With technology reaching new peaks and dimensions, there has been a lot of investment in research and development also. Along with this, safeguarding of interests in terms of getting value for the research has also become a priority area. This gives credence to the growth of patenting and Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) management. As is common with any fast growing area, frameworks come into place, slowly setting the pace towards rules and regulations, emerging into industry standards by standard setting organizations and along with this even misuse of the facility, loopholes and new trends therein.
The European Commission has taken steps towards investigation into various sectors of the economy, where a sector does not seem to be working as well as it should and also, sectors where growth is at very high pace and anticompetitive approaches by certain large groups is visible. The European Commission enquiry covers all of 27 EU member states, who also go for international comparison in particular with the United States in certain instances.
In the IT sector, as Dave Heiner, vice president of Microsoft puts it, in reference to the EU anti-trust inquiry, “Google’s public response to this growing regulatory concern has been to point elsewhere. Google is telling reporters that anti-trust concerns are not real.” And “As Google’s power has grown in recent years, we’ve increasingly heard complaints from a range of firms – about a wide variety of Google business practices.” This raises a question of Google’s probable anti-competitive and monopolistic trends, as also Microsoft. The EU Commission has been inquiring into various aspects of Google’s operations, based upon various complaints from competitors in regard of search services, ranking of sites, advertisement and ranking relationships etc.
Target Corporation, the American retailing giant is also being highlighted in this light. Target’s entry into Canada and their announcement of large scale investments in Canada, as also, their trademark infringement being known for many years is a point to understand as to whether some anti-competitive issues may exist.
Then comes the issue of Zynga, who claim rights to “ville family of social networking games including Yo Ville, Farm Ville, Pet Ville, Frontier Ville, Fish Ville”. Zynga, whose games are very popular on the social media site, Facebook is termed to be one of the world’s largest social game developers and has taken serious objection to the name Blingville.com domain name which has been used since 2004. Blingville LLC is also a computer game developer whose trademark application is still pending with the authorities. Zynga’s advocates have been sending multiple cease-and-noticeseven though the company Zynga Game Network Inc. does not own and has not registered or applied any trademark registrations for Blingville or similar words.
The European Union Commission has large powers to impose big fines and is seriously investigating / inquiring with the organizations in question and their competitors on these issues of unfair business practices, corporate social responsibility, anti-competitive practices and methods like patent clustering that are prevalent in the market. The maximum pressure seems to be on pharma companies like Bayer, patent settlements and anti-trust issues in the wake of generic medicines not being available to the common man which are much, much cheaper than the branded medicines.
Regulators worldwide are looking at this aspect, in perspective which seems to be a good sign.