The Productivity Commission has published a draft report on intellectual property arrangements, making recommendations and findings on circumventing geoblocking technology, implementing a fair use exception for copyright infringement, expanding the safe harbour scheme, combating piracy with better access to copyright material, making publicly funded research openly accessible, and restricting the awarding of patents. The Intellectual Property Arrangements: Productivity Commission Draft Report [PDF], published by the commission on Friday morning, put forward its package of reforms to "rebalance" the intellectual property system in Australia, saying the current system benefits "vocal" rights holders to the detriment of consumers, and thwarts technological innovation. "When innovation is cumulative, IP rights can reduce the flow of benefits from new ideas and processes," the report says. "Indeed, overly strong restrictions on diffusion can be so detrimental to innovation that it can undo the benefits of the IP system in the first place." The commission addressed a number of issues for the government, including recommending that it make it clear that circumventing geoblocking technology is not an infringement of copyright; recommending that it avoid entering international agreements that ban the circumvention of geoblocks; recommending that the current "fair dealing" exceptions be replaced by a broader "fair use" exception; finding that making better use of timely and cost-effective access to copyright materials would combat online piracy more effectively than punitive measures; and finding that the public would derive more benefit from the length of copyright being shortened from 70 years after death to 15 to 20 years after creation.
Could one solution to lower or control the price of prescription drugs in the United States lie in the hands of the Supreme Court justices? Quite possibly, argues an article published Friday on the life sciences site STAT News. The article discusses a case argued before the Supreme Court Monday that looks at the way patents are challenged, saying the case could "leave a big mark on medicine" and have "huge" consequences for the pharmaceutical industry. The thinking is the case could change the way patents are challenged and, for drug companies, loosen brand-name prescription drugs' protections from cheaper generic drugs. The article generated a buzz within the biosciences and healthcare worlds, but legal experts are doubtful that the case, Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC v. Lee, would have a significant impact on the patents that are so vital to the prices affixed to brand-name prescription drugs -- even in the unlikely event that the justices rule in favor of the plaintiff.
They had been recognizable hallmarks of smartphones for years: Rectangular bodies. But Apple Inc., which had patented the designs, took aim at rival Samsung Electronics Co. in 2011, accusing it of illegally copying the look in its phones. A federal jury in San Jose sided with Apple, stoking fears in Silicon Valley that a rarely feuded-over class of patents would become a minefield of legal troubles. Now, the Supreme Court could put those fears in check. The high court agreed Monday to hear part of Samsung's appeal in the long-running dispute with Apple.
Smart robots seem to be everywhere. Whether they're performing surgery, trouncing Go champions or generating dreamy artwork, computers programmed to learn on their own are growing more intelligent by the day. Southwestern Law School professor Ryan Abbott believes that computers are even generating patentable subject matter. We just don't know about it, he says, because disclosing it on an application might render the invention unpatentable. "Now that very large companies like IBM, Pfizer and Google are investing heavily in creative computing, it's going to play a much greater role in innovation in the future," he says.
In the era of live streaming and free music via the internet, the music industry has continuously castigated video sharing sites like YouTube for not paying enough for the music content it provides. As a result, content and music creators alike are asking for the reform of European copyright law so that it complies with safe harbor conditions. Safe harbor regulations are defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Inspector General as "various payment and business practices that, although they potentially implicate the Federal anti-kickback statute, are not treated as offenses under the statute." More specifically, the requests are being made so that users on sharing services like YouTube can avoid possible copyright infringement. A potential directive could require that publishers and producers alike disclose to authors and music artists their profits from copyrighted work, the BBC reported on Wednesday.