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idsansupernyo.cf: Intellectual Property Damages: Guidelines and Analysis: Mark A. Glick, Lara A. Reymann, Richard Hoffman.
Table of contents
The Bureau would initially determine whether mountain bikes comprised a relevant market and assess whether ADVENTURE substantially or completely controlled the supply of product within that relevant market. The Bureau would then consider whether ADVENTURE's exclusive licence agreements, through which it precluded its competitors from obtaining an adequate supply of gear systems, constituted anti-competitive conduct.
While an exclusive licence arrangement may enhance competition, as was apparent in Example 3A, the use of an exclusive licence arrangement to effectively control the supply of a competitively essential input may be anti-competitive. In the absence of a compelling business justification, the Bureau would likely view the execution of long-term exclusive licences with each of the suppliers as a practice of anti-competitive acts that prevented ADVENTURE's competitors from obtaining access to this vital input gear systems.
The Bureau would then assess the impact of the exclusive licences on competition. Accordingly, the Bureau would likely seek to have the exclusive licences voluntarily terminated. Failing that, the Bureau would likely bring an application before the Tribunal seeking to terminate the exclusive terms of the licences.
Example 4: Exclusive Contracts SPICE, by virtue of its international patents, is the sole supplier of Megasalt, a unique food additive that has effectively replaced salt in certain prepared foods in most countries. Shortly before its Canadian patent expired, SPICE signed five-year contracts, which included exclusive supply rights, with its two principal Canadian buyers.
These contracts prevent the two buyers, which use Megasalt in specially prepared foods for hospitals and other health care institutions, from combining Megasalt with any other salt substitute on the same product line. Recently, NUsalt, a firm that has developed a potential alternative to Megasalt, filed a complaint with the Bureau alleging that SPICE's contracts are preventing NUsalt from manufacturing and marketing its product in Canada.
Analysis The NUsalt allegations suggest that SPICE, as a result of its contracts with its two largest buyers, is currently exploiting market power within the market for salt substitutes. The Bureau would likely investigate these allegations under the abuse of dominance provision section 79 of the Act. Footnote 52 The Bureau would initially determine whether salt substitutes comprise a relevant product market. This would entail determining whether salt substitutes are subject to effective competition from other substances for example, salt or whether salt substitutes have specific properties and functional characteristics that make other substances ineffective as substitutes.
The Bureau would then seek to determine whether SPICE substantially controlled the market in which its salt substitute competed by assessing SPICE's share of sales and barriers to entry to this market. The Bureau would consider all of the factors currently preventing alternative suppliers of salt substitutes from offering their products to customers in Canada, including the effect of SPICE's exclusive supply contracts on the ability of alternative suppliers to obtain sales from a critical mass of customers.
Assuming that the Bureau had determined that salt substitutes constitute a relevant market, it would likely conclude that SPICE substantially controlled that market. The Bureau would then consider whether the exclusive supply contracts, through which SPICE had precluded its principal customers from obtaining salt substitutes from alternative suppliers, constituted a practice of anti-competitive acts.
To make this assessment, the Bureau would examine the circumstances surrounding the negotiation and settlement of the exclusive contracts, and the extent to which they were exclusionary and intended to erect barriers to effective competition in the relevant market. As part of this analysis, the Bureau would consider whether there are compelling business justifications for SPICE's exclusive contracts. For example, SPICE may have signed these contracts to ensure that it would have sufficient sales to justify investing in enough productive capacity to realize economies of scale.
Also, the restriction preventing buyers from combining Megasalt with other salt substitutes could have a safety or quality rationale. On the other hand, if the Bureau found that the contracts in this case were intended to hold back a sufficient amount of market demand from potential entrants so that the remaining demand would provide an insufficient volume of sales to cover the cost of effective entry and future operating costs in Canada, then the Bureau would likely view the execution of the long-term exclusive licences as a practice of anti-competitive acts.
The Bureau would then assess the impact of the exclusive contracts on competition. In this regard, the adverse impact on the ability of other suppliers of salt substitutes to compete in Canada would be assessed to determine whether the contracts had substantially lessened or prevented competition. If the relevant market is defined as salt substitutes and SPICE's contracts are significantly preventing the entry of potential salt substitute producers, the Bureau may conclude that the exclusive contracts have substantially lessened or prevented competition.
By deterring firms from attempting to supply alternative salt substitutes in Canada, the exclusive contracts may cause other buyers in Canada not under contract with SPICE to pay higher prices than they would if SPICE faced effective competition. The magnitude of the decrease in competition would depend on the extent to which the contracts prevent entry and the expected degree of substitution that would exist between Megasalt and alternative salt substitutes, such as NUsalt, in the absence of the exclusive terms in the contracts. In general, if the contracts are determined to be the principal barrier to new entry and the new entrants' products are likely to be close substitutes for Megasalt, then the Bureau is likely to conclude that the contracts have substantially lessened or prevented competition and would likely seek to have SPICE's exclusive contracts voluntarily terminated.
Failing that, the Bureau would likely bring an application before the Tribunal seeking to terminate the exclusive terms in the contracts.
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However, if the Bureau determines that the contracts do not block effective competitive entry in Canada, then SPICE's exclusive contracts would not be considered to have substantially lessened or prevented competition. In this case the Bureau would close its inquiry without seeking remedial measures. Throughout its investigation the Bureau would work collaboratively with competition agencies in other jurisdictions as necessary to determine facts and their analytical approach relevant to the resolution of the matter.
Example 5: Output Royalties MEMEX currently holds a patent for the design of a memory component it manufactures for use in personal home computers. MEMEX does not manufacture personal computers, but instead sells its memory components and licenses the use of its technology to computer manufacturers.
Because of its patent, MEMEX currently faces no competition from other memory component producers wishing to use a similar design; however, MEMEX's patent is due to expire within a year and there is speculation that once it expires, other firms will begin manufacturing and selling memory components based on MEMEX's design. MEMEX has recently introduced a new licence agreement. Under the new agreement, MEMEX grants non-exclusive licences for the use of its technology and memory components to all personal computer manufacturers for a royalty on every computer shipped, regardless of whether any MEMEX memory components are installed.
MEMEX claims that the previous licensing policy had the unintentional effect of encouraging computer manufacturers to install too few MEMEX memory components, which detracted from computer performance. MEMEX claims that the new licensing practice provides manufacturers an incentive to install a more appropriate quantity of memory in computers.
Analysis The Bureau would likely investigate this case under the abuse of dominance provision section 79 of the Act. The Bureau would first determine whether memory components that employ MEMEX's technology comprise a relevant market and then assess whether MEMEX substantially or completely controls the supply of product within that market.
In view of the rapid rate of technological development and intense competition in the production of integrated circuit devices, the Bureau may conclude that the MEMEX technology competes with other memory technologies, that barriers to entry are sufficiently low that the scope of the relevant market extends beyond the MEMEX technology, or that MEMEX is unable to substantially control the supply of products within the specified relevant market.
If the Bureau determines that MEMEX faces effective competition from other suppliers of memory components then it would likely conclude that further investigation is not warranted. If, on the other hand, the Bureau concludes that the memory components supplied by the alternative suppliers are not considered effective substitutes and would not allow computer manufacturers to build computers that could compete with those using MEMEX's memory component, the Bureau might determine that further inquiry was warranted.
This determination would depend on the specific terms of the contracts and the likely effect they would have on actual or potential competitors in the relevant market. While MEMEX's licensing contracts do not expressly prohibit computer manufacturers from using memory components based on technology other than MEMEX's, they effectively impose a tax on computer manufacturers who use memory components from another supplier.
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Footnote 53 The imposition by a dominant supplier of long-term licensing contracts containing such provisions could preclude competition and maintain the supplier's market power. Accordingly, the Bureau would determine whether these contracts are in widespread use and their duration, and consider MEMEX's business justification for charging the per-computer royalty. It would also consider whether the per-computer royalty deters computer manufacturers from buying memory components from alternative suppliers.
If the Bureau determined that the licensing contracts were a practice of anti-competitive acts, the Bureau would then assess the likely impact of MEMEX's new licensing practice on competition and the price of memory components. If the Bureau determined that this practice creates, enhances or preserves market power, it would likely seek to have the new licensing practice voluntarily terminated.
Failing that, it would likely bring an application before the Tribunal seeking to terminate this practice. Example 6: A Patent Pooling Arrangement Five firms hold patents on technologies required by producers to develop widgets that conform to an international standard.
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To facilitate the licensing of their patents, the five firms hire an independent expert to review the patents of each firm and determine those that are essential for implementing the standard based on the underlying technical characteristics of the technologies. Upon completion of the review, the five firms create a patent pool and each of them licenses its essential patents on a non-exclusive basis to the pool.
The pool is organized as a separate corporate entity whose role is to grant a non-exclusive sub-licence to all the patents in the pool on a non-discriminatory basis to any party requesting one. The patent pool administrator collects royalties from licensees and re-distributes the revenue to pool members according to a formula that is partly based on the number of patents that each member has contributed to the pool.
Each of the five members of the pool retains its right to license its own essential patents outside the pool to third parties to make widgets that conform to the standard or widgets that may compete with those that conform to the standard. The patent pool agreement specifies that if a final court judgment declares a patent in the pool to be invalid, that patent will immediately be excluded from the pool. In addition, the agreement requires that an independent expert re-assesses the patents in the pool every four years to ensure that they are essential to developing widgets conforming to the international standard.
Licensees also have the ability to hire an independent expert to review any patent that they feel is not essential for developing widgets conforming to the standard. If, in either case, the expert concludes that one or more patents are not essential to developing widgets that conform to the standard, those patents are excluded from the pool.
The decisions of experts are final and are binding upon the pool members. The patent pool agreement also includes provisions allowing each pool member to audit the books of the pool administrator, and provisions allowing the pool administrator to audit the books of each licensee to verify royalty amounts.
In each case, provisions are put in place to guard against confidential business information being divulged to either pool members or licensees. Analysis The Bureau recognizes that patent pools can often serve a pro-competitive purpose by, among other things, integrating complementary technologies, reducing transaction costs and clearing blocking patents. Where patent pools may represent an agreement between competitors or potential competitors, the Bureau would likely review them under section Footnote 54 Despite their potential benefits, patent pools may also raise competition concerns.
If the patented technologies inside the pool are substitutes then the pool can be a mechanism for the pool members to restrict competition between themselves and increase royalty rates above levels that would have existed in a competitive market. Alternatively, if a patented technology inside the pool is a substitute for a technology outside the pool, the pool could be used as a bundling mechanism to effectively foreclose the outside technology.
Other potential competition concerns are that a pool's members may discriminate among licensees or use the pool to share confidential business information so as to reduce competition in a downstream market. To evaluate whether a patent pool would likely cause a competition issue, the Bureau would first seek to determine whether each patent placed inside the pool is essential for developing the product or service that is the basis behind the formation of the pool. In the case at hand, if each patent inside the pool is required to implement the widget standard, then the members of the pool cannot be viewed as horizontal competitors; a firm looking to buy technologies to develop widgets conforming to the standard would need permission to use each patented technology in the pool.
A pool comprised of only non-competing essential patents would not have the potential to harm competition among suppliers of technology either inside or outside the pool.
Mark Glick | Charles River Associates
In this example, the Bureau would look positively on the fact that pool members engaged an independent expert to determine which of their patents are essential to the widget standard. The Bureau would take additional assurance from the fact that an expert would continue to periodically review the patents to ensure they remain essential, as well as from the ability of licensees to challenge patents by requiring a separate independent review. The fact that any patents found to be invalid would also be removed from the pool would also contribute to the Bureau's assurance that the pool has taken adequate measures to only include essential patents.
Given that the pool administrator issues licences on a non-discriminatory basis to all interested parties, the Bureau would likely conclude that the technologies inside the pool were not being used to distort competition in a downstream widget market. The fact that pool members remain free to license their patents independently to other widget producers provides more evidence that competition in the downstream widget market would not be distorted by the pool. As a final step, the Bureau would review the pool agreement's provisions relating to the sharing of confidential information and ensure that such provisions provide adequate safeguards against the pool being used to facilitate coordination among pool members or licensees.
Absent any evidence that the patent pool is used to facilitate an agreement prohibited under subsection 45 1 , based on the analysis above, the Bureau would likely conclude that the patent pool does not raise any issues under the Act. The DISCO technology provides a level of sound quality and other features far superior to those offered by existing technologies.
DATCO has also developed a digital sound technology with similar high-fidelity qualities, but which is also portable and allows users to record. The costs of the two technologies are similar, but the technologies themselves are incompatible: music digitally encoded in DISCO format must be re-encoded for playback on DATCO's player.
The Bureau has concluded that the joint venture would not meet the definition of a merger as specified in section 91 of the Act. Analysis The Bureau would likely examine this case under the agreements and arrangements provision section The matter would not be considered under section 45 because the ROCKCO and POPCO joint venture would not be viewed as an agreement between competitors to fix prices, allocate markets or customers, or restrict output. Even if the refusal to release recordings in another format or grant a licence are considered output restrictions, the ancillary restraints defence would likely apply because they are ancillary and directly related to the broader joint venture agreement to develop the DISCO technology.
As well, these restraints appear reasonably necessary to attract a sufficient number of customers to the DISCO technology to make the joint venture viable. In this case, the Bureau would likely determine that the terms of the DISCO joint venture agreement and the refusal to license constituted joint conduct and hence would be considered conduct that was beyond the mere exercise of an IP right. The Bureau may elect to review the agreement under section If the Bureau were to determine that this would be the case, then ROCKCO and POPCO could have been expected to compete in the market for digital playback devices in the absence of their joint venture and the agreement would be reviewed under section If, on the other hand, ROCKCO and POPCO were determined not to be competitors, the Bureau would elect to review the joint venture agreement under the abuse of dominance provision, on the basis that the joint venture agreement established and provided for the joint abuse of a dominant position.
The review would be carried out in accordance with the framework and criteria for abuse of dominance outlined in the previous examples. Whichever provision of the Act would apply, the Bureau would need to establish the affected relevant market or markets, consider barriers to entry and evidence of market power or dominance, demonstrate a substantial lessening or prevention of competition and assess any business justifications or efficiencies. If the Bureau were to proceed under sections 79 or In addition, it would need to find that the DISCO joint venture had engaged in anti-competitive conduct that substantially lessens or prevents competition.
Foreclosure of access to these materials could prevent alternative sound recording technologies from acquiring the critical mass of desirable music content required for them to achieve viability.