Tag Archives: industrial goods

Food Prices Have Soared. Here are some stocks to play with the trend. | Instant News


Investors often miss spikes in food prices because economists tend to focus on inflation data that removes food and other volatile categories. This, Brooklyn, NY grocery store.

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Big Tech Wants To Change Patent Laws in Germany, a Popular Place for Litigation | Instant News


Now, a coalition of German blue-chip companies and foreign multinationals, including major US technology companies, is pushing for laws that will reduce the country’s appeal to those wanting to assert their intellectual property.

Germany’s major patent courts, in Munich, Mannheim and Düsseldorf, systematically order orders, or temporary sales bans, for products subject to a patent lawsuit. That makes them attractive legal venues for patent holders.

The primary targets of the legislation are so-called non-practical entities, or NPEs, that accumulate a portfolio of patents they license instead of using them in their own products. Critics call them patent trolls.

The proposed rules aim to make it harder for plaintiffs to win court decisions. The initiative has divided Germany’s usually united business community, pitting some of the country’s biggest patent users against its biggest patent holders.

Volkswagen AG

,

SAP SE,

Deutsche Telekom AG

and others support the bill.

Bayer AG

,

Siemens AG

and BASF SE has opposed it.

Foreign companies have joined. Apple, Samsung,

Nvidia Corp.

and

Microsoft Corp.

, among others, have joined European lobby groups pushing for the move. On the other hand are similar companies

3M Together.

,

Panasonic Corp.

,

Ericsson

A band

Nokia Corp.

, which over the years has accumulated many patent libraries.

Multinational corporations often steer cases to lucrative legal venues around the world using their remote subsidiaries. Patent litigators say the ability to get a court order could be key for patent holders choosing jurisdiction for a lawsuit.

“In the German legal tradition, if you are doing something you shouldn’t be doing, then first you have to stop,” said Florian Mueller, an independent intellectual property analyst. “Repair is an afterthought.”

Such orders are more difficult to enforce in the US, following changes in law and a series of Supreme Court decisions. This is especially so if the plaintiff is an NPE. Other friendly legal venues for patent holders have emerged outside the US, including China, Turkey and Russia, all of which have established frameworks for intellectual property protection.

Germany’s almost automatic orders, its large consumer market, and the fast working speed of its patent courts compared to other European countries have made it the venue of choice for some of the biggest patent fights in the West.


“Germany has undeniably become a haven for patent trolls.”


– Deutsche Telekom executive Stephan Altmeyer

In December 2018, a court in Munich ordered Apple to stop selling some iPhone models after the chipmaker

Qualcomm Inc.

filed a lawsuit, alleging that a fellow California company had infringed on Qualcomm’s patents on the iPhone modem chip. That command forced Apple to briefly deliver a custom made phone to Germany. Both the company then settled down.

The previous year, chip maker

Broadcom Inc.

sued Volkswagen and its Audi subsidiary, accusing the automaker of infringing Broadcom’s patents in navigation and entertainment systems. Rather than risk an order that would stop production, Volkswagen paid nearly 500 million euros, the equivalent of about $ 598 million, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Volkswagen declined to comment on the settlement. Broadcom did not respond to a request for comment.

Proponents of the proposed law say that Germany’s patent law, which has its roots in the 19th century, is out of date. When Carl Benz received a patent for his car in 1886, “it was one patent for one product,” said Ludwig von Reiche, managing director of Nvidia in Germany. He heads Germany’s IP2Innovate branch, the European lobby group that pushed for the bill.

Today’s increasingly digital vehicles may involve more than 100,000 patents on everything from internet connectivity, sensors and algorithms to individual microchip circuits, he said.

Proponents of the bill say the current system puts too much pressure on companies to choose expensive solutions. They also said the changes would curb the NPE, which they accuse of preying on the company in German courts to increase licensing fees from its sometimes large patent portfolio.

“Germany has undeniably become a haven for patent trolls,” said Stephan Altmeyer, vice president of patent strategy at Deutsche Telekom.

Lawsuits in the European Union pursued by the NPE tripled between 2011 and 2017 – the last year for which figures were available – according to

Clarivate,

a data provider that tracks intellectual property litigation. In Germany, one-fifth of patent cases were brought by the NPE in that period, compared with 4% to 6% in other European countries.

The bill currently being processed in the German parliament was drafted by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government last year but has undergone changes following pressure from lobbyists on both sides. Proponents of the reshuffle hope the law can be adopted before general elections in September. Failure to do so could force subsequent governments to restart projects from scratch.

The law will require judges to carry out a proportionality check before rendering a decision, to ensure that the charges charged against the offender do not massively exceed the revenue claimed by the claiming party. It will also force courts to consider the impact of court orders on third parties – customers whose telephone service will be interrupted, for example, or patients who may not be given life-saving drugs.

It also promises to overcome the peculiarities of the German legal system. Patent infringement cases are handled in regional courts, which can reach a decision in less than one year. But a patent invalidity lawsuit – which tests whether the patents claimed by the plaintiffs are actually valid and is the preferred defense of companies sued for infringement – goes through the special German patent courts, which can take up to three times as long to render a decision.

The NPE says the planned changes are worrying. A ban on sales that the court imposed during the litigation level on the ground, they said. The order could “bring large companies to the negotiating table,” Pio Suh, managing director of IPCom GmbH, Germany’s NPE owned by Fortress Investment Group LLC, a New York-based investment management firm.

The pharmaceutical industry is particularly worrying, where investments to develop new drugs can run into billions of euros and patent infringements could wipe out revenue from certain drugs within months, according to industry executives, creating a strong disincentive to innovation.

Bill critics also argue that since damage in Germany is lower than in the US, and punitive damages do not exist at all, removing the automated order would skew the system and remove most of the barriers to abuses.

“It’s like making a fine for the fare of avoiding ticket prices,” said Beat Weibel, chief intellectual property advisor at Siemens. “We need serious consequences such as automated orders to balance the system.”

Write to Bertrand Benoit at [email protected]

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CEO of ‘Builderman’ Roblox Goes to Wall Street with Troop of Young Gamers | Instant News


Chief Executive Roblox Corp. David Baszucki won the loyalty of tens of millions of videogamers with a do-it-yourself gaming approach that defies industry-specific formulas for success.

Roblox is slated to make its public market debut March 10 through direct listing, an unconventional process that allows companies to trade on the stock exchange without raising new capital. The company based in San Mateo, California, was founded in 2004, rotated from traditional public offerings last year after

By Dash Inc.

and

Airbnb Inc.

jumped beyond expectations in their IPO.

Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki, pictured in 2018, is a frequent presence on the platform, under the name ‘Builderman.’


Photo:

Steve Jennings / Getty Images for TechCrunch

Roblox’s debut is coming as the coronavirus pandemic has prompted people to do so spend more money and time on video games than before. Tech valuations have surged over the past year – Roblox was personally worth $ 29.5 billion in January, up more than seven times from early 2020 – although the stocks have recently faltered amid shifting investor sentiment that an improved economy will benefit the sector other.

Instead of relying on Hollywood-like budgets and rock star talent to produce a few blockbuster games each year, Roblox is shifting game development to its own players. These players, especially teenagers and preteens, in turn produce their own hits and earn 70% of the revenue their work generates.

“We are like YouTube, except our content is a game, and our content allows everyone to play together,” Baszucki said in 2018 while speaking at his alma mater, Stanford University. The 58-year-old man himself often appears at Roblox, using the name “Builderman”.

This approach has earned Roblox an estimated 33 million daily users who can choose between tens of millions of multiplayer games, ranging from obstacle challenges and catch the flag iterations to contests based on popular characters like Peppa Pig and Sonic the Hedgehog. The company provides free tools and instructions that players – even those with no coding experience – can use to create games for its platform.

Samuel Jordan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took a hiatus from college about a year ago to focus on creating games and other digital content for Roblox with his business partners. The 21-year-old, who participated in the company-run accelerator program in the summer of 2019, says he made about $ 600,000 last year from his Roblox creations, up from $ 30,000 in 2019.

“This is crazy,” Jordan said, adding that the pandemic was likely to contribute to a tremendous increase. More than 300 Roblox developers made $ 100,000 or more last year, the company said.

The health crisis provided significant fuel for Roblox’s business. Revenue grew 82% last year to $ 923.9 million, while orders – sales of virtual items on the platform – more than doubled to about $ 1.9 billion.

Samuel Jordan of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, says he made an estimated $ 600,000 last year from his Roblox creations.


Photo:

Maria Alejandra Cardona for The Wall Street Journal

London’s Alan and Sinéidin Cooper said their two daughters, ages 5 and 10, and 7-year-old son each spent about five hours a week at Roblox before the pandemic. Now that time is doubled because they are using the platform to connect with friends. The couple treated their kids to Robux worth around $ 40 to $ 45 per month.

“It’s a great way for them to socialize,” Mr said. Cooper.

Roblox hasn’t been able to turn user loyalty into profit, as its net loss in 2020 swelled to $ 253.3 million from $ 71 million a year earlier. The company has said it plans to continue investing in the platform, which can be used for distance learning, conferences and other group experiences, such as concerts.

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Like other online hangouts featuring user-generated content, Roblox has to contend with predators and troublemakers who target children with inappropriate material – a particular concern given that more than half of the platform’s users are under 13. The company says it has made significant steps to keep users safe, such as by adding a communication filter to eliminate offensive speech.

Supporters include the large venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, Altos Ventures and Greylock Partners. David Sze, a Greylock partner, said the company invested in Roblox partly because of Mr. Baszucki. While other CEOs may have switched from business models after modest initial growth, Mr. Baszucki remains confident in Roblox’s user-created mission, says Sze.

“It’s like 10 years walking through the desert without anyone trusting you,” he said. “Dave against all odds.”

Mr. Baszucki, who declined to be interviewed for this article, started and then sold a software company that specialized in physics simulation before founding Roblox with fellow programmer Erik Cassel, who died of cancer in 2013. They started making games for the platform, but soon invite other players to create their own. Roblox was released to the public in 2006.

“We immediately realized what they were building was much more interesting and exciting than anything we had ever made,” Baszucki wrote in a Roblox securities filing. Mr Baszucki is the largest shareholder of the company and holds 70% of the voting rights. He will forego cash and equity compensation for seven years after Roblox goes public, and in return qualify for a performance-based stock award, which he intends to donate for philanthropic causes.

Mr. Baszucki was an investor in Friendster, an early competitor for

Facebook Inc.,

and he sees Roblox as a combination of Second Life’s social networking platform and online virtual world, said Matt Dusek, a Roblox start-up employee who left the company in 2019. “He sees things as further away than anyone else around him often does,” Said Mr. Dusek.

Samuel Jordan and his business partner Kyle Hulse outside their shared office space in Fort Lauderdale on Thursday.


Photo:

Maria Alejandra Cardona for The Wall Street Journal

In the following years, Roblox gradually expanded its user base. Mr. Baszucki, as “Builderman,” will greet new players digitally, appearing as one of the platform’s signature box avatars and offering tips on how to get started. Popular games inspire players to become developers, who then make more games, attracting more users – the so-called network effect.

Roblox’s user-generated gaming strategy has won praise from industry leaders. Tim Sweeney, CEO of “Fortnite” creator of Epic Games Inc., credits the company for helping gamers become game makers. “Roblox has done a tremendous job building the ecosystem,” he said in an email.

Although the company has warned that people may spend less time with its games as the pandemic fades, it wants to continue to add to its base of more than 8 million developers. Similar to other videogame publishers, Roblox is also looking to join more brands like

Nike Inc.

and

Mattel Inc.

about marketing promotions.

Write to Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]

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Futures Rise After Capitol Riot Inquiry Commission Is Announced | Instant News


AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine bottle

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Rates for Wine, Food from Europe for the Current Stay, said the US | Instant News


WASHINGTON – The Biden government has said it will not end tariffs on European wine, cheese and other food imports any time soon – upsetting industry groups who say the levy is hurting US restaurants and consumers.

The US Trade Representative’s Office said on Friday that there was no need for now to suspend levies, which the Trump administration imposed as part of a long-running dispute with the European Union over subsidies for commercial aircraft.

In a regulatory filing, the USTR said it would “continue to consider the actions taken in the investigation,” referring to a 17-year-old dispute about how the government is subsidizing Boeing Co. and Airbus SE. The Biden administration said it was reviewing tariffs and other major trade policy measures adopted by the previous administration.

Under the Trump administration, the dispute has turned into a tariff fight that has ensnared a food and beverage industry unrelated to aircraft manufacturing. Washington imposed tariffs on $ 7.5 billion worth of European wine and food such as cheese and olives by the end of 2019.

The European Union retaliated with levies on US whiskey, nuts and tobacco worth an estimated $ 4.5 billion. The US increased sanctions on December 31 with additional tariffs, putting nearly all wine imports from France and Germany below 25%.

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