Thursday, March 23, 2017

Big Mac Index

    A colleague recently visited and commented on how expensive the food was in Switzerland, especially at McDonalds.  Because of his comment, I mentioned the Big Mac Index. This index was created in 1986 and is based upon price of the Big Mac sandwich at McDonalds.
It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries.
      Here is McDonald's price for a Big Mac sandwich in Zug, Switzerland.

     Yes, you read that correctly, 6.50 CHF (including 8% VAT). While in Roseville, Minnesota, the price of a Big Mac sandwich is $4.47 ($4.15 + 7.625% sales tax). Once you factor in the current exchange rate of 1 CHF = $1.01 (according to Google, on March 26, 2017), a Big Mac sandwich in Zug, Switzerland costs the equivalent of $6.57. Thus, the Swiss Franc is about 47% overvalued.

    If you find the cost of a Big Mac sandwich a bit steep, then you will find the cost of the meal deals a bit more out of touch.

    Yes, a small meal deal is 11.70 CHF, and a medium meal deal is 13.00 CHF.  And for comparison, a meal deal in Minnesota costs $6.35.

- Henry Park

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daylight Saving Time will start in Europe on March 26

     On Sunday, March 26th, Europe will start daylight saving time, and the standard difference of hours between New York, NY (ET) and Central European Time (CET) will return to six (6) hours.

- Henry Park

Monday, March 20, 2017

USPTO - Java Web Start primer

     If you haven't tried using the new authentication method, Java Web Start, to access the USPTO PAIR and EFS systems, the following primer (Macintosh computer running Mac OS X (El Capitan) 10.11.6, updated Safari and Firefox web browsers) should help.

     Please note that using the Java Web Start method still requires having Java installed on your computer.

1.   On the USPTO website, you will have these options.

2.  Select the "Authenticate with Java Web Start (new method)".

3.  You will be greeted by this message

4.   In the background, a file will have downloaded to your "Downloads" folder.

5.  Depending on the security settings on your Macintosh, it may not run automatically.  If you run the file and get the following error message:

Then, the following steps should allow it to run.


6A.  Go to your "System Preferences" --> "Security & Privacy" Pane.

7A.  Give permission for the application to run by clicking "Open Anyway".

8A.  You will get the following message, click "Open".

9A.  Java should run, and another pop-up message will appear.  Click "Run".

10A.  Another pop-up window should appear.  After you enter your sign-in information, click "Authenticate".

11A.  The window should close.  You should be returned to your web browser, and you should be logged into the appropriate USPTO system.


6B.   Press Control key and Right click Open the file.

7B.  Java should run, and another pop-up message will appear.  Click "Run".

8B.  Another pop-up window should appear.  After you enter your sign-in information, click "Authenticate".

9B.  The window should close.  You should be returned to your web browser, and you should be logged into the appropriate USPTO system.

     Hats off to Robert Rose for reminding me about the faster option.

- Henry Park

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Going beyond - Rivers as a persons

     A couple of days ago, I posted about an attorney in New York who was trying to have two chimpanzees recognized as persons.

     I cannot believe it, but this is even more out there.  A few days ago a river, the Whanganui, in New Zealand was granted the same legal rights as a human being and two people were appointed as its guardians (The Guardian cite).

And, it turns out, that New Zealand isn't in the country to have granted legal personhood status to a river this week. India did it to two of its rivers last week, the Ganges and Yamuna (The Guardian cite).

- Henry Park

Updated on 3/25 to add last paragraph, and name of the river in New Zealand.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Primate business

     A while ago, I posted about whether a monkey could be an author and thus own a copyright.  The District Court held that under the U.S. Copyright Act authorship does not extend to animals (see Order). That case is still trudging along because on July 28, 2016, PETA filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (link to Appeal brief, link to Answering brief).

     I just saw an article on Yahoo where an attorney in New York was arguing that two chimpanzees should be treated as a legal persons, such that habeas corpus, would apply to them so they could be taken from their current homes and placed in a wildlife refuge.

- Henry Park

Image is licensed under the CCO v1.0 license.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Trademark - Something familiar (part 3)

     Being from the U.S., there is a chain called Pret A Manger, although they now go by Pret.

    I recently saw this sign in Zurich, Switzerland.

Similar, but different.  In Switzerland, PRET A MANGER and LE PRET A MANGER are registered trademarks to different owners.  In both cases, these families of marks are design marks (e.g., logos), which limits their breadth.  The first wave of PRET A MANGER design marks were registered  in 2001, however, they were removed from the register. Interestingly, the second wave of PRET A MANGER design marks and the LE PRET A MANGER design marks both were registered in 2011. See the Swissreg website (PRET A MANGER, registration numbers 618347, 619942, and 625679) (LE PRET A MANGER, registration numbers 620498, 620499, and 673908).

- Henry Park

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trademark - Something about this feels familiar (part 2)

     I was just in Germany with a colleague, when I saw this store.

     It sure seems like a TJ Maxx store.  According to Wikipedia, TJ Maxx changed its branding to TK Maxx in Europe because there was another existing European store chain called T J Hughes (link).  I reached out to TJ Maxx's Media Relations department to confirm whether this is was, but they have not yet responded.

- Henry Park

Monday, March 6, 2017

Daylight Saving Time will start in the US on March 12

     On Sunday, March 12th, the U.S. will start daylight saving time.  The U.S. starts daylight saving time two weeks before Switzerland, and the rest of Europe (on March 26).  Thus, for the next two weeks, the number of hours between New York, NY (ET) and Central European Time (CET) will decrease to five (5) hours.

- Henry Park

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Copyright - Don't forget about termination rights

     In an earlier post, I discussed how work-for-hire language in an employment agreement only functions to change the default ownership of a work if it falls into one of the nine specific categories, and therefore, as a safety precaution, you may want to include copyright assignment language.

     Copyright assignments, however, come with a big caveat.  An author has the right to terminate its copyright grant, 17 U.S.C. § 304(c) (grants before January 1, 1978) and 17 U.S.C. § 203(a) (grants after January 1, 1978), and this right cannot be contracted away.  17 U.S.C. § 203(a)(5); Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207, 230 (1990) ("The 1976 Copyright Act provides ... an inalienable termination right."). Congress gave authors this right because it was concerned about the imbalance of power between authors and publisher, and that authors might receive too little compensation when they first assigned their works.  The termination right gives authors a second chance at exploiting their works. At the moment, musicians appear to be the primary authors taking advantage of the termination right. For example, Victor Willis of the group Village People filed a termination notice concerning the song Y.M.C.A. and some of the rights reverted to him (see Spin article). But, there is no reason that computer programmers, book authors, photographers, or others will not take advantage of this right.

     There are some limits on the termination right. First and most importantly, while termination stops new derivative works from being created, it does not stop existing derivative works from being used lawfully. Second, the termination rights only affect U.S. copyrights. It doesn't affect foreign rights in the copyrighted work. Thus, an author cannot stop foreign distributors from continuing to distribute the work. Third, the termination right does not apply if the grant was made in a will.  17 U.S.C. § 203(a). Fourth, if you don't use the termination right, then it is lost.

     This post examines how to terminate a copyright grant given after January 1, 1978.

     To terminate an assignment, an author must send a written notice to the assignee. 17 U.S.C. § 203(a)(4). The notice must state the effective date of termination, and the notice must be served at least two years but not more than ten years before that date. There are a host of other requirements, such as the name of each grantee whose rights are being terminated and each address at which the service of the notice is being made. 37 C.F.R. § 201.10.  Additionally, the notice must be recorded before the effective date of termination in the Copyright Office.

     A grant may be terminated at any time during a period of five years beginning at the end of 35 years from the date of execution of the grant.  17 U.S.C. § 203(a)(3).  Or, if the grant covers the right of publication of the work, the period begins at the end of 35 years from the date of publication of the work, or at the end of 40 years from the date of execution of the grant, whichever term ends earlier.

- Henry Park