Friday, 24 October 2014

T4J: a new business model for journalists?

This blogger has just unearthed an item that arrived a few weeks ago, only to be buried beneath an avalanche of incoming correspondence.  It relates to T4J, or Translators for Journalists if you want to be formal about it.  T4J's rubric runs like this:
Faced with digitization and a daunting task only they can do, professional journalists in every country must overcome the same problem: reporting the facts despite increasingly limited resources. T4J is a high-quality, low-cost means for journalists to obtain content, credit [corresponding to the author's moral rights -- not easy in jurisdictions like the UK in which works written for the purpose of reporting current events or to works published in a newspaper, magazine or similar periodical: see the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, s.79] and income [corresponding to the author's economic right]. Translators for Journalists (T4J) is a multilingual marketplace allowing professional journalists to buy and sell content, translated by expert linguists at local prices.

It is backed by a network of professional translators in 181 countries with long-standing experience in translating press articles in 67 languages.
... 
T4J translators monitor on-line media in their working language for articles of potential interest to foreign journalists. Exclusively with the copyright owners’ permission, T4J linguists translate and publish relevant excerpts, free of charge, allowing foreign journalists to decide whether to purchase and publish the full translation. The translator and copyright owner are paid a commission on each sale, maximizing the credit and income they gain from their work.

What it costs

The price of each article depends on the volume of text and the location of the translator: T4J linguists specify translation prices according to their domestic market, thus optimizing costs for buyers.

On average, it costs 50% less to translate an article than to write it (Sources: Journalist rates, JuriTravail Aug. 2014; Translation rates, Inttranews Aug. 2014).

What you get
- T4J articles written by fellow journalists, for trustworthy content.
- T4J articles written by foreign journalists, for different content.
- T4J articles unindexed by search engines, for new content.
- T4J articles for sale worldwide, for a new source of revenue.
The role of a proactive licensing agent-cum-translator looks like an interesting emerging business model that is ideally suited to the internet era.  Do any readers have experience of this kind of work?

New Frontiers in Open Innovation

IP Finance's friends at Oxfirst are running a free webinar on Monday 3 November 2014 at 16.00 pm GMT, under the title "New Frontiers in Open Innovation" [which coincidentally happens to be the name of a new book ...].  The star performers are (i) Henry Chesbrough (organizational theorist, academic and the man who coined the term "open innovation"), (ii) Wim Vanhaverbeke (fellow academic co-founder with Henry Chesbrough of the European Innovation Forum) and (iii) Joel West, who co-edited Open Innovation: Researching a New Paradigm as well as this new book with the first and second named participants.

So what's this event about?  Oxfirst explain:
"Companies have to innovate to stay competitive, and they have to collaborate with other organizations to innovate effectively. Although the benefits of "open innovation" have been described in detail before, mechanisms underlying how companies can be successful "open innovators" have not be understood well. A growing community of innovation management researchers started to develop different frameworks to understand open innovation in a more systematic way.  In the spirit of an open approach to innovation, the editors have engaged other scholars and practitioners (Oxfirst included) to contribute some of their interesting insights in this book".

Register here (nb space is limited)
System details here

Friday, 17 October 2014

Smartphone app developers:maybe it is not only the birds who should be angry

I recently considered elsewhere the challenges of succeeding as an app developer for the smartphone space. The immediate occasion was the announcement of staff redundancies at Rovio, the Finnish developer of the popular Angry Birds game. In that connection, I raised three points with potentially wider application:
1. How far can viral success of one’s mobile app take a developer commercially?
2. Will positive network effects regarding one’s app improve the likelihood of success?
3. Is it possible to build a mobile game “franchise” that can transcend a one-off success?
Thinking about these questions further, I realized that I had perhaps not fully appreciated the scope of the challenge posed for developers of entertainment and games apps on the smartphone platform. The more that I pondered the matter, the more it seems possible that the smartphone environment simply offer limited opportunities for the creators of original entertainment and game content to enjoy sustained and durable success. This is not to say that users do not make use of their smartphone in a variety of ways by which the user is engaged in content that is accessed on the device. But this content is for the most part matters of news, search, transactions, social media interactions, and other forms of content that cannot be described as original entertainment or games. In reading and listening to commercial discussions of the smartphone ecosystem, nearly all the talk is about who will dominate the market for the device itself, with some consideration about which platforms and content delivery services will successfully layer themselves onto the device. The creators of original entertainment and game content are seldom, if ever mentioned.

For instance, I recall the discussions a while ago about whether Facebook could successfully manage the move from the computer to the smartphone. The answer seems to be “yes”, and the extent that this migration of Facebook to the smartphone enables the user to access original content, the smartphone does provide a platform for entertainment and games. But such possibilities are the exception rather than the rule. Moreover, the big commercial winner in this situation is the intermediator—Facebook---rather than the content creator, who is in some sense at the mercy of Facebook. Indeed, studies seem to indicate that the typical user may have tens of applications stored in his smartphone, but that he or she uses only single-digit number of these apps on a regular basis. This as well puts a premium on the ability of a platform with the potential to distribute original content to users, rather than the accessing of off-off game (even a game that has successfully created multiple entertainment apps under a single brand).

Moreover, there is the question of just how attractive the smartphone screen can ever be for displaying entertainment contents for consumption by users. My anecdotal impression is, at the moment, that tablets are much more popular than smartphones for this purpose (although that impression is tempered by my observations of the manner of smartphone use by teens and young adults on the subways of such cities as Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai and Beijing). With smartphone screens getting larger, tablet screens getting smaller, and hybrid categories such as the phablet appearing, the stark distinction between smartphones and tablets may become less relevant. Still, as a general matter, the smaller the screen, the less likely, it would seem, that the user will view entertain content on it. If this be true, then the lot of the apps developer of entertainment or game content for the smartphone may well be facing limited opportunities, at least if the goal is to develop a franchise brand on the smartphone platform. This may not be just Rovio’s problem, but that of the entire industry.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

"Patents and Telecoms": a forthcoming symposium

"Patents in Telecoms" is a fascinating area for contentious and non-contentious IP experts and practitioners alike. As  the title of a conference, however, it doesn't give away very much information.  A symposium with that very title is however soon to be held in the lovely facilities of the George Washington University's Jack Morton Auditorium, under the joint auspices of leading academic institutions IBIL (the Institute of Brand and Innovation Law, University College London) and George Washington University -- with active support from the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) and  the Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA).

So what is this event all about? On 6 and 7 November, an embarrassingly impressive roster of participants is coming together to review key issues in this tantalisingly difficult sector. There will be a Judge’s Panel with Chief Judge Sharon Prost, Justice Bennett from Australia (who spent nearly a year trying the Australian bit of Apple v Samsung before the parties settled), Judge Deichfuss (German Supreme Court), Judge Kalden (Dutch Court of Appeal) and Lord Justice Floyd (Court of Appeal, England and Wales).  There's also a Regulators' Panel which features major personalities from the Federal Trade Commission, the US Department of Justice, and the European Commission.

In addition to the judges and regulators, there are contributions from some of the most important companies in rhe sector, with speakers from standard setting bodies, operators, manufacturers, licensors, licensees, patent assertion entities, lawyers and industry experts.

Regular readers of this weblog will need little reminding of the importance of FRAND licence schemes [a selection of our FRAND-related posts can be read here]. The symposium offers a panel session on FRAND defences to patent infringement and how to calculate FRAND royalties, moderated by Roger G. Brook (Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP) and with Professor Sir Robin Jacob, Brian Napper (FTI), Professor David Teece (UC Berkeley) and Gregory Sidak (Criterion Economics).

Regarding patents as an asset class, and the issues involved in pricing and trading in them [a topic covered by IP Finance's recent dialogue between Joff Wild and Neil Wilkof, here], Sharaz Gill (Skepsis) is moderating a further panel on buying and selling patents, featuring Will Plut (Patent Profit International), Linda Biel (Allied Security Trust), Duane Valz (Google), Aleksander Mehrle (Sisvel) and Chris Israel (American Continental Group).

There's plenty more to stimulate the interest of the patent-and-telecom connoisseur. To see the full programme and access registration details, just click here.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Money for (old rope) new patents

Money bagThe Australian Financial Review has published an article today report on an initiative by IP firm Wrays and R&D tax advisor Swanson Reed which calls on the Australian government to provide assistance to companies of up to 50,000 Australian dollars for the preparation and filing of the patents. The authors of the proposal argue that Australian companies need support and that their proposal would be cheaper than the suggested patent box initiative.

The initiative is dismissed by Rui Rodrques who is an investment manager at a Sydney venture capitalist Tank Stream Ventures who argues that online tech industries do not need patents and that the support would only go to traditional industries.

220px DPAG 2011 Deutsche Erfindungen TechnikThe proposal is reminiscent of Germany's SIGNO SME patent initiative which supports small companies with their first application in both Germany and internationally. This has supported between 400 and 700 companies in the past fifteen years. The last evaluation report in 2009 reported that the learn process by which start-up companies began to understand the patent process was one of the key features of the programme. However, the "innovation market" project to encourage exploitation of IP did not fulfil its potential. The evaluators recommended that the financial support nonetheless be continued. Similar schemes exist in some other countries, such as in China. This author's experience of the scheme does suggest that the financial support helps to kick-start the patenting process as it reduces some of the financial burden on the company. It also helps start the discussion of the value of a company's intellectual assets to its business strategy and the appropriate protection with intellectual property rights (and not just patents).

The objections to the proposals mentioned in the AFR article are that such schemes do not necessarily help online companies and that the patenting process moves too slowly. It's also true that it can be hard for a small company to pursue patent infringements and that the financial penalties in Australia are low. This traditional view of patenting would seem to discourage start-up companies from filing. On the other hand, patents do provide assets which can be used to strengthen licensing programmes and also provide potential purchasers with additional leverage. A recent study carried out for the France Brevets investment fund suggested that - at least in France - patent savvy companies tended to be more successful than other start-up companies in which venture capital firms had invested.