Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Protection of slogans – the Madrid System

The WIPO-administered Madrid system for the international registration of marks is an international procedural mechanism that offers trademark owners the possibility to obtain protection for their marks in several countries, by simply filing one application through their national office. The granting of protection in each country that is designated in an international registration, including those of marks incorporating slogans, is determined by the corresponding national trademark office, in the light of the applicable legislation.

The Madrid system allows for the international registration of various types of marks, among them, those resulting from the combination of letters or words, which – of course – include the possibility of registering slogans. Slogans registered using the Madrid system include, for example,

* “Have it your way,” registered by the Burger King Corporation to distinguish hamburgers, steak and fish sandwiches and other related products;
* “Chesterfield: Être absolument femme,” (Chesterfield: Be absolutely woman) registered by DIM to distinguish, among others, ladies' lingerie;
* “We’re talkin’ serious”, registered by Ford’s Foods, Inc. to distinguish sauces and salsa used in cooking or with chips;
* “Style on skin,” registered by Lacoste to distinguish, clothes, footwear and head wear;
* “Longines l’élégance du temps depuis 1832,” (Longines, time elegance since 1832) registered by the Longines Watch Company to distinguish watches and chronometric instruments; and
* "Passionate about creativity,” registered by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton to distinguish various clothing and accessories products. -WIPO

L’Oréal, Because you're worth it

The famous l’Oréal slogan “Because you’re worth it,” registered at the USPTO in 1976, has evolved with the company’s customers over the years. “Parce que je le vaux bien” and its English translation “Because I’m worth it” became popular in the late 1990s. In 2004, l’Oréal advertising started targeting the ever-growing cosmetics market for men with “Because you’re worth it too.” Then in 2009, their advertising started using “Because we’re worth it” and for kids “Because we’re worth it too.” The shift to “we” followed a psychology-based study of l’Oréal’s consumer base. "We" apparently creates stronger consumer involvement in l'Oréal’s philosophy and lifestyle and provides more perceived consumer satisfaction with l'Oréal products.

As l'Oréal celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009, it continued to re-create itself, making ever stronger trademarks. A simple Madrid system database search yields 1,892 international trademark registrations for l’Oréal. The company also seeks to remain at the cutting edge of the cosmetics and beauty industry through research and development. It is reportedly the top nanotechnology patent-holder in the U.S. -WIPO

WIPO Unveils New Logo

WIPO unveiled its new logo on April 26, 2010 – a date which marks the 40th anniversary of the entry into force of the WIPO Convention and the 10th anniversary of World Intellectual Property Day. The new logo forms the cornerstone of a new visual identity for the Organization, in line with the new directions being taken to keep pace with the rapid evolution of intellectual property in the 21st century.

The new logo reflects the Organization’s dynamism and innovative spirit, and is a powerful symbol of WIPO’s revitalization and strategic reorientation. It is based on a graphic representation of the WIPO headquarters’ building, an iconic structure familiar to all WIPO member states and stakeholders. The color blue links the Organization with the United Nations. The seven curved lines represent the seven elements of IP, as set out in the WIPO Convention. -WIPO

Muhyiddin urges inventors to file patents early

Inventors and owners of intellectual property should file their patents early to protect their exclusive rights to a product.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who said this, also urged patent owners to seek worldwide exclusive rights to their inventions.

“This is to prevent anyone from claiming the rights to intellectual property owned by the locals,” he told reporters after presenting awards at the National Intellectual Property Award 2010 yesterday.

He said patent registration could be filed through the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO), which provides worldwide patent coverage.

Earlier in his speech, Muhyiddin said the people, especially small and medium entrepreneurs, should fully utilise the country’s intellectual property potential in order to be competitive and innovative as well as to enhance market access.

Muhyiddin said Malaysia planned to reduce the patent registration period even further, from 39 months this year to 36 months in 2011 and 32 months by 2012.

Later at the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry forum on China-Malaysia economic and business relations, the Deputy Prime Minister said China’s rapid development and movement to high-level technology meant that Asean countries must move to add value to their products through research. He also told local corporations not to make too much demands to be shielded from competition from China.

“I want to emphasise that protectionism is not the answer. We have seen time and again that industries that do not adjust and adapt to new business realities end up in a never-ending cycle of dependency,” he said. -the Star

Friday, April 23, 2010

National IP Day, April 26 - 27, 2010

MyIPO is organizing an exhibition and public seminar for National IP Day.

April 26
8.30 am - 12 pm National IP Day Award Ceremony

Public Seminar
2.30 pm IP
3.00 pm Patent
3.30 pm Trademark
4.00 pm Design
4.30 pm Copyright
5.00 pm Geographical Indication

April 27
9.00 am IP Exploitation story overseas: Tokyo, Australia
10.15 am IP Exploitation story Malaysia: Les Copaque, Serenity Spa, CHD
11.30 am Counterfeiting
2.15 pm Financing
3.30 pm IP Clinic

Monday, April 19, 2010

Understanding the Significance of Intellectual Property

Celebration to focus on creativity and innovation, this April 26.

National IP day (Hari Harta Intelek Negara, HHIN) this year promises exciting initiatives, especially to the creative and innovative groups, fellow artists are expected to get rewarded with new royalty incentive scheme.

The celebration on April 26, also simultaneously with 2010 Declaration of Malaysia Innovative celebrates New Economic Model (NEM), which emphasizes the element of creativity and innovation in a comprehensive manner.

Minister of Domestic Trade, and Consumer Co-operatives, Datuk Ismail Sabri, keen on touching the issue of creativity and innovation, let alone this year's campaign focuses on small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as there is still a large percentage of entrepreneurs of SMEs who do not know the importance of protecting their intellectual property, whether in terms of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, copyrights and geographical indications.

"The rationale of the campaign and the Proclamation of Malaysia Innovative in 2010 aims to raise awareness about the need to respect intellectual property rights as we respect the rights of property of others.

"It also aims to recognize the contributions of innovators in the development of the economy. Long-term goals of the campaign is to achieve an innovative and creative culture (shift from consumers to producers of intellectual property), to respect intellectual property rights and enhance the competitiveness of the country," he said of the celebration which will be officiated by Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin .

Many wonder what is intellectual property, its main components, as well as acts involved in this matter.

Simple definition of intellectual property are the creations of mind either in the design, symbols, names and designs used in commerce as well as literary and artistic works, while the components involve patents, trademarks, industrial designs, geographical indications, copyright and layout set of integrated circuits. The Act providing protection for intellectual property in Malaysia involves the Trade Marks Act 1976, Patents Act 1983, Copyright Act 1987, Industrial Designs Act 1996, Geographical Indications Act 2000, and Integrated Circuits Layout Act 2000.

Replying to questions on the status of the amendment of laws and acts of intellectual property today, Ismail said, the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO) is conducting a review of the intellectual property acts and targets bringing amendments for first reading in Parliament.

Among the amendments involved are the Copyright Act 1987 and Industrial Designs Act 1996, in June, while the 1983 Patent Act and the Trade Marks Act 1976 in November.

Each patent will be protected for 20 years from the year it is filed; Trademark protected for 10 years and is renewable every 10 years; for Industrial Designs five years from the filing date and can be extended up to 15 years, and Geography Indication 10 years and renewable for every 10 years.

For issues involving copyright, no registration is required; protection for literature, music and art is provided for the life of the author and 50 years after his death; for other works of protection is 50 years from publication.

As for integrated circuit layout, no registration is required. Protection is 10 years from the day it was exploited or 15 years from the date created should the circuit is not commercialized.

All intellectual property protection (except copyright and integrated circuit layout) is territorial and it is not automatically protected in other countries. This means that registration should be performed in every country where protection is needed.

Ismail said that to expedite the registration of intellectual property, MyIPO is upgrading infrastructure and information technology (IT) training of more examiners and reviewing the acts of intellectual property so that it is current and meets the needs of the international treaty.

"MyIPO provides an online application system to facilitate registration of patents and trademarks. Online search systems have been developed for public search."

"Mindful that awareness about intellectual property is still low, many programs are held such as seminars, exhibitions and publications. HHIN is one of the intellectual property awareness activities that provides impact in terms of increasing the local application," he said.

In addition to the common component of the intellectual property, other components of intellectual property is traditional knowledge, genetic resources and folklore.

Traditional knowledge and genetic resources of traditional knowledge refers to the results of intellectual activity in the context of traditional medical knowledge and knowledge based on genetic resources. Folklore is more focused on the creative process that reflects the identity, history and culture of a community, such as songs and folk dances, traditional costumes.

The most interesting approach is HHIN response to be taken to address the issue of transparency of parties dissatisfaction in royalties collection, which involves the majority of entertainment industry.

"The ministry has conducted a dialogue with the parties involved (composer, musician, singer, record companies, karaoke outlet owner) and taking into account the views of various parties to the amendment of the Copyright Act 1976. Decisions have also have been made to propose the Tribunal Copyright Act.

"We almost did not believe upon learning that popular singers such as Mawi receiving royalties of only RM450 per year. Meanwhile, the modus operandi of company that collects royalties are not known," said Ismail, who will continue their discussion with parties involved in the entertainment industry in the near term. -translated from Berita Harian

Intellectual capital as source of wealth

LET me start by paying tribute to the late Tan Sri P. Ramli whose birthday was last week. His songs and movies consoled many of our hearts when we were students overseas, especially during the cold winter.

If he were still alive today he would be a very rich man because every time his film is shown and his song aired, he would collect royalties or fees arising from his ownership of such works (or assets). Unfortunately, he died much too early to benefit from the reawakening to the importance of intellectual properties and assets now.

A nation is said to be rich with natural resources and savings. It can also enrich itself through greater intellectual assets based on creativity and innovation, which come in the form of registered intellectual properties (patents, design, copyrights, new business processes, traditional knowledge and many others) which can be further developed into intangibles. These assets can be bought and sold or franchised for the benefit of the owners.

In the course of economic growth, Malaysia had developed its natural resources into physical assets, and invariably or finally, some forms of financial assets (cash, shares, bonds and other savings). The last two financial crises (1997/98 East Asian contagion, and the financial meltdown of 2009) could have eroded the values of these assets.

It would be good and strategic for our society to increasingly emphasise on the development of intellectual capital in the form of intellectual properties and to commercialise them into products and services. Such an emphasis must be appreciated by all along the value chain, from research to production, marketing and distribution. Along the way, there will be efforts to improve, innovate and do better. For this, there must be a strong innovation system.

There must also be a strong culture to promote and undertake both fundamental and applied research in both public and private sector institutions.

The discoveries and findings of such research can be translated into patents, industrial designs and business processes, and incorporated into new products and services and processes. With the availability of funding and market, the potential to be derived from the development and value creation of these intellectual assets can be significant.

In reality, this is the basis of the prosperity of Silicon Valley in California, the United States which built its reputation on the intellectual capital of Stanford University and the surrounding institutions of higher learning.

It is also apt to say that the well-known Route 128 in the United States was the spillover effects of Harvard, MIT and Boston Universities in its vicinity.

Indeed our ample natural resources can be the basis on which in-depth research is undertaken to form advanced materials and thus fetch higher value than if they are sold in their original state (crude palm oil, for example).

A conducive ecosystem that promotes creativity and innovations will help evolve a corporate culture and institutional framework as well as mindset as to the importance of intellectual assets among us.

Such a system involves appreciation, recognition and serious support from all levels; decision-makers, managers and workers, all working within an ecosystem that encourages an enquiring mind and a readiness to innovate. Malaysia has yet to develop this culture.

The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumer Affairs Ministry had earlier led the task of implementing the Intellectual Property Policy to ensure that the concern gets its due attention by all. This initiative has to be revisited and appraised as to its impact, if there is any.

Some basic statistics illustrate this point. Our research and development (R&D) expenditure as a percentage of gross domestic product is below that of many other countries. Our annual patent registration is much lower than that in South Korea and Taiwan and way behind Japan and the United States and the European Union members.

Even South Korea is quite in the frontline now in content-based industries, an area it was not well known a decade ago (I stand corrected here, though).

In addition, our R&D work is not pervasive among all production units outside our public research entities, except perhaps among the larger government-linked companies (the likes of Petronas).

Even many of our foreign-owned companies are still largely involved in production techniques based on original equipment manufacturing rather than on original design manufacturing and original brand name. The situation among the small and medium industries is even more disheartening especially in the area of creating intellectual assets.

To infuse greater concern for innovation, we may need to promote more start-up funding or venture capital to provide the initial fund and take the risk of new ventures. Given the credit crunch in the developed West, Malaysia should take advantage of the high liquidity at home to provide our venture capital industry with more funding to underwrite new ventures.

At the moment our intellectual asset protection regime under the Malaysian Intellectual Property Organisation is very comprehensive and consistent with the expectations of World Intellectual Property Organisation and World Trade Organisation, so as to give protection to new technology, ideas, and intellectual assets. In this regard, we are ahead of China and several other countries in the region.

In conclusion, I think we have reached a stage where Malaysians should increasingly promote a culture of respect for knowledge, research and intellectual assets, so that these can be given due attention and become sources of wealth creation in the near future.

We need to be more creative and innovative in a positive manner, lest we become a society that does not display much disgust to “cetak rompak” (piracy) activities. My apologies if I sound crude here. -The Star

● The writer is chairman of Malaysian Industrial Development Authority.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Special Body To Collect Royalty Payments

A special body to collect royalty payments will be set up under the auspices of the Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Ministry, the Dewan Rakyat was told Wednesday.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said however, it was still being studied by the ministry and the industry.

"I am aware of the dissatisfaction among artists over royalty payments collected by private limited companies, which had never been appointed to represent them," he said when responding to a question from Mohd Yusmadi Mohd Yusoff (PKR-Balik Pulau) when winding up debate on the royal address.

Ismail Sabri said the government planned to review royalty payments, which was fixed some 20 years ago, to suit the changing times.

"As we are amending the Copyright Act 1987, we will also review the royalty rate," he added.

He said royalty payments were fixed by the Public Performance Malaysia Sdn Bhd (PPM), the Music Authors Copyright Protection Berhad (MACP) and the Performers and Artistes Rights (M) Sdn Bhd (PRISM) after consulting the music users association.

Ismail Sabri said however, royalty imposed on entertainment centres was based on the size of the outlets and not on the numbers of chairs and tables they have.

"This is to differentiate and facilitate royalty claims between a big and a small entertainment centre.

"Music users, who are not happy with royalty claims, could complain to the copyright tribunal which was set up in 1999.

"However, to date no complaint was made and we will carry out an advocacy programme to create awareness about the role of the tribunal in ironing out disputes," he said, adding that the tribunal would be beefed up with the amendment to the Copyright Act. -Bernama

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Real Price of Fakes

A case between Hewlett-Packard and Times Darkhorse Technology Co demonstrates the courts' determination to combat IP crime.

Hewlett-Packard sued Darkhorse Technology for dealing in counterfeit Hewlett-Packard computer printers. The defendant - Chen Shenghui, the manager of Darkhorse Technology - purchased fake Hewlett-Packard printers to sell to his customers. In May 2009 Hewlett-Packard lodged a complaint with the Haidan branch office of the Beijing Administration for Industry and Commerce, which investigated Chen and seized a large number of counterfeit printers. The counterfeit goods discovered at Darkhorse Technology's premises were valued at Rmb1 million.

The case was transferred to the police before being taken up by the Public Prosecutor's Office. In December 2009 Haidian District Court found Darkhorse Technology guilty of the attempted sale of commodities with counterfeit trademarks and fined it Rmb200,000. As the individual directly responsible for the infringement, Chen was sentenced to one year's imprisonment and was fined Rmb150,000. - Wan Hui Da Firm & Intellectual Property Agency