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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Indonesia starts on a national IP strategy

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Indonesia's IP Office has started formulating a Intellectual Property National Strategy. They ran a Focus Group Discussion attended by representatives of the IPO, other ministries and Indonesia's IP Attorneys Association (AKHKI) recently.  The Ministry of Law has established a team of National Expert. Their first activity is to conduct a study to review current national policies, as well as to identify the best way to align IP national strategy with other development priorities.

Many countries now use national IP strategies to help drive innovation. China started to do it a decade ago and several other SE Asian nations do the same thing including the Philippines and Vietnam.  A previous OCED study concluded that Indonesian trademark based industries are central to the economy. the International Trademarks Association has also published a study indicating the importance of trademark related industries to the local economies in the SEA region. Ecommerce is now proving a major new economic driver in Indonesia, with VC funded start ups turning into huge businesses. If the team of National Experts can draw all these elements together, many important Indonesian business sectors can benefit.  

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

SEA governments take on the Gods!

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Taiwan based games studio Digital Crafter and UK based games distributor PQube are running into problems with their online game Fight of Gods. The game is a deity-based brawlfest. Buddha, Odin, Zeus, Moses, and Jesus all duke it out to determine “who will lead us to enlightenment.” The game is distributed through PC gaming distribution platform Steam.

First the game got blocked in Malaysia, where the Malaysian government prevented all access to Steam for a day to force Steam to remove access to Fight of Gods. Steam has now geo-blocked the game in Malaysia. Indonesia’s IT Ministry has now issued a warning to Steam to remove it too. A  geo block has been requested within 48 hours, according to Semuel Abrijani Pangerapan, director general of Information Application at the IT Ministry. The grounds are that the game might inflame religious tensions.

Of course these bans are bringing more attention to the game and driving up its popularity.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Monkey selfie case concludes

Naruto the monkey has finally won through. David Slater is a photographer who was working with macaques in Sulawesi several years ago when a monkey grabbed his camera and took some photos including the now famous selfie - see here for previous reports. As owner of the camera Slater tried to assert his rights to the photo. In court PETA asserted that non humans can own IP rights. At least full equal rights have over many years vested slowly, so by logical extension animals, even AI programs may one day own IP. 

Well a deal has been done which allows the court case to die quietly. In fact the laws are relatively clear that humans must on IP. Anyway there was limited financial value to the case. Naruto was awarded a percentage of Slater’s future royalties for the photo. These will probably be limited one expects, so probably there is a little face saving around this. 

IP Komodo applauds all cases involving Indonesian animals naturally. He wonders who owns copyright in his blog now?  And which rights organization he needs to threaten to bite to collect his royalties?! Pass the answers to Naruto as well please!

Copyright royalty collections in Vietnam

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Collection of copyright royalties for music paid in public is a complex business. There are multiple rights involved and multiple copyright owners. In SE Asian countries a number of disputes have played out as copyright owners, royalty organisations and businesses utilising music work out who should pay what, to whom and why. 

In Vietnam a backlash put on hold attempts by the Vietnam Center for Protection of Music Copyright (VCPMC) to collect its royalties. VCPMC is a non-profit collective copyright management association. It represents 4,000 songwriters and copyright holders of Vietnamese music, and through its international associations another 4 million overseas authors and composers. 

The issue began in May when the VCPMC began demanding royalties from smaller hotels in central Vietnam. Hotels claimed they were unaware of these fees. Many refused claiming there was no music in many of them. One important issue was music being played on TVs in hotel rooms. However VCPMC had been charging 4 and 5-star hotels in major cities music licensing fees for many years. They also ran events to inform hotel owners of copyright rules. 

So due to the backlash in May, the Copyright Office of Vietnam instructed the VCPMC to temporarily halt collections. It began to mediate and devise a clearer plan for music royalty collection. The Ministry of Culture this week announced the resumption of collections. So the VCPMC will be charging all hotels VND25,000 ($1.1) per year for each room equipped with a TV. 80% of royalties  go to copyright holders and the remainder funds the VCPMC. 
Now for the hard part. The VCPMC expects hotels to collect lists of songs played and submit them so that payment can be calculated. How they will do this and which songs it applies to they have not explained. Perhaps a flat fee may have been easier.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ecommerce in Indonesia

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Indonesia is building a roadmap to develop its ecommerce sector. Currently several billion in value, ecommerce still only comprises 1% of the national economy, despite growing at 17% per year. A new Presidential Regulation No. 74 of 2017 on the 2017-2019 E-Commerce Roadmap sets out 8 programs to drive ecommerce growth. These include:

  1. Investment and funding rules to encourage foreign and domestic growth
  2. Tax rules simplification – especially as regards offshore platforms accessible locally and the establishment of tax domicile
  3. Consumer protection and digital payment systems
  4. Education and HR, including start up incentives and incubation and small enterprise support
  5. Infrastructure upgrades – to improve Internet speeds, networks and security
  6. E-logistics and shipping systems
  7. Cyber security both to protect e-transactions and to act against cybercrime
  8. Forming an ecommerce supervision team in the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs
A number of interrelated areas are not covered, as they have separate pre-existing regulations –

  • Safe harbour, liability and online IP violation
  • Data privacy and protection
  • National E-payment system
  • Provision of Over the Top Services, that is overseas providers offering e-services in Indonesia from offshore
The new rules are ambitious in seeking to drive ecommerce growth in the sector. Indonesia will runs ecommerce alongside traditional retail for many years. Modern retail is now flat. The hope is that in such a diverse scattered archipelago, ecommerce can spread faster and farther and modernise many remoter parts of the country. For traders, the possibility of accessing two hundred million consumers is mouth-watering.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Draft Myanmar trademarks law

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The draft trademark law (“Draft Law”) was published in Myanmar newspapers earlier this month for public comments. Overall, the Draft Law complies with the TRIPS Agreement, which is good news.

Highlights of the Draft Law are:

•The new rule is that ownership of a mark would go to the first-to-file and no longer to the first-to-use;
•The Myanmar Intellectual Property Office ("MIPO") will be established under the Ministry of Education;
•Registrable marks would include trade mark, service mark, collective and certification marks;
•The Draft Law would also protect geographical indications;
•MIPO would conduct formality and substantive examination of marks;
•Opposition and cancellation actions would be available;
•Well-known marks would be protected against misuses ;
•Priority and exhibition rights would be available;
•There is no procedure for automatically re-registering marks which are recorded under the current system. Therefore, all marks currently recorded would need to be re-filed and examined once the new law enters into force in order to gain protection in Myanmar;
•There is no provision addressing any potential conflicts between marks which are recorded under the current system and/or used in Myanmar and marks which would be registered once the new law is enacted, which is likely to cause legal uncertainty;
•Remedies for enforcement would be administrative (customs) criminal and civil. 

The Draft Law is now being reviewed by the Draft Law Committee of the Parliament. The Trade Mark Law could be enacted before the end of this year.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Even fake water in Jakarta!

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Jakarta residents typically buy water in gallon bottles for home dispensers, since piped water quality is too low to drink. The South Jakarta Police have arrested several men men for producing and distributing fake purified water gallons bottles. The bottles copy Aqua, Indonesia’s largest water company, part owned by Danone.

The infringers put groundwater into bottles after filtering out the obvious dirt, then heated old caps so they would shrink on when recapped.  One of the detainees was familiar with the industry as an ex water company employee. 

The initial charges were violating the 1999 Consumer Protection law.  the police typically use this as it is easier than the trademark law which requires more formal documents.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Protection of Traditional Knowledge and Genetic Resources

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Article 26 of 2016 Patent Law addresses protection rules about over and Benefit Sharing and disclosure requirements for the origin or sources of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge. This is to implement the Convention on Biological Diversity and Nagoya Protocol.

Chapter V of the 2014 Copyright law protects Traditional Cultural Expressions – that is works of unknown authorship, which attract copyright under the law. WIPO has long been helping developing countries protect their Traditional Knowledge, something that Indonesia as a large country of many peoples has worried about at an IP level.

Now there are going to be 2 new Ministerial regulations. The first covers something a called Local Wisdom, and the second Communal IP data. The Local Wisdom Regulation defines Traditional Knowledge as part of the Local Wisdom of indigenous people and local communities which might be used in an IP context. A structure is created to require consent to use traditional knowledge and a benefit sharing system with local custodians.  These are reasonably complex rules. It will be hard to many remote local people to comply with them, but nevertheless IP holders conducting research and utilizing technologies from Indonesian resources, or producing copyrights or other IP from local traditional cultural expressions will need to comply with these rules.

The second regulation allows the Ministry of Law to collect Communal Intellectual Property Data to manage and preserve traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, genetic resources, and potential geographical indications in the form of a database. On 27 July 2017, the Directorate General of Intellectual Property launched the Communal Intellectual Property Data Centre at present, only a handful of CIPs are already filed on the Database including a coffee, dance and music, textiles, and a fish

There will be a lot of complexity and possibly controversy around this. It is however impressive that Indonesia is making a start on this knotty area. Local disputes will arise with local communities over ownership, rights and definitions. After all who trusts a government to look after their property! In addition there are a host of other intersecting rules, for example, conservation laws, regional regulations, customary law, research permit rules, a proposed new Indigenous People's Rights law and foreign investment restrictions. Begin the process of studying this early if you are looking to use or rely on genetic materials or Traditional Knowledge from Indonesia.