Monday, July 8, 2013

Who are the innovation leaders?

Global clocks
Have you ever wondered which countries have the best innovation ecosystems? We all know that innovation is important. But which countries are the best at it?

The Global Innovation Index

Last week we saw the launch of the Global Innovation Index 2013 (GII 2013). The Index is co-published by Cornell University, INSEAD and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The GII 2013 ranks 142 economies, representing 94.9% of the world's population and 98.7% of the world's GDP.

The authors recognize that success in innovation requires excellence across a range of input conditions. This objective is difficult to reach for many less-developed economies. The authors note that:
[g]reat scientific centres not only require eminent universities and laboratories, they also require a broader environment of meritocracy and openness to diversity that can attract top talent from around the world. For this reason, it is unlikely that the world’s leading science cities will change significantly in coming decades. . . . The presence of major scientific centres has itself become a key source of innovation and economic growth. This is likely to lead to more concentrated innovation and economic development in the future, increasing the gaps between the world’s scientific ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’.

How it works

The GII 2013 takes a holistic view of innovation. There are a total of 84 different indicators that are used to rank the innovation of different economies. The model involves four overall measures. These are the Innovation Input Sub-Index, the Innovation Output Sub-Index, the overall GII score, and the Innovation Efficiency Ratio.

The Innovation Input Sub-Index

There are five input pillars that capture elements of the national economy that enables innovative activities. These are:
  1. Institutions - political environment, regulatory environment, business environment
  2. Human capital and research - education, tertiary education, R&D
  3. Infrastructure - ICT, general infrastructure, ecological sustainability
  4. Market sophistication - credit, investment, trade & competition
  5. Business sophistication - knowledge workers, innovation linkages, knowledge absorption

The Innovation Output Sub-Index

Innovation outputs are the results of innovative activities within the economy. There are two output pillars:
  1. Knowledge and technology outputs - knowledge creation, knowledge impact, knowledge diffusion
  2. Creative outputs - intangible assets, creative goods and services, online creativity

The overall GII score

This is the simple average of the Input and Output Sub-Indices

The Innovation Efficiency Ratio

This is the ratio of the Output Sub-Index over the Input Sub-Index. It shows how much innovation output a given country is getting for its inputs.

What are the results?

The top ten most innovative countries in the world, according to the GII 2013, are:
  1. Switzerland
  2. Sweden
  3. United Kingdom
  4. Netherlands
  5. United States
  6. Finland
  7. Hong Kong (China)
  8. Singapore
  9. Denmark
  10. Ireland

Down here in South East Asia/Oceania the top ten are:
  1. Hong Kong (China)
  2. Singapore
  3. New Zealand (17th overall)
  4. Korea (18th overall)
  5. Australia (19th overall)
  6. Japan (22nd overall)
  7. Malaysia (32nd overall)
  8. China (35th overall)
  9. Thailand (57th overall)
  10. Mongolia (72nd overall)

The innovation leaders

The top 25 countries, including New Zealand and Australia, are described as 'innovation leaders'. Apparently we
'have succeeded in creating well-linked innovation ecosystems where investments in human capital thrive in fertile and stable innovation infrastructures to create impressive levels of innovation outputs'.
There is always room for improvement. But it is good to sit back for a moment and recognise that we're doing something right.

Photo courtesy of author under Creative Commons licence.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

The halftime report

Mount Cook, New ZealandIs it July already? It's time to reflect on which PatentBuff posts published this year have been most popular. There's a real range here.

Once again, patent law reform and regulation of the patent profession are hot topics. Also up there are examples of case law on the patentability of software and business methods in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Copyright has also been in the spotlight with our three strikes law and our ban on parallel imports of films.

Pitney Bowes denied printing patent: Is printing information on a mail piece a patentable invention? Or is it an unpatentable abstract concept? The United States Patent Trial and Appeal Board found that this type of subject matter is patent eligible but in this case was obvious.

Brave new patent law: In January this year the Patents Bill jumped to Number 2 on the Order Paper. My optimistic predictions were that the Committee of the whole House would consider the bill within the next few weeks. I was wrong. We all were. I don't make those sort of predictions any more.

The last of the patent attorneys: Patent attorneys are a rare breed in New Zealand. Under a new regulatory framework announced this year we are going to become even scarcer. Or maybe we are simply going to see fewer registered patent attorneys who do not do patent attorney work.

Research Affiliates and the unpatentable index: A judgment from the Federal Court of Australia sets out some new approaches to assessing subject matter eligibility for business method claims. These approaches are based on the product of the claimed method, the description of that method in the body of the specification, and the extent of computer implementation.

Canada's purposive proposal: A few years ago the Canadian Federal Court of Appeal issued a decision involving and the company's 'one-click' patent application. As a result of the decision, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (CIPO) has put in place a new approach for computer-implemented inventions.

Ten years on: This year I passed a significant milestone. I have spent ten years as an equity partner in an IP law firm. So what's changed over the last decade? My take on social networking, communication, virtual law firms, alternate business models, and the multi-generational workforce.

The national phase workaround: New Zealand is in the process of overhauling 60-year old legislation. The new Patents Bill is intended to create a balanced patent system that will protect inventions and encourage innovation. One of the challenges imposed on the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) is to put in place a new computer system that will handle both sets of laws seamlessly. IPONZ has been providing workarounds to address the inevitable glitches in their system. One glitch is that the new system is unable to handle cases in which an applicant wishes to enter national phase before publication of the international specification.

Curtains for the Cinema: New Zealand has a way of preventing cinemas from having to compete with different formats such as DVD, Blu-Ray, Pay-Per-View or Free-To-Air. The Copyright Act bans parallel importation of films into New Zealand for nine months from the international release date. Government officials are likely to recommend removal of this mechanism. Does this mean curtains for the cinema?

Insurance method patent okay says IPONZ: In a decision published this year, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) allowed a patent on a technique for providing data insurance. How would this invention be treated if it had been considered under the proposed law that will introduce a European-style "as such" restriction on the patentability of computer programs?

Copyright Tribunal takes Man Down: This year the music industry won its first copyright case under the New Zealand three strikes law. A Rihanna fan has been rapped over the knuckles for unlawfully downloading Man Down. What is interesting about this decision is that we now have a sense of what sort of monetary penalties an unsuccessful Respondent will have to pay.

Photo courtesy of author DragonWoman under Creative Commons licence.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Curtains for the Cinema - the sequel

Vogelsang - Cinema #4: Curtain, 70s style
The New Zealand cinematic industry can breathe a sigh of relief. The mechanism to protect them from competition with different formats such as DVD, Blu-Ray, Pay-Per-View or Free-To-Air is set to continue for another three years.

The Copyright Act bans parallel importation of films into New Zealand for nine months from the international release date.

That protection mechanism is set to continue for another three years due to new legislation introduced to Parliament today. The only tweak is that the period of the ban will be shortened to five months from the current nine.

The current regime

As I mentioned in a previous post, section 35(3) of the Copyright Act 1994 provides that a person infringes copyright in a film if that person:
  • imports a copy of the film into New Zealand within 9 months of first being made available to the public; and
  • knows or has reason to believe that the film is imported into New Zealand within 9 months of first being made available to the public; and
  • is not the licensee of the copyright in New Zealand; and
  • imports the film into New Zealand other than for that person's private and domestic use.

The advice of the officials

The officials at the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment (MBIE) want this ban to end. A Regulatory Impact Statement prepared by officials sets out three possible options for reform. These are:
  • Allowing the ban to lapse from 31 October 2013 so that retailers can import film titles as soon as they are released overseas on formats such as DVD; or
  • Continue the ban for three years but shorten its period to five months;
  • Reinstate the current nine month ban for a further five years

The preferred option, according to officials, is to retain the status quo and allow the ban to lapse.

The proposed law

The Government is putting forward the Copyright (Parallel Importing of Films) Amendment Bill. We seem to be going with a different option than that recommended by officials.

The Bill proposes to amend the Copyright Act to continue the ban for three years but shorten its period to five months.

Further steps

A Parliamentary Select Committee will now take submissions on the Bill and report back to the House by Friday 16 August 2013.

The Explanatory Note of the Bill notes that the film industry will now have another three years 'to finish converting to digital exhibition technology and ensure that the film distribution model reflects developments in the market for films, particularly online'.

So it's not curtains just yet for the owners of the 120 cinema complexes spread around New Zealand. The proposed law will extend the ban for another three years. Those in favour of the ban would be wise to make Select Committee submissions. Anything can happen during the Select Committee process.

Photo courtesy of author  AndiH under Creative Commons licence.

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