Designer Chinese and IP in China are not contradictions

Is this a contradiction? The People's Republic of China is a Communist state. China is also a centre of cutting edge design.

Try this one, is it too a contradiction? China is infamous as a place for intellectual property piracy of international brands and copyright. China is also increasingly engaged in genuine intellectual property law reform at an international level, see for example International harmonisation of IP laws.

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Fair dealing for satire, but Tintin's not laughing

In Australian copyright law, a new fair dealing exception for the purposes of parody or satire was recently introduced into the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Perhaps unhelpfully “parody” and “satire” are given no definition in the Act.

More helpfully, thanks to an imaginative cartoonist and a miffed copyright holder, the law may soon be tested. But first let's look at the law.

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DVRs and video on demand in Australia

At a time when hot words or concepts include IPTV, Internet Television, Web TV, digital broadcasting and video-on-demand, this post sets out statistics and observations on the growing Australian digital video recorder (DVR) market.

In today's issue of The Australian Financial Review, Neil Shoebridge's excellent article, Seven and TiVo in distribution link, sets out statistics and observations on the growing Australian digital video recorder (DVR) market.

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Industry clusters build competitive advantage

In economics and management literature the business or industry cluster theory gained prominence over recent decades. It was expounded most famously in 1990 in The Competitive Advantage of Nations, an 896 page book by Michael Porter, the American economics and management academic.

Porter and his  research team applied the cluster theory to manufacturing industries, eg for Italian shoes and Japanese cars. The theory has remained in vogue including with governments in Australia.

The cluster theory seems to be displaced in academic literature more and more by discussions on network economics. A common feature of both is their recognition of the rising importance of collaboration in contemporary economics.

The graphic accompanying this article applies the cluster theory to "The California Wine Cluster". It illustrates that competitive advantage is gained when a cluster of industry participants work together to achieve vastly more together than they could working in competition individually.

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Billions made with Internet business exit strategies

This month the future arrived. There were many internet mergers and acquisitions (M&As). There were also internet venture IPOs and old media company reconstructions repositioning to take advantage from new media.

This article is a radar reading of internet deal making developments in this remarkable month, May 2007. Seismic shifts in advertising trigger a great deal of the change.

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Use design briefs to shape your projects

Many projects begin life in a brief. A brief defines project needs and sets the path towards a solution. A design brief helps in the document-intensive job of project definition and execution.

The American design industry veteran, Peter L. Phillips, writes in a recent book that people use various terms as synonyms for "design brief". They include "creative brief", "marketing brief", "project brief" or "job ticket". In Europe, he says a common term is "innovation brief".

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Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours

A recent New South Wales court decision provides a useful reminder on the benefit of having a clear date of contract and a good deal making and contracting process.

The cast of entertainment industry characters either directly involved or mentioned in the case include Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, John Farnham, Leading Edge Events (a concert and event promotion company), and their respective agents, managers and directors.

The case provides valuable lessons on the need to use proper deal making language and process whatever industry your deals are in. Combined with good documents the process protects legal positions for negotiations, deals and contracts.

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Mozilla: An Intellectual Property Monster Story

It was Jamie Zawinski's idea.

In the early 1990s he had been a student at the University of Illinois. It was his good fortune there to be in the team that developed the Mosaic browser. Mosaic was a leap forward compared to then existing browsers, but you had to know your way around it, it was not so user-friendly. 

Mosaic leapt from the World Wide Web platform invented a few years earlier. The Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, had created a text-based browser. Mosaic added graphics functionality. 

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Fashion retailers on the web

The year 2006 marks a turning point in e-commerce in the United States. In 2006 more apparel was sold online in the US than computers in terms of value.

This is reported in the 14 May 2007 issue of the Washington Post (Online Sales Shift: Apparel Outpaced Computers in '06). It states: "Consumers spent $18.3 billion on clothes, accessories and shoes in 2006, up 61% from the previous year. Computer hardware and software sales totalled US$17.2 billion, up 20% from the previous year. Total online retail spending, excluding travel, grew 25% to US$146.5 billion." The source of this data is said to be Forester Research which surveyed 174 online retailers.

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Formats and genres answer copyright questions

How much can you copy? Filmmakers repeatedly ask this question when they are inspired by the plot, characterisation or other elements of a prior film. Being inspired is one thing, infringement is another.

The copyright law limits to copying involve many considerations. For example, the limits are narrower than the ethical concept of plagarisation. They are also harder to apply even though the Australian Copyright Act lists them in sections on "fair dealing". The US "fair use" concept is comparable, but wider than "fair dealing".

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New Media and Fair Dealing: Legal Knock-On

National Rugby League CEO David Gallop Gallop was recently a guest lecturer at the University of Technology. The topic: Sport and the Law. Lightbulb imagines Gallop wouldn’t have been stuck for things to talk about.

The NRL is currently in the middle of a difficult legal stoush involving its major sponsor and pay TV broadcaster. We’ve been watching the story unfold with interest, especially given rights over new media lie at the core of the dispute.

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US publicity rights clearances are essential

Do you have products you wish to export to the United States, a film or book you want distributed there, or a website seeking US customers? Do you also use images or other identifications of famous people without consent in your product, film, book or website?

If you answered "Yes" to both questions you should seek legal advice on whether you need to obtain consent, permission or clearances before you export or publish in the US. This is because of the laws in the US known as "publicity rights". While ultimately specialist advice may be needed from a US attorney, this article is an introduction to publicity rights. It is illustrated by a New York court case involving the estate of Marilyn Monroe.

The court described the case as "a tortuous series of [legal procedural] events" ... over "Marilyn Monroe, perhaps the most famous American sex symbol of the twentieth century...". It ruled there are no Marilyn Monroe publicity rights.

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IP law and IP management ignorance in UK

A 60 page preliminary report has recently been released in the UK revealing the answers by UK companies to 29 questions in a survey about IP. Some survey results evidence a woeful level of knowledge in UK companies about intellectual property protection, management, licensing, valuation and enforcement.

Responses to the survey were received from 1,709 firms of all sizes and in all sectors of UK industry. The report was prepared by the UK Intellectual Property Office and The Institute of Intellectual Property. It is titled "UK Intellectual Property Awareness Survey 2006" [PDF]. It's a very useful report fully illustrated with photos of flowers, hence our graphic here by Dr Robert Thornton, the 18th and 19th century English artist and illustrator of flora.

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International harmonisation of IP laws

As two recent major IP events illustrate, the world continues to progress towards harmonisation in intellectual property laws.

The first is signature of the WIPO Internet Treaties by China, as well as by Australia and others. The second is release by the US of its latest section 301 report monitoring compliance with  the vision of the US as regards desirable intellectual property laws and practices by countries worldwide.

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Checklist of 51 hints for data and IT security

As IT lawyers we regularly advise clients on data theft and computer misuse by employees. As IT users, we’ve had our share of password fatigue and virus scares. And as website operators our firm and its IT consultants have dealt with hacker attacks.

Based on this experience and reading widely (see the reference for this article), here is a list of 51 computer security problems and in each case a brief statement on solutions.

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