One of my best LesBlog2.0 discussion was with Laurent Kratz, the CEO of Jamendo, an interesting Euro, Web2.0, community building , Music, Long-Tail, FLickr, CC distribution platform (is this a mouthful of what..).
It a good European example on how alternative legal distribution platforms are being launch to focus on the long tail, and dis-intermediate existing IP clearing houses: the local SACEM's which tend to be very cost-inefective IP monetization structures (in France 25% of the profit are used for the high internal SACEM operating cost( covering the salaries of more than 1400 employees....)).
The word gambit stems from the Italian 'gambetta' which means: setting a trap. A gambit is a chess opening, where something is sacrificed in order to achieve a better position. Usually, the piece sacrificed is a pawn, but there are also gambits sacrificing a Bishop or Knight. Usually, the player who sacrifices something gains time or active piece play. A few days ago, IBM announced that it will offers 500 patents for open-source use, the event was well commented across the blogosphere:
They're not the first to take this strategy. I recall Intel doing something similar, pooling patents around development using their chips so that developers could more easily create software without bumping into each other. Companies fight for intellectual property protection for self-interest arguing that without it, people will not innovate. On the other hand, many platform providers know that patents often encumber innovation. With software patents in particular, I believe that they stifle innovation more than they create incentives, especially for small companies. It's nice to see patent giants like IBM taking steps like this.
Why would IBM allow others to use its intellectual property free of charge? In a word: Microsoft. The move is central to IBM's efforts to fend off Microsoft and its Windows monopoly. While the computing giant will continue to innovate and gather new patents as aggressively as ever, at the same time it is stepping up efforts to bolster the world of open-source software. IBM figures that doing so will give it a leg up in selling the software and services that work with the open-source programs it helped develop....
.... It's striking how different IBM's strategy is from Microsoft's. Microsoft, which declined to comment, is building a legal team to enforce intellectual-property claims. In so doing, it hopes to protect its monopoly: When makers sell PCs and servers loaded with Windows, Microsoft has the best shot at selling an array of applications. IBM has a different tack. In a strategy it calls "collaborative innovation," it shares some of its intellectual property, hoping to bolster open-source alternatives to Windows, such as Linux. Such programs are shared by thousands of companies and tens of thousands of programmers...
If you still have doubt that Intellectual Property has real value, check the recent transaction of the IP asset of Commerce One which was just sold for 15.5M$.
On the United States Bankruptcy Court auction block were 39 patents owned by Commerce One, a bankrupt software company in Santa Clara, Calif., that's in the process of shutting down and liquidating its assets. The patents cover a set of key technical protocols known as Web services, a popular method for exchanging business documents over the Internet. The protocols are in wide use today; Microsoft, IBM and other software companies both large and small have incorporated them into their programs.
Yet another good article on IP management, worth reading since its simple and practicle (not the two words you would associate with IP management and spending times with your lawyers…)
The definition of what constitutes a company’s intellectual property is broader than many CEOs realize. Here are some essential things to keep in mind about protecting and making the most of your valuable IP.
Questions to Ask
• Do we have an inventory of patents?
• Which patents are core to our business?
• Are we exploiting them to the greatest possible value?
• Use patents to block competitors.
• File broad patent claims to expand legal protection to other industries.
• License your IP in noncompeting industries.
• Link IP strategy to your technology roadmap.
• Delegate IP protection to your technical and legal teams without fully understanding the issues yourself.
• Attempt to patent every thing in sight. It can cost your company a bundle—with no guarantee of ROI.
• Settle for mere tit-for-tat cross-licensing deals, such as corporate mutual nonaggression pacts.
A recent report from the FT based on interviews with 300 companies, 50 each from the UK, France, Germany, the Benelux, countries, Scandinavia and southern Europe (Italy and Spain), describes some recent alarming findings:
Fewer than four in 10 large businesses in Europe have ever conducted a valuation of their intellectual property assets and only one in five has attempted to tot up their worth in the past year, according to a wide-ranging survey to be published today.
The report, commissioned by City law firm DLA, also found that only 52 per cent of large European businesses had a documented IP strategy, with fewer than 60 per cent employing a formal system for checking whether their IP rights have been infringed.
Lawyers at DLA called the survey's findings "alarming". "IP as an asset gives businesses an unbelievable advantage in their fields. Companies wouldn't dream of not looking at their buildings and other physical assets, or not taking insurance seriously," said Jeremy Dickerson, head of DLA's intellectual property division.
European companies tended to view IP as "a defensive issue" rather than an asset that should be maximised, Mr Dickerson said. By contrast, "in the US, IP is everything".
British and German businesses were more prone to cite difficulties in enforcing trademarks and patents. This was mentioned as the biggest IP challenge by 24 per cent of UK businesses, compared with 16 per cent in Europe overall.
There is some likelihood that the protestors and activists get their wish of weakening the patent system in Europe. This will drive the innovative companies to the US and any other safe haven for patents. The result is that the US economy will continue to innovate and prosper while the Europeans yield to the fickle movements of activists....
...When the European software market turns into a nuclear wasteland, the US market will be vibrant and booming. The most creative and talented people will be working here, developing useful products, starting new companies, driving nice cars, living in big houses, and paying lots of taxes. In the long run, who will prosper?
Kodak wins major Java lawsuit
Sun Microsystems violated a patent held by Kodak when it introduced Java more than a decade ago, according to a federal jury Friday. Kodak, which acquired the patents from Wang in 1997, is now seeking lump-sum damages of over $1 billion dollars. The damages phase of the trial is likely to be hotly contested. The patent concerns the ability of a program to "ask for help" from another application. The jury ruled that the method Java uses to process bytecode utilizes techniques described in Kodak's patent. Critics say the patent should never have been issued since it describes an essential function of modern computing. Opponents of software patents claim that this verdict demonstrates that software patents can cause unforeseen problems and will lead to a chilling effect on technology innovation. Kodak will likely use damages awarded in this case to fuel its shift from a chemical firm to a digital photography manufacturer. More on this ruling here.
The same issue is rising in the wireless space, where Intellectual property has become an increasingly serious problem for wireless technology vendors. Symbol, for example, could use the $23 million it won from rival Proxim to wage a campaign of patent lawsuits against smaller WiFi vendors with limited resources. Fear over intellectual property claims can stifle the development of products in emerging markets. In response to this fear, Via has been pressuring WiMAX patent holders to reveal their IP up front and negotiate fair licensing agreements with manufacturers. Technologists like World Wide Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee believe emerging technologies should be kept royalty-free because widespread adoption of a new standard benefits rights holders, even without licensing fees. The Register as a good note on Patent landrush threatens Wi-Fi standards.
In France, the Strategic Advisory Board for Information Technologies answerable to the Prime Minister was created last March for a three-year term with the mission to compare viewpoints and analyses in order to provide the government with the information required for its strategic orientations in the area of information technologies.
On September 28, an interesting group of experts was nominated inside the Advisory Board :
ABRAMATIC Jean-François Vice-président pour la R & D de ILOG SA
BRAVO Alain Président du Réseau national de recherche en télécommunications (RNRT)
BRETON Thierry Président directeur général de FRANCE TÉLÉCOM
COCQUET Patrick Président directeur général de 6 WIND
CORNIOU Jean-Pierre Directeur des systèmes d'information du Groupe RENAULT
DAHAN Michel Président du directoire de BANEXI-VENTURES PARTNERS
DIDIER Michel Directeur général de REXECODE
GUÉGUEN Claude Directeur scientifique du GROUPE DES ÉCOLES DE TÉLÉCOMMUNICATIONS
GUILLEMOT Yves Président directeur général d'UBISOFT
HALBERSTADT HARARI Simone Présidente directrice générale de TÉLÉ IMAGES INTERNATIONAL
HOURCADE Jean-Charles Président de recherche et innovation ,Directeur THOMSON
KAHN Gilles Président directeur général de l'INRIA
KAPLAN Daniel Consultant, cabinet PROPOSITION ; Délégué général de la FONDATION INTERNET NOUVELLE GÉNÉRATION
LE LAY Patrick Président de TF1
LEMOINE Philippe Président de eLASER
LÉVY Jean-Bernard Directeur général de VIVENDI
LÉVY-LANG André Professeur associé à l'université Paris-Dauphine
LEWINER Colette Senior vice-président de CAP GEMINI - ERNST & YOUNG
MONNIER Joël Vice-président directeur général R&D de STMicroelectronics
MOUNET Jean Directeur général délégué de SOPRA GROUP
OLIVIER Grégoire Président directeur général de SAGEM
PARIZE Isabelle Présidente directrice générale de CANALSATELLITE
PÉLISSON Gilles Directeur général de BOUYGUES TÉLÉCOM
PINAULT François-Henry Président PINAULT-PRINTEMPS LA REDOUTE, Président de la FNAC
RANQUE Denis Président directeur général de THALÈS
ROUCAIROL Gérard Président du réseau national des technologies logiciel (RNTL), Directeur R&D de BULL
SATINET Claude Directeur général des Automobiles CITROËN
STERN Jacques Directeur du département d'informatique de l'ÉCOLE NORMALE SUPÉRIEURE
TCHURUK Serge Président d'ALCATEL
I had an interesting meeting with the CNRS corporate relationship group on Friday.
The CNRS (French Centre national de la recherche scientifique) is a large public research institute covering all fields of science. With a staff of 26 000 (including 11 600 researchers and 14 400 admin/engineer/staff) and a 2004 budget of 2.2 B€ , and 1260 research units, it’s one of the largest R&D network in Europe. My goal was to understand who was doing what there, and how we VC could interact with it...
The IT group (Sciences et Technologies de l’Information et de la Communication) was created in 2002, and is a group of 136 research labs focusing on software, hardware, signal processing, automata, optics, micro and nano technologies and human interfaces.
Its strategy is architected around the following 5 directions
- Networking and IT
- Nanotechnology and Microsystems
- Architecture of complex information system
- Data management and interface
- Virtual reality, robotics and collaboration
It’s large and interesting IP portfolio is available though FIST France Innovation Scientifique et Transfert, a French technology transfer company specialized in the commercialization of patented technologies, which is an affiliate of CNRS and ANVAR. FIST’s team has expertise in intellectual property management, market analysis and negotiating licenses in all major high tech scientific fields
FIST provides its services on a case by case basis:
- Evaluation of innovative project
- Management of intellectual property strategy
- IP licensing and partner search
It’s important that the innovation community (VC, start-ups, entrepreneur, large industrial partners etc...)t and leverage on the CNRS resources. While it can be hard to understand what’s going on inside the CNRS (a large amount of information on the public web site is on the internal intranet which cannot be access without a password....) it's one of the largest expert network in Europe, and should be used.
12 :: Kinnernet 2007 Tel Aviv - Israel
March 15 to 17 in Ohalo Manor, Kibbutz Kinneret, Jordan Valley. Followed by the Marker Conference in Tel Aviv March 18/19 and Mishkenot Shaananim Symposium in Jerusalem on March 20.
11 :: DLD 2007 DLD Conference
Munich January 21-23 2007.
DLD (Digital, Life, Design) is one of Europe's freshest conferences covering digital innovation, gaming, arts and science, bringing together thought leaders from Europe, the Middle-East, America and Asia
10 :: LE WEB 3 Paris
Dec 11/12 2006
I'll participate (with 1000 others ;-)) to was should be a great European tech gathering...
I'm also hosting a Dinner on Wed Dec 13 (register on my blog if you are interested)