Summary: As certain large nations approach bankruptcy, will so-called “IP” become the next battleground?
THANKS to a friendly tip, we now know that “ACTA covers patents” and that “all IP rights under TRIPS means patents.” This latest leak is the scanned document draft, but it’s likely that sooner or later someone will translate it manually (or semi-manually with OCR) into reproducible text, in digital form. From Wikileaks:
The file presents US, Japan and EU drafts of the controversial international copyright and patent trade agreement, ACTA (“Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement”). The documents were obtained by Wikileaks staff.
Here is some coverage and initial interpretation from Digital Majority:
Behind closed doors, the European Union, United States, Japan and other governments are negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. No mandates or drafts are published. The ACTA will contain new rules for the enforcement of copyrights, trade mark rights, patents and other so called “intellectual property” rights. Public interest organisations are concerned ACTA may limit access to medicines, limit access to the internet, give patent trolls free reign and harm the most innovative sectors of the economy.
“The document has confirmed my fears. They want to basically stop everything that can be spread on the Internet, all forms of trademark infringement, and even medicine. It is much more far reaching than I thought. I wonder, finally, what is not covered by ACTA?” said Jens Holm to DN.se.
Here is our local copy of the ACTA drafts
We are already discouraged to find that IBM, the quiet giant whose business moves abroad (thus degrading work conditions for all) and patent portfolio widens (or gets a lot thicker), may capitalise on some of the above. This new article discusses the role of intellectual monopolies in an IBM/Sun takeover. Sun’s policies on patents — including on software patents — would become utterly worthless.
To achieve negotiating leverage this is a potent and potentially powerful tool in the right hands. And the fact that the technical analysis is subjective only adds to this power. To counter such a strategy one needs a story and one needs to be able to speak the language and understand the motivations of the acquirer who wants to exploit this advantage.
Now, I don’t know if something similar to this scenario is being played out now, but I do know that IBM is an “IP smart acquirer” and I also note that the Sun share price is heading south quickly as news of the deal’s collapse is absorbed. Is IBM using IP and potential concerns about what is in Sun’s portfolio to leverage a lower price for the acquisition? I suppose we will find out soon enough.
Speaking of a patent deform, this article shows just how much of a farce it continues to be (albeit nowhere as harmful of the ACTA). As Pamela Jones put it yesterday, “I suggest they shouldn’t call it First to File. They should call it First to File Sneaky. See what happens when Congress “fixes” patent law? Is it stupid or intended? Who knows? Does it matter? One thing is for sure: this isn’t making patent law simpler.”
Here is a personal take (which is based on opinion alone, inspired by facts): A lot of the powerful countries as we know them have come to rely on the capital of large corporations within their sovereignty. That. however, is beginning to change with more nationalisation (even in implicit ways like a bailout). As nations that are old empires approach possible declaration of bankruptcy (US debt exceeds $11 trillion and the UK’s is around $3 trillion), there will likely be a power struggle around notions like “IP”. In case a practical example helps, think of an African nation being offered “access to IP” in exchange for its natural resources like gold and minerals. The vision that’s presented to stake-holders motivates and rationalises many of those notorious agreements that we see now, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and now ACTA. Here in this Web site we’ve accumulated many links to information about ACTA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. People are encouraged to learn and to disseminate information about ACTA. █