Wednesday, 26 August 2015

IP rights in Europe: a follow-up study

Intellectual Property Rights and Firm Performance in Europe: An Economic Analysis is the title of the 100-page report produced by the Office for Harmonisation in the Internal Market (OHIM). According to the Foreword:

The study on the contribution made by IPR-intensive industries to the EU economy carried out in 2013, in partnership with the European Patent Office, demonstrated the importance of those industries. It showed they support directly or indirectly 35% of jobs, almost 39% of the EU’s GDP and 90% of external trade. 
OHIM, through the European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights, has now carried out a follow-up study delving deeper into the influence of these rights at the firm or company level. This study, based on official public financial data from more than 2.3 million EU firms, covers companies which own patents, trade marks and designs at both national and at EU level. 
The study shows that large companies are four times more likely to own IP rights than smaller companies - 40% of larger firms have registered rights, compared with 9% of SMEs [this raises a popular debating point: do companies have more IP rights because they're bigger -- or are they bigger because they have more IP rights? Neither, probably ...]. It also shows that companies that own IP rights perform better than those that do not [again, there is a correlation v causation issue here]. This is a particularly significant finding for the 1.8 million SMEs that have registered IP rights, since they represent such an important part of the EU economy. 
The results demonstrate that businesses that own Intellectual Property Rights generate more revenue per employee than those that do not, have more employees and pay higher salaries to their workers and that this relationship is particularly strong for SMEs.
These conclusions are interesting and entertaining, but they are only a snapshot of a very large picture and it is still necessary to look beyond them. For example, some of the businesses that have the largest concentration of low-paid workers, such those in the fishing, agricultural and distribution sectors, and in security, construction and healthcare, are likely to have a lower concentration of IP rights too. 

Thanks to Chris Torrero for the link!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

IP and Finance: are there any courses?

A reader has written to ask if we know of any courses or training programmes on Intellectual Property and Finance. Off-hand this blogger cannot think of any, though he feels that there is bound to be one somewhere.

If you know of any degree or diploma course, or any professional training, that is specifically aimed at IP and finance, can you post the details -- or at least a link to them -- in the Comments section below this post on the IP Finance blog web page?

Monday, 24 August 2015

The Value of the Trump Brand: “What is the Brand’s Message”

In the United States, the race for the presidency is heating up.  Donald Trump, the upstart candidate with very little to no political experience, is the front runner for the Republican Party nomination.  Trump has been well known for his real estate holdings and his appearances on the television show The Apprentice, but now is also known for his divisive views concerning immigration in the United States.  In June, Trump made numerous comments concerning immigrants from Mexico, including stating that some of them were “rapists.”  The backlash was fast and severe (rightly so).  In a July 2, 2015 article in The Atlantic, titled, “Is Running for President Donald Trump’s Worst Business Decision,” the author, David A. Graham, reviews some of the response from the business community as does the blog, The Gawker.  Univision quickly refused to show Trump’s Miss USA Pageant.  NBC Universal made the same decision and noted that Trump would not appear on its show The Apprentice.  Macy’s decided to end a line of Trump clothing.  Serta similarly decided to end a Trump branded mattress.  NASCAR, ESPN and the PGA will not hold events at Trump branded golf courses/hotels.  The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) issued a press release condemning Trump and applauding Univision and NBC Universal’s actions. 

In The Atlantic article, Mr. Graham notes that Trump is supposedly worth around $9 billion—according to Trump.  According to a Slate article authored by Jordan Weissmann, about $3.3 billion of that $9 billion is supposed to be the value of the “Trump brand.”  Wow!  That is quite a valuation.  I wonder what it was based on.  Mr. Weissmann notes that some hotels will pay Trump to use the Trump name on the hotel—Trump actually doesn’t own the hotel itself.  Forbes puts the brand closer to around $125 million.  That is still quite a high valuation.  And, it is not entirely clear how Forbes arrived at that number.  (The branding deals with Serta, Macy's and hotels?)
In recent weeks, Trump has maintained his lead as the Republican front runner.  Notably, The New York Times, in Why Donald Trump Won’t Fold: Polls and People Speak, recently examined polling data and concluded:
A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.
In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting.  . . .
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His support is not tethered to a single issue or sentiment: immigration, economic anxiety or an anti-establishment mood. Those factors may have created conditions for his candidacy to thrive, but his personality, celebrity and boldness, not merely his populism and policy stances, have let him take advantage of them.
Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.”
Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.
I am sure that some of his comments have not helped the value of his brand as I believe corporate sponsors will likely continue to run from him.  I am not even sure what his brand will stand for after this is all over—not just opulence for sure.  However, his general popularity is growing in certain circles—how many of those folks will play golf on Trump’s courses?  For more on the “math” behind Trump’s valuation of himself, see Forbes here. 

Huawei v ZTE: a competition perspective

"Huawei ruling: bad news for SEPs?" was an IP Finance guest post from Colm Ahern (Elzaburu) on the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) ruling in Case C-170/13 Huawei v ZTE, in which the CJEU clarified the law relating to the enforcement of standard-essential patents.

Our friends in the field of competition law have also been interested in this decision, as the Editorial in the latest issue of the Journal of European Competition Law & Practice (JECLP) shows. Nicholas Banasevic's piece, "The Implications of the Court of Justice's Huawei/ZTE Judgment", can be found in JECLP) issue 7 at pages 463-464 (extract available here).

Friday, 21 August 2015

"Innovation to Investment": a question of priority, or of timing?

"Innovation to Investment – How to capitalise on your IP" takes place at the Barclay Escalator's London Innovation Loft on Friday 25 September. According to the organisers:
"Intellectual Property should be at the forefront of the mind of start-ups working in the Fintech/digital space.  Whether it is the importance of IP for access to funding, or understanding how to protect innovation and manage risks, a well thought-out IP strategy is essential to capitalising on your innovation".  
In this blogger's view the truth of the matter is that IP is at the forefront of the mind of practically every start-up these days, both in the Fintech/digital space and outside it -- but the difficulty faced by most start-ups is that of having IP in their minds at the right time and for the right reasons. This difficulty is compounded by the fact that, the smaller a start-up is, the greater is the demand for multitasking skills and for getting the timing right when cash flows, IP fees and deadlines and the need to engage with an ever-changing market are all competing for attention, and indeed for priority.

A cynic might be forgiven for commenting that IP is more at the forefront of the mind of start-ups than of many funders, for whom (i) getting their money back (ii) with interest and (iii) without risk are front, centre and indeed practically everywhere else in their consciousness. It would be great if this were no longer so and this blogger looks forward to the time when this happy end will come to pass.

This seminar should ideally be attended by start-ups themselves but in reality it is likely to be attended mainly by those who advise them. IP Finance hopes that the speakers -- Nigel Swycher (CEO, Aistemos), Julius Stobbs (Stobbs IP) and Ash Von Schwan (Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton) -- will bear this need for perfect timing in mind when making their presentations.

Click here for a comment on the event from Aistemos, and here for full information, registration and a map showing where you can find the venue. Registration is free.