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Showing posts from 2008

On the Economics of IP Rights

Trento, Economics Faculty, 19th December 2008: "How much should society fuel the greed of innovators? A critical assessment of the economics of intellectual property rights", Luigi Marengo, Laboratory of Economics and Management Sant'Anna School of Advanced Studies, Pisa.

Competition Policy in a Global Perspective

"A View from the Italian Competition Authority”, Dr. Alessandra Tonazzi, Italian Competition Authority (AGCM), Faculty of Economics, Trento, December, 12.

Interdiction de vente sur Internet des produits cosmétiques et d’hygiène corporelle sanctionnée

Selon le Conseil de la Concurrence, Décision n° 08-D-25 du 29 octobre 2008, "bien que la pratique d’interdiction de vente par Internet ne soit pas expressément visée dans le règlement communautaire, elle équivaut... à une interdiction de ventes actives et passives. En conséquence, pratiquée au sein d’un réseau de distribution sélective, elle constitue, en vertu du c) de l’article 4 du règlement une restriction caractérisée", et ne peut pas bénéficier d’une exemption individuelle sur le fondement du paragraphe 3 de l’article 81 du traité.

"New" Eligibility Criteria for Software Patents in the U.S.?

According to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Bernard L.Bilski and Rand A.Warsaw, the language of Sec. 101 precludes protection of innovation which is not "transformational" or "properly linked to a machine". In the meanwhile, back in Europe, the President of the European Patent Office, Alison Brimelow, refers to the Enlarged Court of Appeal a socalled point of law comprising four questions  concerning the limits of patentability in the field of computing.

Deutscher Bundesrat: Kann ein starker Schutz geistigen Eigentums gleichzeitig bildungs- und wissenschaftsfreundlich sein?

Nachdem der deutsche Bundesrat sich bekanntlich  für die Schaffung eines bildungs- und wissenschaftsfreundlichen Urheberrechts eingesetzt hat, fordert er nun einen verstärkten Schutz geistigen Eigentums. Insbesondere hält der Bundesrat für notwendig, anhand von bilateralen Freihandelsabkommen der EU, "Mindeststandards zum Schutz des geistigen Eigentums zu verankern" und "Lücken von TRIPS (Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) bei der Umsetzung in nationale Rechtsordnungen zu schließen". Unter anderen müsste "eine stärkere Bewusstseinsbildung für die Werte des geistigen Eigentums geschaffen werden"

Remote Storage Video Recorder System and US Copyright Law

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has reversed a district court’s award of summary judgment to Cablevision, stating the the "Remote Storage” Digital Video Recorder system ("RS-DVR") proposed by the latter violated the Copyright Act by infringing plaintiffs’ exclusive rights of reproduction and public performance. In the case at issue, the RS-DVR system allows television users to record cable programming on central hard drives housed and maintained by Cablevision, an operator of cable television systems. RS-DVR customers may then receive playback of those programs through their home television sets, using only a remote control and a standard cable box equipped with the RS-DVR software. The customer can record programming by selecting a program in advance from an on screen guide, or by pressing the record button while viewing a given program. Once the program has begun, the customer cannot record earlier portions of it. If multiple people decided to record t…

Open Access for Fashion Design

Interesting use of Creative Commons Licences...The Berlin-based fashion label Pamoyo releases the designs for its clothes under a CC BY-NC-SA licence. Everybody is allowed to build upon Pamoyo's creations, provided that the new fashion design is released publicly under the same CC terms.

EU Report on Motor Vehicle Block Exemption Regulation: No Diversity in Distribution Formats

In its Evaluation Report on the operation of Regulation 1400/2002 concerning motor vehicle distribution and servicing, the European Commission comes to the conclusion that, as far as the goal of increasing competition between dealers by promoting diversity in distribution formats is concerned, this was far from achieved ( pp.5-6) - perhaps not unexpectedly, see a short comment I had written some time ago.

OLG Düsseldorf: Schadenersatzklage gegen Zementhersteller zugelassen

Das Oberlandesgericht Düsseldorf hat am 14.05.2008 entschieden, dass die Schadenersatzklage einer Aktiengesellschaft belgischen Rechts (Cartel Damage Claims - CDC) wegen Kartellrechtsverstößen zulässig ist. Die Klägerin hatte sich sich von 36 zementbeziehenden Unternehmen Schadensersatzansprüche abtreten lassen. Nach Meinung des Gerichts habe die Klägerin die Berechnungsgrundlagen dargelegt und den Mindestschaden ausreichend beziffert. Hinzu kommt, dass das OLG für eine Revision vor dem Bundesgerichtshof keinen Anlass sieht. Daher wird nun das Landgericht über die Begründetheit der Klage entscheiden können.
Nach den Ermittlungen des Bundeskartellamtes hatten jegliche Zementhersteller in den Jahren 1993 bis 2002 Preise, Betriebswege und Absatzquoten abgesprochen und Zementimporten verhindert.

Lawrence Lessig's proposal on "orphan works"

Counter to a bill currently before the US Congress, foreseeing an excuse for copyright infringers from significant damages if they can prove that they made a "diligent effort" to find the copyright owner, Lawrence Lessig suggests in an article published in the New York Times that:
- the copyright owner, after a 14-year period, should be required to register a work with an approved, privately managed and competitive registry and pay $1
- this rule should not apply to foreign works, or to work created between 1978 and today
- photographs and other difficult-to-register works should be subject to this rule depending on the technology available, both to develop simple registration databases and to make research handy and reliable.

Conseil de la concurrence: exclusivité France Télécom-groupe France Télévisions pour la "télévision de rattrapage" licite

Au sujet des critères qui guident l’appréciation des effets des clauses d’exclusivité, le Conseil dans sa décision a considérés comme décisifs le "champ et de la durée de l’exclusivité ainsi que des justifications techniques ou des contreparties économiques de l’accord".
Même si l'exclusivité porte sur les programmes du type "premium", les opérateurs ADSL concurrents pourraient, selon le Conseil, "proposer à leurs clients d’autres services interactifs que ceux qui font l’objet du partenariat" ou "développer des partenariats avec les autres diffuseurs pour une diffusion en rattrapage de leurs programmes". Quant à la durée, de deux ans à compter du lancement du service, soit au plus tard à compter du 1er juillet 2008, elle n'est pas jugée "excessive".
En plus, le partenariat exclusif réponderait "à une logique économique pour toutes les parties concernées". Les produteurs seraient satisfaits parce que "France Télév…

Appeal against Skype GPL Munich court decision withdrawn

A district court in Munich (Landgericht München I)ruled in July 2007 that Skype had violated the GNU General Public Licence 2.0 because it had sold a SMC Networks Linux-based VoIP telephone (WSKP100) without providing both the copy of the license and the source code of the software. In particular, together with the product, there was only a leaflet pointing to an URL where the text of the license and "information on obtaining access to the GPL Code" could have been obtained, whereas according to art. 1 GPL v. 2.0, the licensee is required to "give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this Licensealong with the Program". Moreover, art.3, par.1 together with par.3, requires the licensee to accompany the program/product either with the "complete corresponding machine-readablesource code" or to offer access to copy the source code from a designated place, provided in the latter case that distribution of executable or object code is made by offering…

Event Studies and Competition Policy

Are the results provided by stock market event studies potentially delivering useful evidence to competition authorities? Probably not, according to a Paper published on the UK Competition Commission website.

FTC supports broader jurisdiction over non-profit

Testifying before Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on proposed ‘Federal Trade Commission Reauthorization Act of 2008, the Commission supported repealing FTC Act's exemption for certain non-profit entities, such as in health-care, see the Prepared Statement.

New Antitrust Law in China

The new Antimonopoly Law (AML) will go into effect in August 2008. See a first comment by NERA consultants Fei Deng and Gregory Leonard. Cfr. also Lorenz, Moritz, The new Chinese Competition Act, In: European competition law review ; 29(2008), 257-263

Bundeskartellamt: Abwägungsklausel in der Fusionskontrolle angewendet

Laut einer Pressemitteilung der deutschen Wettbewerbsbehörde überwiegen bei der Übernahme von sieben Tochtergesellschaften der Orion Cable durch KDG die Vorteile für den Wettbewerb die Nachteile. Im Übrigen konnten die Zusammenschlussbeteiligten nachweisen, dass aufgrund des Zusammenschlusses Verbesserungen der Wettbewerbsbedingungen auf den Märkten für Breitbandanschlüsse (DSL) und für schmalbandige Anschlüsse eintreten werden.

2004 EU Microsoft Decision: Third set of fines (€ 899 million) against Microsoft for non-compliance

Decision adopted under Article 24(2) of Regulation 1/2003.
According to the EU Commission, Microsoft charged unreasonable prices for access to interface documentation for work group servers during a period starting on 21 June 2006 to 21 October 2007. As from 22 October 2007 Microsoft changed its previous conditions, providing for a licence giving access to the interoperability information for a flat fee of €10 000 and an optional worldwide patent licence for a reduced royalty of 0.4 % of licensees’ product revenues. See also Commission MEMO/08/125 and the transcript (on Groklaw) of Neelie Kroes Statement.

SUBITO Dokumentenlieferdienst: Neue Bedingungen

Nach einem Heise Bericht vom 24.02.2008:
- der Endkunde kann das per E-Mail-Lieferung gekaufte Dokument "ansehen und zweimal ausdrucken";
- spätestens einen Monat nach dem Datum der Lieferung läuft das elektronische Dokument zudem unwiderruflich ab "und ist nicht mehr zugänglich";
- jede Seite des Ausdrucks wird mit einem Wasserzeichen versehen;
- Subito explizit angeschlossene Lieferbibliotheken dürfen Kopien nur noch über den Dienst ausliefern, und nicht mehr etwa über andere übliche Leihverkehrsordnungen;
- Preise für den elektronischen Versand wurden auf mindestens 7,75 Euro angehoben;
- Subito führt bei den PDF-Kopien auf Lizenzbasis im Gegensatz zu den auf minimal 6,50 Euro festgesetzten Fax- oder Postlieferungen keine Kopiervergütung mehr an die VG Wort ab;
- Subito und die Lieferbibliotheken sollen innerhalb von 18 Monaten die Möglichkeiten schaffen, binnen Jahresfrist höchstens zehn Kopien aus einer einzelnen Zeitschrift pro Institution (oder auch Kundenbiblioth…

ECJ ruling on responsibility for antitrust infringement

Case C-280/06 Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato v. Ente tabacchi italiani .
The questions referred for a preliminary ruling by the Consiglio di Stato related to an infringement committed by an entity which then underwent a legal and organisational change (measures taken by the legislature in view of the entity's privatisation). The Court makes clear that:
- " When ... an entity infringes competition rules, it falls, according to the principle of personal responsibility, to that entity to answer for that infringement;
- "As to the circumstances in which an entity that is not responsible for the infringement can nevertheless be penalised for that infringement, it must be held first that this situation arises if the entity that has committed the infringement has ceased to exist, either in law... or economically; otherwise "undertakings could escape penalties by simply changing their identity through restructurings, sales or other legal or organisational ch…

Antitrust/IP: FTC challenges settlements with generic drug manufacturers on Provigil

The suit has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against Cephalon. According to the Commission, Cephalon, faced with threat to its Provigil monopoly, paid more than $200 million to generic drug companies to abandon their patent challenges and forgo entry into the market until April 2012. As Cephalon's CEO allegedly put it shortly after entering these settlements: "We were able to get six more years of patent protection. That's $4 billion in sales no one expected".
The FTC is clearly taking the issue very seriously, see also here.

At the intersection between copyright and trademark law: Federal Court of Australia on Polo/Lauren's embroidered polo player logo

It would seem rather obvious that firms should not be entitled to control the market for their products "only" by devising a label or a package in which copyright will subsist. This principle has been clearly spelled out by the Federal Court of Australia in The Polo/Lauren Company L.P. v Ziliani Holdings Pty Ltd [2008] FCA 49 (5 February 2008). The issue involved an injunction to restrain importation and sale of clothing bearing embroidered polo player logo without licence of the owner of copyright, whereas the logo was lawfully embroidered in country of manufacture with licence of owner of copyright. The Court ruled, relying on s 44CCopyright Act (socalled exception of a non-infringing accessory) that the the importer is entitled to engage in parallel importing of those goods into Australia. In particular, the embroidered polo player logo was not primarily a decorative feature, but "a symbol to convey that the clothing was made by the Ralph Lauren design or fashion …

Balance between Antitrust and IP Laws: Drug Patent Settlement Agreements

The FTC filed a brief as amicus curiae with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on 25 January 2008 urging to reverse a district court's decision that immunized from antitrust laws a pharmaceutical patent settlement agreement. In the case at bar, a patent holder paid a potential rival $400 million to abandon competition and stay off the market. According to the FTC, the patent holder "purchased the exclusion that the patent could not provide". The agreement did not represent the patent holder's exercise of its right to exclude and therefore the patent did not immunize the agreement from antitrust scrutiny.