IP in the Cloud: the China Perspective
Oct24

IP in the Cloud: the China Perspective

China is in the middle of a rapid shift towards cloud technologies. Execution of the 13th Five Year Plan will deliver substantial investment into cloud computing and the sector is undergoing unprecedented growth. Meanwhile, organisations operating in this digital economy face an increasingly complex intellectual property (IP) environment, as China becomes a global IP centre and scales up IP protection, enforcement and penalties for infringement. Indeed, the number of cloud-related IP lawsuits in China grew 158% between 2011 and 2016. Against this backdrop, organisations face an important question: how can they take advantage of the enormous opportunities presented by the cloud in a way that manages this complex IP landscape? In this post, Matt Pollins and Nick Beckett from CMS look at the practical steps organisations can take to protect themselves and succeed in the cloud. China’s “Internet Plus” economy and the role of cloud computing China is undergoing a rapid digital transformation. The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is well underway, as the Government’s “Internet Plus” initiative sees the integration of digital technologies into organisations in every industry across the nation. The 13th Five Year Plan, which prioritises digital technologies and innovations, is the driving force of this digital transformation. As part of the Plan, China’s broadband coverage will reach 70% of households by 2020. Mobile internet will reach around 85% of the population, adding a staggering 400 million additional internet users. Against these seismic shifts in technology development and adoption, the opportunity for organisations to leverage digital technologies to drive growth and improve services is clear – whether it is the shift towards cashless payments, the growth of tele-health or the explosion in e-commerce sales. And, not content with maximising the opportunities arising from growth in the domestic market, Chinese companies are going global, launching international enterprises, from e-commerce to digital media. At the core of China’s digital transformation is cloud computing. The sector has grown an average of 40% year-on-year since 2011 and there is no sign of the pace of cloud adoption slowing. China’s digital economy is being built on cloud services, often provided by third party cloud service providers. The cloud offers the opportunity to expand into new businesses and markets faster than ever before. However, this new opportunity comes with new challenges and, like every transaction with a supplier, customers need to assess any associated legal considerations. Like our previous posts on the position in Europe and South-East Asia, this post focuses on an often-overlooked legal consideration in moving to the cloud: IP. “Infringers will pay a heavy price”: China ramps up IP protection and enforcement China is fast becoming a global centre of innovation....

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IP in the Cloud: the South-East Asia Perspective
May05

IP in the Cloud: the South-East Asia Perspective

The fourth industrial revolution is transforming business in South-Asia faster and more dramatically than in almost any other region. Across South-East Asia, from emerging powerhouse economies such as Indonesia and Vietnam, to Singapore, already an established global economy, there is one issue that our clients consistently tell us is their boardroom priority: digital transformation. With the explosion in smartphone adoption, rapidly-improving broadband infrastructure and a generally young, tech-savvy population, the opportunity for organisations and governments to leverage new technologies to improve services and drive growth is clear – whether it is using digital wallet technologies to transform payments in Myanmar, or leveraging tele-health platforms to bring healthcare services to patients in remote locations in Indonesia and the Philippines. Many of these technologies are being built on cloud services, often provided by third party service providers. The cloud offers the ability to expand to new markets or new businesses faster than ever before. However, these new opportunities can come with new challenges and, like every transaction with a supplier, customers need to assess any associated risks . We have covered the region’s increasingly-supportive regulatory environment for cloud adoption in previous posts. This post focuses, instead, on an often-overlooked legal consideration in moving to the cloud – intellectual property (IP). What are the IP considerations associated with a move to the cloud for organisations in South-East Asia, and how can they be addressed? The IP landscape for companies in South-East Asia Let’s start by looking at the IP landscape in the region. There is a tendency to generalise about IP in South-East Asia. This is a mistake. While every country in South-East Asia has an IP regime designed to protect rights holders through patents, copyright, trade marks, and so on, it is still incorrect to assume that there is any real consistency across jurisdictions. Despite efforts to harmonise at an international level, the landscape still differs significantly from one country to the next – both in terms of the underlying legal framework and, even more so, in terms of the approach to enforcement. There is little value in comparing Vietnam, which has substantial room for improvement in terms of its patent system and approach to enforcement against infringers, with Singapore, which has a more-established system and is investing in becoming an IP hub for the region. What this all means for companies who do business across South-East Asia is that the picture is one of fragmentation, uncertainty and risk. Although the commercial team may regard South-East Asia as a single trading area, the legal and compliance team needs to navigate the myriad different legal systems and advise their board accordingly. The...

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Tech-friendly regulation can make Singapore a global digital leader
Feb14

Tech-friendly regulation can make Singapore a global digital leader

A more tech-friendly approach to regulation wasn’t the most headline-grabbing recommendation of the Committee on the Future Economy’s (CFE’s) report, published last week – but it might just be the most important. A year in development, the CFE’s report, “Pioneers of the Next Generation”, is a roadmap for realising Singapore’s economic vision over the next decade. In it, the authors lay out a series of ideas and recommendations for the future direction of Singapore’s economy, with a focus on how it can remain open and connected and how innovation can be fostered to position Singapore as a global digital leader. The challenge, of course will be in the implementation – and key to that will be putting in place a regulatory landscape that drives innovation. That is why the report’s recommendations about regulation are particularly important. The report emphasises the need to “create a regulatory environment to support innovation and risk-taking” and states that Singapore “must take risks and be willing to make fundamental changes to support the emergence of potentially-disruptive business activities”. Regulators around the world are not always known for supporting risk-taking. Indeed, when our Asia Public Policy team analyses regulations for clients, we often see regulatory approaches whose objective is to limit risk. To encourage limited risk-taking and innovation would represent a step-change in policy-making – but it would be the right decision because the definition of “risk” has changed. Risk used to be doing something new or adopting a new technology. Now, risk is standing still and being overtaken. Five or ten years ago, if you were a large bank and you were thinking of adopting a brand new technology solution, that might have been regarded as a “risk”. Today, if you’re a large bank and you’re not using technology to deliver better services, if you are standing still, the chances are you will be overtaken. So how will Singapore make this happen? The process is already underway – take the recent Outsourcing Guidelines published by the Monetary Authority of Singapore. Recognising that uncertainty about the regulatory environment for technology adoption in some parts of the industry was hindering innovation, MAS gave a clear green light for technologies such as cloud computing. It did this in a way that managed risk, by putting the onus on financial institutions to ensure that their use of technology does not hinder MAS’s regulatory oversight or expose its customers to security or privacy risks. This is a blueprint that other regulators may follow, balancing the risk of companies standing still against the risks associated with new technologies. There was also mention in the CFE report of “regulatory sandboxes”, a...

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Singapore’s MAS Issues a Green Light for Public Cloud
Aug01

Singapore’s MAS Issues a Green Light for Public Cloud

On 27 July 2016, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) issued new Guidelines on Outsourcing. This is a major development for financial services institutions (FSIs) in Singapore and the companies that provide services to them. This is also a major milestone in the development of cloud services in Singapore because, for the first time, the Guidelines include a specific section on cloud. In this post, we look at what the Guidelines mean for cloud in Singapore. For an overview of the ten key takeaways of the Guidelines, see this post. Context: Towards a Smart Financial Centre Singapore is in the middle of a digital transformation powered by cloud services. MAS recognises this. In the past year, MAS has shown a serious commitment to achieve its goal of establishing Singapore as a Smart Financial Centre. First, it established a new FinTech & Innovation Group (FTIG) in August 2015. Second, it appointed a new Chief FinTech Officer to head the FTIG. Finally, it moved towards establishing a “regulatory sandbox” to enable FSIs to experiment with fintech solutions in a secure environment. The publication of MAS’s cloud computing policy, as part of the Guidelines, is another major step forward. Recent research by Forrester emphasises that despite growing acceptance of the benefits of cloud in the FSI community, and a growing number of FSIs taking advantage of cloud services, the pace of cloud adoption in Singapore has been slowed by concerns and misconceptions about the regulatory environment. This new policy on cloud will change that by bringing much-needed clarity to the regulatory environment. A Green Light for Public Cloud So what do the Guidelines say about cloud services and what does this mean for FSIs and cloud services providers? 1. The Guidelines finally dispel the “urban myths” about cloud Before the new Guidelines, and despite the growing use of cloud by FSIs in Singapore, there were misconceptions in some quarters about barriers or even absolute prohibitions on the use of cloud. As Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS recently pointed out, it had become an “urban myth” that “MAS does not like the cloud“. The Guidelines formally dispel that urban myth. The Guidelines not only permit the use of cloud, they emphasise its benefits. For example, the Guidelines state that “CS can potentially offer a number of advantages, which include economies of scale, cost-savings, access to quality system administration [as well as] operations that adhere to uniform security standards and best practices“. They also state that “MAS…recognises that institutions may leverage on such a service to enhance their operations and service efficiency while reaping the benefits of CS’ scalable, standardised and secured infrastructure”. For...

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Vietnam tightens grip on pay TV
Feb29

Vietnam tightens grip on pay TV

Vietnam has passed a broad new pay TV decree which will have a significant impact on foreign channels. The decree, which was issued on 18 January 2016, governs the management of information contents, quality, rates, provision and use of radio and television services in Vietnam, as well as the reception of foreign television channels directly from satellites in Vietnam. The implications of this broad new decree will take some time to digest (particularly for the foreign channels affected). In this post, Eric Lai briefly summarises the key provisions of the decree. Greater content control Broadcasters of foreign programs on pay radio and TV services in Vietnam must ensure that their contents are “healthy and appropriate to Vietnamese culture” and do not infringe the country’s press rules. These requirements are not further expanded upon in the decree but the terminology (“healthy and appropriate”) leaves substantial room for interpretation and, one expects, enhanced content control. Foreign content capped at 30% The decree imposes a total cap on local content, capping foreign channels at 30% of the total number of channels. Localisation Foreign content must to be edited and translated by a licensed agency, except for live reports of sport matches, opening and closing ceremonies of regional and global sport tournaments. Companies also need to register with the authorities through authorized agents, and fulfil certain financial obligations. Local advertising The contents must not contain pre-inserted advertisements from abroad. Advertisements, if any, must be produced in Vietnam, in accordance with local regulations, and subject to edits by authorized local agencies. Local production For joint productions, authorized domestic content producers are allowed to select partners incorporated under Vietnam’s laws to collaborate to produce in part or in whole programs or program channels. With thanks to Eric...

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