Tuesday, April 10, 2007

IP this ’n that

This morning’s newspaper had a lot of IPR business news. While I realize by now most of it is 24 hours old, still the juxtaposition was very interesting:

  • The Qualcomm-Nokia patent license witching hour came Tuesday and went without any news. I analyze the fight on the Qualcomm blog.
  • [Rhapsody player]
  • Apple’s iPod brand, market position and business model have yet another challenger.
    • This time it’s a new $250 model of Sansa player (from the #2 MP3 player maker Sandisk holding a 9% share) that connects wirelessly to the Yahoo music service. The Yahoo service is interesting because it’s a monthly (unlimited) rental revenue model rather than the buy-to-own of the better established iTunes Store.
    • [Yahoo Player]
    • Also interesting (unmentioned in all the breathless coverage of the next “iPod killer”) is that Sandisk is offering a similar product partnering with Rhapsody, Yahoo’s most direct competitor for unlimited downloads.
    • Meanwhile, Apple Monday announced that is has sold 100 million iPods since November 2001: good for an MP3 player, but Nokia sells 3x that many cell phones every year (increasingly with embedded MP3 players).
  • Google’s China IPR problem. Google admitted it used the Pinyin front-end processor (FEP) character entry technology belonging to rival Sohu, and Sohu is ready to sue. Finally Google has an IPR problem not related to GooTube.
  • US complaining about Chinese “piracy,” now in a formal complaint to the WTO. Predictably, the US Trade Representative is wringing her hands while the Chinese threatened (implicitly) US access to Chinese markets if the US seeks to enforce its IPR rights.
Somehow I find the last one the most amusing. I wonder if it’s in the USTR job description to issue press releases about trade deficits being caused by “unfair trade,” specifically our Asian trading partners not following Anglo-American law. Other than Hong Kong before 1997 or (maybe) Singapore, did any of them ever promise to follow Anglo-American law?

I liked it better when USTR Charlene Barshefsky was kvetching about Japan, on the assumption that at least she recognized Grand Kabuki when she saw it.

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