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5-a-day: Copyright in China, Apple store trade marked and patents in Pakistan

James Nurton

Today’s round up of IP developments covers unexpected copyright strategies, reaction to trade mark reforms in Europe, the figures behind China’s innovation spurt, the significance of the Apple store trade mark and the problems with patents in Pakistan

China’s copyright conundrum

Jeff BewkesAre the copyright industries ever going to get digital? In an interview with Business Week, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes claimed the company is “probably not getting paid for 95 percent of [its] movies”. He also revealed a surprising strategy in China: “I spoke to the president about piracy. We even tried a little thing: ‘How about you can give all our stuff to your people for free, but how about you don’t reship it to every country around the region?’ That didn’t work. It’s a concern.” Bewkes’s “we” is understood (at least by Forbes) to refer to a group of content providers. Who would ever have predicted that the entertainment industry considered offering up its most valuable properties to the world’s biggest country with a note saying “please do not upload this onto BitTorrent”? We certainly live in interesting times for copyright.

Brand owners discuss trade mark reforms

Trade mark reform is on the agenda at this week's meeting of the trade mark committee of AIM in Brussels. The group represents brand owners in Europe including Arla Foods, Coca-Cola, Mars and Reckitt-Benckiser. Members will be discussing the Commission's plans for a new trade mark directive and regulation and a new fee structure for Community trade marks, revealed by Managing IP last week. For those interested in this topic, we will have more analysis and comment on the proposals in our March issue, online from March 1.

Clearview IP infographicSnakes and patents

To mark Chinese New Year last week, ClearView IP produced an infographic on innovation in the country. The pace of development in the country does not astound to the extent it once did, but even so some of the statistics here are striking: China’s R&D spending in 2011 was nearly $140 billion; the country has overtaken Germany, Great Britain and Japan in the number of scientific journals published; and Chinese universities file about 45,000 domestic patents a year (four times more than their US counterparts).

Why the Apple store trade mark bodes well for attorneys

Apple storeApple’s recently granted US trade mark registration for the layout of its stores has attracted great interest. But as our US reporter Alli Pyrah explains, Apple is not the first and won’t be the last retailer to try to protect its distinctive shopping experience, and the USPTO seems to have been pretty rigorous: it twice rejected the application for lacking inherent distinctiveness. Apple ended up having to file 122 pages of evidence including photos and consumer surveys. We’ve become used to epic patent applications in fields such as biotechnology. With trade mark registries becoming more cluttered, and brand owners more innovative, it looks like trade mark practitioners will be writing more long, detailed applications – and their clients will happily pay for them.

Pakistan’s patent deficit

A column by a Pakistani writer in the International Herald Tribune paints a detailed picture of the patent problems developing countries face. Of the roughly 1000 patents filed in the country last year, only 100 were by Pakistani entities. Those included a “herbal crack cream, a solar-fired stove and some new pesticides” but in 20 years the controller of patents, Sabir Gul Khattak, said he couldn’t remember a single idea being financially viable. 

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