Posts in Business

Now More Than Ever, IP Practitioners Need to Be Better Business Partners

If you’ve worked in-house, you’ve probably been told at some point to “do more with less.” Initially a response to the Great Recession, business scrutiny over legal budgets persists: according to a recent survey of general counsels performed by EY and Harvard Law, GCs expect 25% greater workloads in the next three years while 88% of them plan simultaneous budget cuts. At the same time, research also shows that legal productivity is stagnating. Eighty-one percent of GCs surveyed by Gartner reported legal cost as a percent of company revenue increased or stayed the same during the past two years. These trends obviously put practitioners in a tough spot: how do you deliver on your value proposition while workloads are increasing, resources are constrained, and productivity is stagnating?

Live, Work and Play in a Legal Metaverse: Preparing for a New Online Existence

Companies spend billions and invest heavily in technologies that offer greater telepresence and enable an individual’s digital life. Will humans interact with each other via avatars in a three-dimensional virtual space?  The “Metaverse” has ramifications for everything people do to live, work and play together digitally. The Metaverse is a digital shared space where everyone can seamlessly interact in a fully immersive, simulated experience. The Metaverse increases the permeability of the borders between various digital environments and the physical world. In the Metaverse, you can interact with virtual objects and real-time information. A place where people join together to create, work, and spend time together in an environment that mixes what is virtual and what is real.

When the Secret Enables the Brand: The Long-Lasting Listerine License

Question: how do you make money from a secret formula for a product that smells and tastes horrible and that no one wants? Answer: you make everyone believe they have a medical problem that only this stuff can solve. Back in 1879, Joseph Lawrence, a St. Louis doctor, was experimenting with surgical disinfectants. This was a new thing. In the 1860s, a British surgeon named Joseph Lister was the first to perform surgery antiseptically, using carbolic acid as a disinfectant. Inspired by Lister, Lawrence came up with a compound of alcohol and essential oils that seemed to kill whatever bugs it touched. To honor Lister (and presumably to take advantage of his fame), Lawrence named the concoction “Listerine.”

Cloudflare Tests Limits of Contributory Copyright Infringement

One recurring thorn in the side of copyright owners is Cloudflare, the San Francisco-based web performance, optimization, and security company. Cloudflare offers many services to its customers, including a content delivery network that utilizes hundreds of servers around the world to cache its customers’ content. When an end user requests content from one of Cloudflare’s customers, it is delivered to that user from the cached copy on the nearest Cloudflare server—not the customer’s own web host server. This saves on bandwidth costs, improves security, and decreases page load times. It also raises important questions about Cloudflare’s liability for contributory copyright infringement when it knowingly allows infringing content to remain on its cache servers. Under Ninth Circuit precedent, web hosting services like Cloudflare can be held contributorily liable for assisting in the infringement under the material contribution theory. However, a recent district court decision misconstrued the case law to conclude otherwise in Mon Cheri v. Cloudflare.

Desperate Heroism and the Thunder of a Quiet Revolution: The Rise of China’s Economy and IP System

On October 16, 2021, as I contemplated lessons from my nine years in China, the Financial Times broke a story that rocked the world—especially the U.S. military: “China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile.” China’s recent launch of a nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe at high speed “took US intelligence by surprise.” Military experts quickly noticed that Chinese innovation in hypersonic weapons “was far more advanced than US officials realised.” As I’ve seen happen many times in coverage on innovation in China, our mainstream media is now downplaying China’s achievement (“not much of a surprise,” per the New York Times, and nothing but old Russian technology per Foreign Policy). It’s similar to the objections raised for decades about IP and innovation in China: low quality, just copying, nothing to be worried about. Yet in industry after industry, China is taking a leadership position in technology and its international patents that can’t be won by copying. It comes from leading.

Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing: E-Commerce Platforms Have Curbed Infringement, But Counterfeits and Safety Problems Persist

The full Senate Judiciary Committee convened today for a hearing titled, “Cleaning Up Online Marketplaces: Protecting Against Stolen, Counterfeit, and Unsafe Goods,” in which witnesses explained the continuing challenges of policing stolen and counterfeit products in online marketplaces. The panelists included small business owners, internet platform advocates, academics and retail store representatives.

Claim Construction in Bankruptcy Court? Revisiting Vacatur in Patent Litigation

While many patent litigators have no plans to litigate in bankruptcy court, it is a possibility if the infringer of a client’s patent files for bankruptcy. The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin recently conducted a Markman hearing. How did that happen?  After being sued for patent infringement in district court, the alleged infringer sought refuge in the bankruptcy court, staying the district court litigation. The plaintiff then filed a claim in the defendant’s bankruptcy case, which ultimately triggered the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction. While rare, other bankruptcy courts have conducted claim construction proceedings. As discussed herein, the bankruptcy court ultimately granted a joint request for vacatur, prompting us to revisit the doctrine of vacatur.

Is Your Corporate IP Department a Trick or a Treat? Beware of Spooky Costume Choices

CEOs, general counsels, and other senior leaders in a corporation often take a hands-off approach to IP strategy and execution, heavily delegating these functions to in-house IP counsel and related team members. This isn’t surprising given the esoteric nature of many IP matters and the extraordinary demands on senior leaders coming from all corners. The trust placed in corporate IP departments may be substantial, carrying with it largely unfettered discretion to set the IP agenda. Unfortunately, those outside the IP field may feel ill-equipped to verify that such trust is well placed. The worst-case result may be misaligned IP and business strategies, enormous spend, and missed opportunities.

Acquisition Contamination: The Mythology of the ‘Clean Team’

Have you ever shopped for something dangerous? Back in the 1950s, my mother wanted to buy a pressure cooker to make dinner faster (and use cheaper cuts of meat). That wasn’t an easy decision, because the early models had a reputation for occasionally exploding (there was no Consumer Product Safety Commission then). My father, a self-taught steam engineer, was skeptical that a kitchen appliance could safely contain double the normal atmospheric pressure. But Mom did her homework, researching what the problems were (usually a single pressure valve prone to clogging) and finding cookers with redundant pressure relief systems. It worked for years, and no one went to the hospital. Companies shopping to buy other companies, or to acquire a license to their technology, also entertain risk. That’s because in the process of interviewing potential targets they can become exposed to highly valuable trade secrets. If any particular transaction doesn’t go forward, but the shopper implements similar technology, the disappointed seller may file a lawsuit claiming misappropriation.

Financial Institutions Face Fork in Patent Road

Large banks have a reputation for being slow to change. However, in the past decade, the financial services industry has seen the wholesale adoption and implementation of new technology as firms realize that consumers and businesses are increasingly demanding a strong digital experience. In 2007, Bank of America was one of the first financial institutions to offer a mobile banking application and since then, the rest of the industry has followed suit. Now, consumers could not go without their banking apps ­– imagine going to the bank to deposit a check.

IP/Antitrust Policy Changes are Afoot in the Biden Administration’s DOJ

The intersection of intellectual property (IP) and antitrust law is again a hot debate after a recent speech by the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division’s (“DOJ” or “Division”) Economics Director of Enforcement, Jeffrey Wilder, titled Leveling the Playing Field in the Standards Ecosystem: Principles for a Balanced Antitrust Enforcement Approach to Standards-Essential Patents. Before we dive in on the key takeaways from the speech, and our thoughts on potential ramifications, it bears briefly mentioning how we got here.

Twitch Data Breach is Another Example of Why Cybersecurity is a Must for all Businesses

Just as we thought Facebook’s six-hour outage could be the biggest cybersecurity news in October, hackers were able to expose more than 100GB of data from Twitch. The livestreaming platform – purchased by Amazon for $970m in 2014 – is understood to still be trying to figure out how it happened. While this investigation unfolds, security experts are already warning of the potentially serious consequences for the business.

Assessing How Much an Alzheimer’s Drug is Worth

On June 7, 2021, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave the green light to Aducanumab, a drug developed by Biogen to treat early stage Alzheimer’s, despite the controversies surrounding its efficacy. Biogen stock price increased 38.3% on the day, adding $16.5 billion to the company’s market value. The news rippled across the pharmaceutical industry and lifted stock prices of most Alzheimer’s drug developers. As an example, Eli Lilly stock price jumped 10.2% on June 7, or a hike of $18.6 billion in market cap, because the company also has a similar drug candidate. Subsequently, as the controversies over the Aducanumab approval deepened, Biogen had lost $7 billion in market value by September 9. With all of these multi-billion-dollar numbers, one can’t help but wonder: how much is an Alzheimer’s drug worth? This article tries to assess the market value of an Alzheimer’s drug. It first estimates the implied values of Alzheimer’s drugs by looking into stock market reactions to major events associated with Biogen’s Aducanumab and Eli Lilly’s Donanemab. As a sanity check to the values derived from the stock market, a discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis is conducted to evaluate whether the stock market valuations are rational.

Diversity is Just Good Business

Asserting that diversity has made significant strides within today’s legal profession would, unfortunately, not be a winning case. And while it’s a hot topic today, the true importance of diversity, equity and inclusion seems to be overlooked. The fact of the matter is, embracing diversity is just good business. The practice of law is advanced by a diverse team. With diversity comes quality legal innovation. We need to manage conscious and unconscious bias to be open to people from all demographics, ethnicities, genders, orientations, educations, perspectives and backgrounds. Instead of a homogenous group of professionals with a singular approach, with a diverse team you gain the benefit of differential skillsets, outlooks, approaches and ways of processing that make a team stronger, bringing varied insights to cultures, systems, procedures and policies.

How Technology is Reshaping the IP Management Industry

There’s hardly any area in entrepreneurship today that deals with innovation more than intellectual property rights protection – in fact, cutting edge technology and inventions are at the core of the IP industry. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the real-life practices, processes and management in the industry are as technologically advanced –it’s actually quite the contrary, or, at least, has been until recently.