Thursday, July 12, 2018

Taking Liberty, A $3.5m copyright stamp of mistaken identity

Putting the Status of Liberty on a US stamp seems like a no brainer, send someone out to take an original picture of miss liberty, stamp it and run. Or, get full rights to a picture, modify it to your hearts content -- maybe make her happier to be holding up so well after most of a century in the New York weather! (Maybe add a Mono Lisa Smile!?)... But, often, copyrights may not be as simple as they appear.
Rick Kurnit has a great blog about a copyright for the Status of Liberty stamp on Lexology.
Here's the backstory. The US Post Office got a picture of a Status of Liberty, but not THE Status of Liberty. It is a picture of the replica (although Lady Liberty is smaller, mind you) in Las Vegas.
"Robert Davidson, the artist who created the model, upon seeing the stamp (after his wife came home from the post office and exclaimed 'they put our statue on a stamp') registered the copyright in his version of the statue and sued."
After 5 years and a 2 week trial... Davidson won $3.5m+. That's a lot of forever stamps. Talk about making it BIG in Vegas!
Kurnit takes the time to make this a learning moment by discussion the use of copyrighted materials, and even derivative works.
You would kind of think that anything publicly owned and publicly viewable link the Statue of Liberty would be, well, public domain, including the photos thereof. Not so. (Generally, I own my photos, and the derivative works of those photos.)

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Jury Awards Apple $539 Million in Samsung Patent Case - The New York Times

Jury Awards Apple $539 Million in Samsung Patent Case - The New York Times:

The do-over award to Apple from Samsung on the patents law suit (and damages) is down to $539M from the original $1B. Here's info on the original infringement ruling of $1B. VentureBeat has a good take on this as well.

The war chest of patents -- world wide -- is massive in order to play in the smart phone and tablet space!

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

PetroCoins, Oil Sands Extraction and Blockchain.

Oil sands are seriously back in play with patented technology. Combine that with blockchain tech, and you have an investment that you simply gotta get into, or not!...
Petrotech Energy Inc. is touting both patents and blockchain in a penny, over-the-counter, stock (PQEFF).
Well, maybe not investing, but here is a hyped-up "sponsored" Ad that looks slightly like an article over at
Two things that are interesting in the penny stock that's now up to $1.50 level. It has patented tech on oil sands extraction that is a closed loop system that sounds interesting. With the dry sands of Utah it apparently has the ability to extract 99% of the heavy oil and leaves only sand as the byproduct. That is pretty cool because oil sand extraction has historically been a very, very dirty and expansive business. They want to expand their patents to the countries where lots of (dry) oil sands deposits live and make a fortune. Unfortunately, two of the biggest candidates are Kazakhstan, Venezuela, Russia and China -- not exactly the worlds heaven of intellectual property (IP) protection countries.
In fact, the bitcoin IP (ICO) backed by oil reserves by Venezuela in an interesting ploy. We thought the initial coil offering should more aptly be called an IKO, for Initial Kleptocurrency Offering.
A cybercurrency like bitcoin is, however, an interesting way to do business in any world, especially a kleptocratic country. And blockchain is the underlying transaction technology. So the marriage of blockchain to this company has real merit (they call their technology PetroBLOQ). However, bitcoin and blockchain technology are publicly available -- open source -- technologies.
Petrotech says that they can produce oil at $22 per barrel. Maybe even as low as $18. That's impressive for oil sands. Transportation and the extra costs of processing heavy ("dirty" vs "sweet" West Texas type crude) change that dynamic some; but still impressive.
What's somewhat funny is this statement: "It extracts over 99 percent of all hydrocarbons in the sand, generates zero greenhouse gases and doesn’t require high temperatures or pressures."
Generates "zero greenhouse gases"? It has to be transported, refined, transported to the pump and then burned in a vehicle where it produces between 19 and 20 pounds of carbon dioxide per gallon, depending on the type of gas/diesel.
Yes, more green than the tar sands of Alberta, but certainly not as green as wind or solar. 
Look, as well, at the trillions of barrels of oil in sands around the world. Even if we could extract it all and burn it, does not mean we should burn it.
Check out a sister blog on the scenarios associated with the demise of oil (excluding any discussion about greenhouse gas issues).

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Venezuela's 'Petro' Token Launches in Pre-Sale - CoinDesk

Venezuela's 'Petro' Token Launches in Pre-Sale - CoinDesk:

Is it an ICO or an IKO. There has been a new trend that is catching fire, to do an initial public offering (IPO) in cyber/cryptocurrency coins, or ICO. Venezuela, with a failed currency in a failed state, is doing a very novel approach their new ICO offering is to be backed by a small portion of their vast oil reserves. And the coin will be called a Petro, which is equivalent to a barrel of Venezuelan (sour) crude in the ground. It is generally better that the collateralization of the Petro is oil in the ground because kleptocracy government can't steal it, privatize it or transfer it to friends and family. (See Wikipedia's article on the Petro, great because it is dynamically updated.)

Given the kleptomania of the country, it probably should be called a IKO, for klepto currency. There is some genius involved here. Government employees have not been paid for months. And there is only government employees, since the private sector has been taxed, squeezed, arrested and otherwise squeezed out. No one wants to lend money or invest in capital investments because the government has a way of lying, stealing, cheating and privatizing.

The Bolivar currency is a klepto nightmare. The preferred exchange rate is about 10 to the US$ so friends and family get a spectacular subsidy. But hyper inflation has about 25,000 Bolivar to the US$. Of course, it is hard to get US dollars, and bolivars are useless.

When it was announced that Russia was going to "help" Venezuela with this Petro IKO, it was an obvious in for Russia to meddle in Latin America. The Petro, will obviously supersede all other (worthless) Venezuela Debt and liabilities. It is very clever. Venezuela can move to a new currency for some things, and leave the worthless currency for other things (like paying off debt).

Other countries and other dictators will be watching this closely.

On the other hand, a collateralize ICO has lots of potential. Troubled, or failed states can offer an ICO to keep mining their diamonds, oil, gold and lithium. Hmmm...???

While you are thinking about Oil-collateralized-ICOs, check out our scenario discussion on the death of big oil at our sister site here at 

Notes. The Petro "white paper" discusses opaquely the intermix of the Vz Goverment, the oil-collateralize instrument, and more. (Check bitcoin news on Petro.) Here's a summary and link to the white paper at Medium. There are soooo many issues with this ICO. The gov makes out here, there and everywhere: about 17% of the allocation, a discount to entice usage, a ICO price of $60 per barrel. Venezuela has  (dirty) heavy crude, so it should be discounted something like $7 per barrel... Oh, and the oil is still in the ground!

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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Unexpected Consequence of US Tax Reform: International Patent Pinball

IP intensive US corporations have gained a tangible, potentially very profitable benefit from the tax reform signed into law in December 2017.  A new provision reduces taxes on “foreign derived intangible income,” i.e., Intellectual Property (IP) -- primarily patents.  However, in yet another “all that glitters…,” this new benefit doesn’t arrive without its requirements for a
new level of analysis and decision-making.

In  a comprehensive January 24, 2018 Wall Street Journal article by Sam Scheckner, Tax Change Aims to Lure Intellectual Property Back to the U.S. - WSJ, the tax rates was dropped to 13.125% until 2025 which corporations view as a major improvement over the prior rate of up to 35%. As the author states, this is a serious attempt to bring back assets from countries such as Ireland that had a much lower tax than the US for years.  Corporations, such as Google and Facebook, while not commenting for the article, have in place elaborate asset transfer schemes- see “Double Irish” across multiple countries to gain the optimum tax rate.  

The US action to reduce the asset rate has not gone unnoticed by these other countries.  Several are revising their tax rate in response to and to outflank the US change.  This has driven US corporations with overseas operations to reengage in asset number crunching -- aka patent pinball -- to
land on the country with the optimum package. The patent number crunching could involve licensing versus barrier patent protected product revenues versus sales versus tech transfer partnerships depending on the terms and conditions in a given country.  And as countries change their tax laws in
what amounts to revenue one-up-manship, patent pinball is certain to become an ongoing game.
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

12 Patents of Christmas Past

Entertaining to follow some of the patents of Christmas past. Here's something for you to be entertained by as you look into the new year of 2018.

12 Christmas related patents by AboveTheLaw. My favorite is the Santa kit, with big boot pattern and special instructions on how to leave out food and drink, but make sure to sample it well, to show proof positive that there really is a Santa, to those young, skeptical minds.

The USPTO had the 12 days of Christmas, which was pretty entertaining. I went back to review them, only to find that they were gone. Hmmm... Maybe the USPTO is not supposed to have fun.
But, look for the tweets #12DaysOfPatents ...

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dodgy YayYo IPO advertised on TV - Business Insider

YayYo IPO advertised on TV - Business Insider:

Dodgy is probably the best term for Yay Yo IPO, for the inner circle, and for the product-less crowdfunding approach using the JOBS act.

In the true spirit of a pyramid scheme, Yah Yo has the promise of a product, but there is little or no "there" there.

They are selling the business model that they will tie in all the ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft into an integrated interface that gives you the best pricing. They generally imply that the BIG 2 unicorns will happily interface with Yay Yo. However, the two world-wide rideshares have insisted that Yay Yo cease and desist from any implicates of partnership.

So, they say, they will work with the largest 3 to 100 ride share companies. In the US, Uber is down to about 74% with Lyft at about 24%... leaving about 2% for the other players. (See here how Uber's fortunes have fallen from 91%, including a #deleteUber campaign based on a Trump backlash.)

The talking head spokesperson/expert in the video is J Peterson from Sienfeld fame, a show about nothing, seems appropriate... An IPO about nothing.

Comparing to Uber or Lyft that actually produce something and have lots of intellectual property (like patents and such) at their disposal, seems a bit like a reach. People from near and far, think that the advertising of the investment, not the product, is mostly misleading and far from the truth. Taking excess advantage of the Wild-Wild west for small investors made available for low regulation (near no regulation) IPO thanks to the 2012 Jumpstart our Business Startups, or JOBS Act.

Want to hear an overview of the investor requirements for this "Regulation A+" investment, straight from Elaine's dodgy boss from Seinfeld look at the bottom right of this page: 
Consider carefully signing up though.

There should be no comfort in investing in a guy who was banned from public IPO for 5 years because of wildly risky and/or criminal acts in a publicly traded company in the past.

You read through the SEC filings to see if this is a IPO scam, a dodgy crowdfund, or simply an uber-risky pink-unicorn investment.

On the plus side, the Business Insider article that started this blog post, YayYo IPO advertised on TV - Business Insider:, is a wonderful overview of the whole JOBS act and really good uses of it to fund smaller businesses and give smaller investors an opportunity to play. Companies that seem to have real products and interesting market niches are Elio and Knightscope. "Regulation A+ IPOs include Elio Motors, which is working on an inexpensive three-wheeled car, and Knightscope, which designs robotic security systems."

Ironically, Uber (global) and Lyft (US only) are both private companies, not public, valued at approximately $68B  and $7.5B, respectively. Real revenues in 2016 of about $6.5B and $700m.

Uber has 298 US patents in force with 117 applications pending (via PatentBuddy), amassing a serious war chest organically and through acquisition. Not just anybody is gonna go jump into this market.

Lyft got their first patent issued in Sept 31 of 2016 for music preferences ("jukebox") and its second patent for "ride chaining" almost exactly a year later. The ride chaining patent is about a pickup and drop-off sequence, weaving through a rough terrain of of (Uber) patents.

I vote for dodge the dodgy, IPO or no.

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