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Utynam's Heirs




What is it with senior IP leaders and their fondness for singing? Yes, we're thinking of Chief Judge Randall Rader, and now Peter Cheung...

Peter Cheung’s swan song

The heads of IP offices understandably attract a lot of attention for the influence they have in shaping the IP environment. David Kappos, for example, was widely credited for bringing substantial improvements to the functioning of the USPTO. This is true even for the leaders at smaller IP offices. Earlier this month, Managing IP reported that Peter Cheung of Hong Kong's IP Department will retire in May. Cheung is rightfully credited with pushing Hong Kong's IP trading strategy and jumpstarting reform of the city-state's patent system.

But what he will be remembered for, or even immortalised for, is his love of music and his tendency to break out in song. The attendees of the 2012 BIP Asia keynote luncheon can attest to this: during it AprilCheung serenaded the entire room with a self-penned ode to the wonders of intellectual property. This was not a one-off. Cheung has staged impromptu performances on several occasions, though not always about intellectual property.

Utynam hasn't had a chance to ask Cheung what his plans are post-retirement, but expects he will be working on his music. Hopefully, even if he is no longer helping to protect intellectual property, he will be dedicating his time to creating it.

Body of IP

How would you describe IP enforcement? At a recent seminar in London ("Black Swans, Corporate Risk and Intellectual Property"), Edwards Wildman partner Akash Sachdeva said: "IP rights are like muscles – they need to be exercised or they atrophy."

Sachdeva, a litigator, was urging his audience not to be afraid of taking action to enforce rights. It's a catchy soundbite, but is it true? When Managing IP tweeted his statement, @TangibleIP responded: "Bad analogy. What about effective IP that does not need to be 'exercised'?"

Utynam thinks Akash's physical analogy could be useful in the debate taking place in the US about patent trolls, litigation abuse and court reform. But is it right that IP rights are like muscles? We wonder if they might also be compared to other parts of the corporate body – the bones (holding the business together, but liable to break if attacked too strongly) or the vital organs (necessary to keep things ticking over, but tend to wear out over time – particularly if not taken care of).

All this speculation begs a further question: if your IP portfolio were a body, whom would it resemble? Is IBM Arnold Schwarzenegger – old and muscle-bound? Is Apple more akin to pop star Beyoncé – lacking big muscles but otherwise perfectly formed? Suggestions please to mip@managingip.com .

Crushing the competition

While Utynam is an infrequent user of video games, he found the industry's response to Candy Crush Saga's US trade mark application for 'Candy' rather playful.

Soon after the USPTO published the mark (but before it was registered), Candy Crush maker King.com rushed out notices of infringement to rival developers including Danny Hsu, maker of All Candy Casino Slots.

In response, a competition called Candy Jam was launched, the requirements of which were to produce a game with "candy" in the title.

The organisers did not sugar-coat their explanation. "Why? Because trademarking common words is ridiculous and because it gives us an occasion to make another gamejam :D

Rules: make a game involving candies, consider using the word 'candy' several times, also 'scroll', 'memory', 'saga', 'apple' and 'edge' might give bonus points."


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