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ICSTI: news items

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: ICSTI: news items
  • From: Pete Strickland <ps@iucr.org>
  • Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2004 15:27:24 +0000
  • Organization: IUCr
Subject: Intellectual property directive taken off EU Parliament's 

In short: In order to buy the Irish Presidency more time to secure a 
majority within a divided Council, the European Parliament has 
decided to withdraw the intellectual property directive from its 9 
February plenary agenda.

The controversial intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement 
directive has been withdrawn from the Parliament's 9 February plenary 
agenda because of fears that the Council might reject it, EU sources 
told EurActiv.

The proposed directive, which was initially designed to prevent piracy 
and counterfeiting in the EU, had attracted much criticism from 
consumer organisations, telecoms operators and Internet service 
providers. They claimed the directive would force them into endless 
legal proceedings with rights-holders, generally coming from the 
music and film industry, who are eager to limit downloads from the 

With European competitiveness on top of its agenda, the Irish 
Presidency is anxious to strike a deal on the IPR directive before 
its term ends on 1 July 2004. But the Council is reportedly divided 
over some key aspects of the directive such as its scope and the 
criminal sanctions that are to be imposed to infringers of IP rights.

In order to make sure a majority of Member States will support the 
directive within the Council of Ministers, the presidency has pressed 
for the Parliament to postpone its adoption and will seek a mandate 
from the Council (COREPER) to start negotiating with Parliament. It 
hopes an agreement can be found quickly so to that the 
competitiveness Council can vote on it on 11 March, two weeks ahead 
of the Spring summit.

Links: Time-saving overview: LinksDossier: IPR - Intellectual Property 
Rights (fully updated with the current proposal, background, main 
issues and positions from industry, NGO's and think tanks) 

Subject: Is google invunerable??

According to Reston, VA-based research firm comScore, Google has a 
large lead over its rivals in U.S. audience share, accounting for 77 
percent of all searches in August 2003 (including searches conducted 
at AOL and Yahoo!, which used the Google search engine). But in the 
search industry, innovation is a wild card. In 1999, you could have 
said that AltaVista had pretty much finished off the search market, 
notes Whit Andrews, a research director at technology advisory firm 
Gartner. In 1997, it was Inktomi. In 1995, it was Yahoo!. You never 
know in the search business when there's somebody down the street who 
is going to make you look like yesterday's news.

Google is vulnerable partly because it has few of the infrastructural 
advantages, like AT&T's once exclusive ownership of most of the 
telephone network or Microsoft's control of PC operating systems, 
that typically help to perpetuate dominance. (Indeed, press reports 
in January indicated that Yahoo! might soon drop its relationship 
with Google and turn to its own search technology.) And the company's 
claim to fame, the ability of its search algorithms to find the most 
relevant results, based on their popularity may be growing stale. 
When Google first launched, they had some new tricks that nobody else 
had thought about before, says Doug Cutting, an independent software 
consultant who wrote some of the core technology behind search engine 
Excite and has designed search tools for Apple Macintosh computers. 
But plenty of other search engines now offer intriguing alternatives 
to Google's techniques, Cutting believes.

Subject:OUP (USA) Layoffs

Oxford University Press USA has laid off 35 employees as part of a 
reorganization. According to Publishers Weekly, the target was 
largely the print reference department, which the publisher is said 
to have "consolidated in favor of its expansive online efforts." 
Publisher Laura Brown stated that OUP is "making significant 
investments in our higher education and professional publishing and 
our on-line activities, areas where we see exciting growth 

As part of the reorganization, Casper Grathwohl was named publisher, 
reference division,while Karen Day assumes the title of associate 
publisher, reference. Ms.Day previously held the publisher's 

Subject: Delphion adds European corporate links

Through an extension of its partnership with CHI Research, Inc., 
Delphion has added European corporate hierarchy data to its existing 
US data, creating the only resource where this important information 
can be leveraged across patent collections.

Without corporate hierarchy data, assignee searching and analysis can 
be problematic because separate patent applications often use 
different forms of the company name, requiring users to identify all 
variations in order to get complete information. In addition, patent 
documents identify the assignee that owned the patent when it was 
granted, but companies merge, get acquired, spin off and change 
names. Patents can also be sold or transferred from one company to 
another. Delphion leverages corporate hierarchy data to standardize 
corporate names and incorporate merger and acquisition activity, 
making it possible for users to find all patents from a corporate 
entity, even when names are misspelled.

As part of Thomson, Delphion is an Internet-based service for 
researching and analyzing patents and related intellectual property 
information on a worldwide basis.
Subject: Databases and open access, a complaint....

>From Peter Subers blog:

Nat Goodman, Among Databases, Open Access Is Growing Rare, Genome 
Technology Jan 28 2004. (free registration required)

Excerpt: "[R]estricted access makes it harder for other databases to 
incorporate your data and produce an even better result. For example, 
my group develops public databases focused on specific diseases. We 
collect data from multiple, mostly public sources, and present the 
information in ways that are more useful for scientists working on 
our diseases. To preserve open access to our databases, we cannot 
incorporate data from...restricted sources, even if they allow 
downloads. Too bad. It means we have to spend time and money 
duplicating work already done. Delay, delay, delay."
Subject: US Congress Committee votes for new IPR Bill

>From News.com via Peter Suber's blog.

"By a 16-7 vote, the House Judiciary committee approved an 
intellectual property bill that had been opposed by Amazon.com, AT&T, 
Comcast, Google, Yahoo and some Internet service provider 
associations. The proposal, backed by big database companies such as 
Reed Elsevier and Thomson, would extend to databases the same kind of 
protection that copyrighted works such as music, literature and 
movies currently enjoy....The bill...is controversial because, 
critics say, it would sidestep a U.S. Supreme Court decision that 
said facts could not be copyrighted. Wednesday's vote follows a 10-3 
vote last October in a subcommittee."
Subject: Thomson's annual profit soars 47%

Electronic publisher Thomson Corp. yesterday reported a 47-per-cent 
rise in 2003 profit helped by one-time gains, including a benefit 
arising from a favourable tax settlement.

Thomson posted profit attributable to common shares of $879-million 
(U.S.) or $1.34 a share for the year ended Dec. 31 compared with a 
year-earlier profit of $586-million or 91 cents. Revenue rose 2 per 
cent to $7.6-billion.

The "solid financial results" were achieved despite challenging market 
conditions, Richard Harrington, president and chief executive officer 
of Thomson told a conference call. "Free cash flow for 2003 was again 
very strong at $983-million, up slightly from a year ago."

Mr. Harrington said he expects revenue growth this year will improve 
from a 2- per-cent increase in 2003, but will fall short of its 
long-term target of 7 to 9 per cent.

"We are looking for continued improvement in the general economic 
environment, particularly the U.S. financial services industry," Mr. 
Harrington said.

Over the past five years, the Toronto-based electronic information 
provider that services the financial, legal, health care and 
education sectors posted a 7.5-per-cent compounded growth rate 
despite tough market conditions in 2002 and 2003.

"We would expect over the next business cycle, as the economy begins 
to improve, that we would be able to achieve that same 7- to 
9-per-cent growth rate," Mr. Harrington said later in an interview.

Thomson, which supplies products ranging from Westlaw legal databases 
to textbooks, sees growth from its financial division in 2004 after 
two challenging years, and from "tactical acquisitions." In 2003, 
Thomson made 27 acquisitions for a cost of $210-million.

Fourth-quarter profit rose to $396-million or 60 cents a share from 
$281- million or 43 cents the previous year. Revenue rose 3 per cent 
to $2.18-billion.

Best wishes

Peter Strickland
Managing Editor
IUCr Journals

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