Monday, June 26, 2017

IP Bridge successfully closed patent license agreement for SEPs on wireless telecommunications

Japan's IP Bridge announced that, on June 22, they entered into a patent license agreement on standard-essential patents (SEPs) on wireless telecommunications (including the GSM, W-CDMA and LTE wireless telecommunications standards).

The name of licensee is not disclosed in their press release. But Chinese TCL Communication Technology is a possible candidate, since it was reported in 2015 that IP Bridge sued TCL for patent infringement on the W-CDMA and LTE telecommunication standards in the US.

This is the IP Bridge's second announcement this month on patent licensing, following the settlement with Broadcom. Is it becoming harvest season for IP Bridge?

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Patent cross-licensing agreement signed between Japanese game companies

On June 19 2017, a Japanese video game developer and publisher CAPCOM announced that they have entered into a patent cross-licensing agreement with BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment which covers "online matching", i.e. player matching in online games.

Though the specific terms and conditions of the agreement have been not disclosed, it may be lucrative for BANDAI NAMCO, considering the number of patents of both companies. (Note: BANDAI NAMCO owns 1238 Japanese patents in total which include 9 patents with File Index (FI) "A63F 13/795" (for finding other players; for building a team; for providing a buddy list), while CAPCOM owns 358 patents in total which include a single patent with the same FI, as a result of a quick search on the JPO's free patent search system.)

However, the stock price of CAPCOM increased 2.7% on the day. A media reported that the CAPCOM's press-release put a good offer for the stock market.

CAPCOM stated in the press-release that they "will continue to explore cross-licensing opportunities". If it is admired in the market to obtain patent license to mitigate infringement risk, reduce development cost and focus on offering their core contents, that would be really great.

For your information, CAPCOM filed a complaint of patent infringement against KOEI TECMO in 2014 for more than JPY 980 million (approximately $8.8 million) in damages and injunction against sales, and it is pending in court as far as I know.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

JASRAC demands royalties from music classes

JASRAC (Japanese Society for Rights of Authors, Composers and Publishers) decided to collect royalties, that is 2.5% of annual sales or the amount decided based on the number of students and monthly due for lessons, from music classes from January next year. 

JASRAC is a general incorporated association that collects royalties on music copyright owned by songwriters and composers from restaurants, TV stations, dance classes, karaoke classes and others. JASRAC now intends to collect royalties from music classes on the ground of "right of performance"* under the copyright law concerning the act of playing musical instruments during lessons in the music classes.

Right of performance* Article 22 The author shall have the exclusive right to perform his work publicly ("publicly" means for the purpose of making a work seen or heard directly by the public).

Responding to the JASRAC's decision, more than 200 companies, such as Yamaha and Kawai Musical Instruments Manufacturing, which run music classes have raised a strenuous objection. And they are on track to bring a large-scale class action lawsuit, that has never happened before in Japan, demanding a declaratory judgement to confirm non-existence of obligation to the royalties.

In a similar case between a ballroom dance class and JASRAC, JASRAC won the case in the Nagoya High Court in 2004, given a ruling that the act of teacher's replaying music before students during the lessons in the ballroom dance class shall be deemed as "performing publicly", because such students can be deemed as "many and unspecified" customers. Considering this, JASRAC may be advantageous in the case against the music classes.

JASRAC enforces copyright under a trust agreement, get royalties, and distributes the profit to the truster. If this is not copyright but patent, they may be called as a patent troll. However, such activities on copyright seem likely to be easily justified, comparing to patent. Maybe this is because users of copyright work generally use it with an awareness of the work having been created by others, i.e. copy to use it.  On the other hand, in case of patent, a patent owner often appears suddenly to assert his right on products which you developed originally and independently. Maybe that is why patent owners are hated.

Monday, June 5, 2017

IP Bridge and Broadcom settle patent dispute

Another story of IP Bridge.

The previous article introduced IP Bridge's activities to promote their innovation business. Today it was reported by Nikkei that IP Bridge and Broadcom settled patent dispute in US and China, since they reached agreement on license fee. T
he terms of settlement are not disclosed.

IP Bridge still has been in dispute outside of Japan with other companies such as Xilinx, as described in the IAM blog by Jack Ellis. Let's keep eye on how IP Bridge monetizes their patent portfolio.

IP Bridge's press release on June 20 is here.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

IP Bridge promotes their innovation business

Japanese sovereign IP fund management company, IP Bridge launched a new website dedicated to their "innovation business".

According to the website, their main targets for the innovation business are (a) SMEs which have a stable business with more than JPY 1 billion (approximately $9 million) in sales and don't have an IP department and (b) start-up companies with less than JPY 1 billon in sales. And they provide such clients with the services of (i) license-out support, (ii) outside IP department, and (iii) business support for developing a new business utilizing their intellectual properties and expanding their business outside of Japan.

Regarding this business, it was reported that in August last year IP Bridge and YAEGAKI Sake & Sprits, Inc. with Lactobacillus culture technology had established a joint-venture company for developing personalized supplement which match enteral or intraoral environment of individual customers, and will start the business in Japan and Southeast Asia in autumn this year.

IP Bridge may expect that this new website gets more potential clients, following YAEGAKI, come for the innovation business. However, many of their target companies, i.e. SMEs not having an IP department and start-up companies, are unlikely to take the initiative to contact IP Bridge for building their IP strategy. Therefore, IP Bridge may need to start with IP education for such potential clients. That will cost time and money, but contribute to the national interest. Considering the characteristics of IP Bridge managing the sovereign fund, they may or should take this role.