Sunday, 18 December 2016

ScienceOpen: looks promising, but can it help patent and IP search?

Every so often, this weblog likes to take a look at information-related tools that may be of assistance to the intellectual property community. Today we note the ScienceOpen Research + Publishing Network, this being
"... a freely accessible research network to discover and evaluate scientific information. Search among over 27 million articles and article records, filter by citation or Altmetric score, and share your expertise via comments or peer review".
As ScienceOpen puts it, in rather greater detail:
" ... we’ve just upgraded our search and discovery platform to be faster, smarter, and more efficient. A new user interface and filtering capabilities provide a better discovery experience for users. ScienceOpen searches more than 27 million full text open access or article metadata records and puts them in context. We include peer-reviewed academic articles from all fields, including pre-prints that we draw from the arXiv and which are explicitly tagged as such. 
The current scale of academic publishing around the world is enormous. According to a recent STM report, we currently publish around 2.5 million new peer reviewed articles every single year, and that’s just in English language journals. 
The problem with this for researchers and more broadly [including, we imagine, anyone scouring the prior art in order to challenge a patent on grounds of novelty or inventive step] is how to stay up to date with newly published research. And not just in our own fields, but in related fields too. Researchers are permanently inundated, and we need to find a way to sift the wheat from the chaff. 
The solution is smart and enhanced search and discovery. Platforms like ResearchGate and Google Scholar (GS) have just a single layer of discovery, with additional functions such as sorting by date to help narrow things down a bit. GS is the de facto mode of discovery of primary research for most academics, but it also contains a whole slew of ‘grey literature’ (i.e., non-peer reviewed outputs), which often interferes with finding the best research. 
As well as this, if you do a simple search with GS, say just for dinosaurs, you get 161,000 returned results. How on Earth are you supposed to find the most useful and most relevant research based on this if you want to move beyond Google’s page rank, especially if you’re entering this from outside the area of
specialisation? [good question, but for the intellectual property community non-peered material can be of significance, as when discussion arose as to whether material first shown on 2001: a Space Odyssey and Star Trek could be cited as prior art against the Apple iPad: see here and here] Simply narrowing down by dates does very little to prevent being overwhelmed with an absolute deluge of maybe maybe-not relevant literature. We need to do better at research discovery.
ScienceOpen's vast and impressive editorial board is solidly academic, with no names of obvious intellectual property candidates springing out. The advisory board, though much smaller, is more diverse, with representatives from industry as well as academe. 

How successfully might ScienceOpen be used in the IP community? ScienceOpen is not immediately intended as a facility for IP users if the list of tags on its side bar is anything to go by.  These suggest that it is addressed more to those whose interests and expertise lie in the area of pure science and research.  It would however be good to know if any of our readers are already deploying its search capacity. 

We were alerted to this item by beSpacific, which is well worth looking at -- if you have not already done so.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

The OECD BEPS guidelines -- here's an IP perspective

This weblog has sounded off on previous occasions about the potential importance of BEPS, the tidy acronym that stands for Base Erosion and Profit Shifting [you can check out our previous BEPS-related blogposts here].  Our position has been that this is a topic that has substantial relevance to the intellectual property business and investment community, which has to date taken little interest in it.


We are therefore pleased to see that our friend and occasional blog contributor Donal O'Connell (Chawton Innovation Services Ltd) has put together a short but very helpful paper with the assistance of Dr Alla Sakharova. This paper appears below. While it is written as prose, it will be poetry in the ears of those whose call to take heed of BEPS has so far received the most muted of responses.  This is what he writes:
OECD BEPS Guidelines

The global tax policy landscape is changing dramatically, and the emphasis on intangible assets will shift the scope of service provided by IP professionals.  The new international tax rules are closely watched by the tax professionals but the IP community has yet to really recognise the challenges and opportunities it offers to them.

The Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) is at the forefront of efforts to improve international tax co-operation between governments to counter international tax avoidance and evasion.

The OECD/G20 Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) package of measures has been agreed upon and over 100 countries and jurisdictions have confirmed their commitment to the consistent implementation of this comprehensive package. The package provides 15 Actions that range from new minimum standards to revision of existing standards, common approaches which will facilitate the convergence of national practices and guidance drawing on best practices. Described by the OECD as 
“the most significant re-write of international tax rules in a century”, 
the BEPS package provides countries with the powerful tools to standardize compliance requirements and force firms to be transparent about where they generate income.

An essential new feature of the new regulations is an emphasis on intangible assets. It is increasingly recognized that intangible assets create a substantial part of the business value. However, until now there has been no single definition of intangible assets in use by tax authorities or the OECD, and no proper guidance on how such assets should be reported.

The accurate and complete identification, taxation and valuation of intellectual property and other intangible assets is now recognized as one of the most important areas of the international tax reform and transfer pricing legislation.

OECD BEPS guidelines from an IP management perspective

In the OECD guidelines, it defines intangible assets as including the following categories

• Patents;

• Know-how and trade secrets;

• Trade marks, trade names and brands;

• Rights under contracts and government licences;

• Licences;

• Goodwill.

As a result of these OECD guidelines, multi-national enterprises (MNEs) will now or in the near future need to recognize the value of intangible assets for their businesses. Businesses will need to consider a regular assessment of their value chains to ensure that intangible assets have been correctly identified, including existing contracts and arrangements for the development, enhancement, maintenance, protection and exploitation of intangibles in light of the new international tax rules. These functional and economic assessments and analyses will require a depth of knowledge of definitional aspects of intangibles, ownership issues, identification and characterisation of intangibles and valuation that identifies arm’s length prices for transactions involving intangibles.

MNEs will need to conduct an exercise rather sooner than later to determine if they are OECD BEPS compliant and to take the necessary actions. This part of the conformity assessment checks if the MNE has the skills and competencies, knowledge and experience, process and systems in place to enable the MNE to complete these IP data management related tasks, and if not, what actions need to be taken to remedy the situation.

Challenge and opportunity

This provides a unique opportunity for IP professionals to extend their service offering and aggressively occupy this no man’s land – the area of Intangible Assets and OECD BEPS compliance.

The market research shows that, until recently, transfer pricing and Intangibles have been mostly in focus of the Big Four accounting firms and transfer pricing professionals. However, there are examples of some law firms and intellectual property firms showing interest towards this new area.

OECD BEPS Compliance offers a great opportunity to IP professionals, but to win it requires a cross discipline team with knowledge and understanding of the different forms of intangible assets, their identification and valuation in the context of business strategy and value chain, with experience of the different IP activities as listed by the OECD, with insights into how MNE organise and operate their IP activities, and with an appreciation of the goals and objectives of the OECD BEPS guidelines.
This paper, one of a series on this theme, is a gently edited version of the original, which Donal first posted on LinkedIn here.

Friday, 2 December 2016

November's Aistemos blogposts: a handy summary

Now that November has departed, it's time to review the blogposts on topics that have occupied us, or indeed preoccupied us, over the past four weeks. Accordingly, here's a list of the previous month's substantive Aistemos features. This service is provided for your convenience if you have been away or simply too busy to follow them in real time, and for your general information and amusement if you are not yet familiar with Aistemos and its take on IP analytics, management and strategy. Each blogpost listed below comes with a moderated comment facility, so please feel welcome to respond to anything you read, whether you disagree with it, wish to amplify or clarify its points, or merely provide further links to relevant material.

To check each post out, just click the title:

The UK government announced its intention to prepare to ratify the Unified Patent Court Agreement (UPCA). The UPCA provides for the machinery whereby  European Union-backed Unitary Patents will be litigated. What does this tell us about UK Brexit strategy?

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This is the first in a series of special reports based on the research conducted by Aistemos earlier this year in its IP Strategy in the Board Room project [on which see our post here].  The text below is designed to introduce readers to the continuing growth of importance of the intangible asset, shedding light on what this means to businesses and investors.

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Our attention has recently been drawn to another potentially useful service for the intellectual property community. It's called Omnity and it claims to accelerate "the discovery of otherwise hidden, high-value patterns of interconnection within and between fields of knowledge as diverse as science, medicine, engineering, law and finance". What does Omnity seek to add to the growing and increasingly sophisticated range tools for delivering and analysing information? 

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This weblog has mentioned in the past that trade secrets are in a way the last frontier for effective intellectual property management: trade secrets are often amorphous, difficult to protect and to license safely, hard to value and complicated to deal with in terms of in-house rights management [for a helpful review of management issues click here; for a case study click here]. Being unregistered and having so very little publicly accessible profile, they also pose a huge challenge for the discipline of IP analytics. The article featured here, by Donal O'Connell (Managing Director of Chawton Innovation Services Ltd and the author of a number of articles that have appeared on this blog over the past year and a half), looks at some key issues that currently give cause for concern.

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Economic Approaches to Intellectual Property, a new book by Nicola Searle and Martin Brassell, deserves a spot of serious attention. Dr Searle, currently of Goldsmiths, University of London, has previously served as Economics Adviser to the UK Intellectual Property Office and is well known as having a sense of humour and a level-headed, sympathetic approach to intellectual property rights -- both of which being qualities that appear to have eluded many of her fellow economists.  Martin Brassell, co-founder and Chief Executive of Inngot, has hands-on experience of raising capital for SMEs; he also co-authored Banking on IP?, an independent report for the UK Government. We take a look at this promising publication.

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This post publicises a call for "ugly" clauses in intellectual property agreements -- these being clauses that employ vague, ambiguous or otherwise objectionable obligations on either party.  Specimens of such clauses, appropriately anonymised, are sought for use in teaching by Amsterdam-based IP attorney and academic Alexander Tsoutsanis

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This is a Cipher report on Industry 4.0 which gives a pictorial analytic perspective in order to explain both the meaning and the importance of this term, paying particular attention to patents.

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You can check out Aistemos's posts over the previous twelve months below:

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Thursday, 1 December 2016

Hot off the press: the Industry 4.0 webinar recording is now available

Recent blogposts have focused on the challenges created by "Industry 4.0", a term that is gaining currency in the world of the Internet of Things. These posts include our well-received and much-read report on key technologies and trends, as well as a series of posts relating to "Industry 4.0 through the lens of patents", the Aistemos webinar which took place yesterday.

The recording of yesterday's webinar, under the title "Examining Industry 4.0", has now been posted online for the benefit of those who wished to participate but were unable to do so. Total running time is just over 27 minutes, so it needn't eat into your valuable time!

You can follow the presentations by Marcus Malek and Sebastian Muller-Borges, together with relevant visuals, by the simple expedient of clicking here.