often been the case, Pirate Bay,
the Swedish file-sharing website, could have the last laugh.
Torrent Freak reports that the people behind the Swedish
website have reported Finnish anti-piracy
group CIAPC to the Economic Crime unit of the Finnish
police for ripping off
their website design. The Pirate Bay reportedly cited
a similar case where the owner of a parody site was prosecuted
recently. "We will not stand by and watch copyright enforcing
organizations disrespect copyright," the group said.
WIPO’s deal makers
tackle treaty for the blind
Negotiators are having a busy time in Geneva this week,
thrashing out details of a plan to widen
access to copyright work by the visually impaired. But not
everyone is happy with WIPO’s policy on reporting
developments in the talks. The IP organisation is allowing NGOs
attending the negotiations to follow a live audio feed of the
discussions but has asked them not to report what they hear
using social media says Jamie Love of KEI. "The ban
specifically singled out 'twitter, blogs, news reports, and
email lists’ and extends to social media in
general," he says.
WIPO has a tricky balancing act to perform. It needs to provide
negotiators with an environment that allows them to negotiate
freely but must also ensure that discussions are transparent
enough to protect the final deal from charges of being a back
room stitch-up between rich countries. We wish them luck.