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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Guest Column: Regulating video in the internet age: Pressing challenges, slow movement
Jan09

Guest Column: Regulating video in the internet age: Pressing challenges, slow movement

Video markets in Asia, as in other parts of the world, are being swept by a wave of commercial and technological adjustment to the rise of internet-delivered video, frequently referred to as “OTT” television.  Unfortunately, in most countries adjustment of regulatory policies by governments is way behind. Asia’s cities, in particular, are rapidly being wired for broadband connectivity.  In developing countries like Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and India a broad digital divide has opened, with major urban areas enjoying improving connectivity and the countryside still reliant on more traditional modes of video delivery to consumers. That divide is a problem needing attention, but in the meantime urban populations, at least, are enjoying a “sweet spot” of improving broadband and adequate disposable income to pay for services consumers want.  As a result, they have become the object of a “race to serve” on the part of video providers on every scale: • Traditional pay-TV operators are upgrading their VOD offerings and broadening device access to include smartphones and tablets. • At the same time, new entrants are seeking to construct the right content offerings at the right price to win over consumers.  Major global providers (Netflix and Amazon Prime) entered Asia during 2016, and immediately were confronted with the need to adapt a global approach to Asian realities (including lower price points). • A raft of regional Asian OTT platforms have expanded their offerings (including Viu TV, Hooq, IFlix, and Catchplay), alongside a plethora of locally-oriented offerings (like Hotstar, Dittotv and Voot in India, plus Toggle, Monomaxx, Doonee, USeeTV, MyK+, etc., in Southeast Asia.) These market developments have significantly ratcheted up the pressure on governments, who are seeing more and more consumers migrate to lightly-regulated (or totally unregulated) online content supply, and away from the heavily-regulated traditional TV sectors.   Governments are in a quandary – most do not wish to impede their citizens’ access to global information sources, but at the same time they see evident challenges to long-established policies for content acceptability, broadcaster licensing, taxation, advertising etc.   At the extreme, “pirate” OTT services happily locate offshore, respect no rules and meet no obligations of any kind (not limited to copyright authorization), all the while reaping millions in subscription and/or advertising revenues.  Local content industries are crying foul. This very unbalanced competitive landscape causes deep damage to network operators, content creators at home and abroad, and investors in local economies.  In general, it isn’t possible to subject online content supply to outdated “legacy” broadcasting rules, so alternative solutions have to be considered, including self-regulatory approaches (which can gain acceptance from legitimate OTT suppliers, if not the pirate scofflaws)...

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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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The Premier League, Sponsored by…Asia?
Feb15

The Premier League, Sponsored by…Asia?

Asia’s interest in the Premier League is at an all-time high. A population of young, increasingly affluent and increasingly connected Asian fans are following the Premier League in their hundreds of millions. At last count, the Premier League had 820 million fans in Asia, spanning the length and breadth of the continent. Put simply, the Premier League has more supporters in Asia than anywhere else. Asian interest in the Premier League is not new. What is new, however, is the fact that fans in Asia have more money to spend, and more smartphones, tablets and PCs to watch football on, than ever before. The commercial opportunities created by this fanbase have not been lost on Premier League clubs or indeed on Asian brands and broadcasters. Cash-rich brands from Asia are pouring millions of sponsorship dollars into Premier League clubs. Premier League clubs are responding to the opportunity by bolstering their commercial teams to entice brands with increasingly innovative partnership opportunities. Asian broadcasters are in total spending more on broadcast rights than those in any other continent. This report looks at what is driving these developments, highlights some of the deals that have already been done and considers the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead on both sides of the negotiating table. Shirt sponsorships Let’s start with the shirt sponsors. It is fair to say that Asian brands are rapidly buying up the “shirt real estate” of Premier League clubs. Almost a third of Premier League clubs now have an Asian brand as their main shirt sponsor. The 2013-2014 season sees players from six of the 20 Premier League clubs stepping onto the pitch with an Asian brand emblazoned on their chest. The proportion is even higher (eight out of 23) if one includes Wigan and QPR, who were relegated at the end of the 2012-2013 but who continue to have an Asian brand shirt sponsor. Contrast this with the Premier League ten years ago, in the 2003-2004 season, when just one Asian brand was involved as a shirt sponsor, in the form of Chinese telecoms company, Kejian, which sponsored Everton. Let’s look at the deals that have now been done: Club Shirt Sponsor Country Industry Aston Villa Dafabet Cagayan, Philippines Betting and gaming Cardiff City Malaysia Malaysia Tourism Chelsea Samsung Korea Electronics Everton Chang Beer Thailand Alcoholic beverages Swansea City GWFX Hong Kong Financial services Tottenham Hotspur AIA (cup, full shirt sponsor from next season) Hong Kong Insurance Queens Park Rangers* Air Asia Malaysia Airline Wigan Athletic* 12BET Cagayan, Philippines Betting and gaming *Relegated 2012-2013 A growing menu of partnership opportunities on offer The days when shirt, perimeter fence...

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Vietnam steps up its control of the internet
Nov29

Vietnam steps up its control of the internet

The Vietnamese Government is taking further steps to control internet activity in the country. On the horizon and scheduled to come into effect on 14 January is “Decree 174”. According to the translations circulating online, the new Decree will have two key areas of focus: social media and online gaming. The aspect making most of the headlines is that users of social media who post comments that criticise the Government will be subject to fines (reportedly in the region of US$5,000). Other posts that would be subject to fines are those that undermine national unity, that distort historical facts or that “hurt the nation” of Vietnam. Many of these restrictions appear to be very broadly drafted. The other activity that the new law is interested in is gaming. Reportedly, there will be fines for teenagers who play games “after curfew”. Other fines (ranging from around US$2,500 to US$5,000) will apply to the use of “too much” virtual currency, setting up unlicensed gaming centres or providing or advertising games without having a licence in place. There are also restrictions relating to the content of the games themselves. All of these fines are surprisingly specific – for example, one wonders why playing games beyond curfew is subject to a fine of US$2,500 to US$5,000 whereas publishing games with certain restricted content (e.g. that promote drinking or smoking) is in the US$1,000 to US$1,500 bracket. It suggests that perhaps the Government is looking to bring enforcement of web violations more in line with something like parking violations. The challenge, of course, will be in the enforcement. Nonetheless, the threat of fines may, in many cases, be enough to disincentivise (or at least make people think twice) about engaging in some of these activities. And this will certainly not help Vietnam’s reputation as an “enemy of the internet” – it currently ranks 172nd out of 179 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Rankings....

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Welcome to Connected Asia
Nov19

Welcome to Connected Asia

Thanks for visiting Connected Asia. Connected Asia is a blog about tech,  media, gaming and sport in Asia. Right now it’s really a work in progress but there’s more to come soon. Bear with me. Connected Asia is about how the unparalleled and explosive growth in connectivity in Asia is driving all kinds of amazing new technologies and business models in the tech, media, gaming and sports sectors. It’s also about the legal and commercial challenges this growth is creating. Connected Asia is mostly written by Matt Pollins, who’s a lawyer based in Singapore (and originally based in London). Matt is part of the team at Olswang Asia. Olswang is one of the world’s leading tech, media and telecoms law firms with offices in London, Madrid, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Munich and Singapore and an international network of best friend firms. If you’re interested in any of the topics discussed here, please do get in touch. It wouldn’t be a legal blog without a disclaimer. Views expressed on Connected Asia are the author’s own and nothing on Connected Asia constitutes legal advice or creates a lawyer-client relationship. Photo of the laser show at Marina Bay Sands by erwinsoo, who takes some amazing photos of...

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