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FINTECH COMPANIES MUST NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE IMPORTANCE OF EFFECTIVE IP MANAGEMENT

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FINTECH Companies Must Not Underestimate The Importance Of Effective IP Management

By Joan Mill, Head of Sales, FusionExperience

Over the past three years, global investment in FinTech(Financial & Technology) companies has grown four times faster than venture capital investing overall, according to a report by Accenture. Whilst this is clearly good news for the industry, firms in this sector will need to protect their reputation for innovation by capitalising on it in order to maintain momentum and remain internationally competitive.To achieve this goal, however, firms will not only need to grow their Intellectual Property Portfolio, but also find new ways of managing it more effectively.

Citing the Performance & Accountability Report (US Patent and Trademark Office), the annual number of patent actions filed, once again estab­lishes a new record high with close to 6,500 cases filed in 2013. Similarly, according to the EPO’s website, filings for 2013 were up by 2.8%. If we were to look back 5 years, that’s an increase of over 54,000 filings. The question one now has to ask is, how many ideas/inventions are actually submitted, vetted, reviewed, shortlisted, tested and shortlisted again…before being filed, and how are IP divisions coping with this influx?

FINTECH Companies Must Not Underestimate The Importance Of Effective IP Management

FINTECH Companies Must Not Underestimate The Importance Of Effective IP Management

This question is handled by IP divisions of companies or governments on a daily basis. Due to the digital age we live in whereby data can flow in and out of enterprises so easily, IP workers need to have the means to effectively manage information. By means, one is referring to the appropriate software to take on the uncontrollable growth of ideas. We live in an age where more than ever, it is advertised that ideas make money. Gone are the days where most ideas were brought forward by a particular sex, race, class or age; now, anyone can bring forth an idea as long as you have the digital capability. This suggests that the fintech sector need to get better at receiving IP submissions so they can rapidly get them through the IP lifecycle and ready for filing. This is where the notion and benefit of ‘first to file’ comes into play. If you have legacy systems which prove clunky, difficult to use or just plain slow, you are in trouble. Don’t take my word for it; ask your inventors what they think of your invention submission process, system or tool. You may be surprised at the answer.

As we all know, IP presents itself in a variety of different forms. Due to its complex nature, it is often the case that a patent for example, is in essence a combination of data and one or more algorithms. This enables a patent engineer to qualify as to the novel nature of said patent. The interesting hurdle here is again, novelty. It has been the winning factor for the fintech sector, and not securing it would be a massive loss in opportunities.

The question therefore becomes, ‘how do we manage and therefore defend it and the variety of forms it takes on?’ Arguably, even fintech companies should fight technology with, you guessed it: technology. Big Data or smart data, means IP divisions have more and more information coming through than most can handle. It also means more diligence, efficiency and accuracy is required. These are all signs pointing toward the need for robust, dynamic and sharp responses. There is a lot that human beings can do and one of them is enabling technology to do what we can do but faster, more accurately and resulting in more relevant correlations. Innovative technology is out there for us to use and has been for a while, however many companies are not accepting the invitation. The variety of ideas and inventions in IP mean that to gain market advantage, companies need to be quicker and more nimble. This is impossible with cumbersome, slow legacy systems dragging them back. This leaves fintech companies in a place of being fearful of what their competitors are doing but without a dynamic system to spring them back in line with the herd.

It is clear that there needs to be a healthy balance between technical automation and human intervention. The question still remains however; which IP divisions, companies or indeed governments will seek to gain a competitive advantage by including data and technology in their infrastructure to fulfil their IP strategy? This doesn’t necessarily make them greedy or fearful but merely, smart.

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March – Bloomberg News

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Robinhood plans confidential IPO filing as soon as March - Bloomberg News 1

(Reuters) – Online brokerage Robinhood, at the centre of this year’s retail trading frenzy, is planning to file confidentially for an initial public offering as soon as March, Bloomberg News reported late on Friday, citing sources.

The California-based brokerage has held talks in the past week with underwriters about moving forward with a filing within weeks, Bloomberg said.

Robinhood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Reuters reported last year that Robinhood has picked Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead preparations for an initial public offering which could value it at more than $20 billion.

Robinhood was at the heart of a mania that gripped retail investors in late January following calls on Reddit thread WallStreetBets to trade certain stocks that were being heavily shorted by hedge funds.

The online brokerage tapped around $3.4 billion in funding after its finances were strained due to the massive trading in shares of companies such as GameStop Corp.

(Reporting by Ann Maria Shibu in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies

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Analysis: How idled car factories super-charged a push for U.S. chip subsidies 2

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – When President Joe Biden on Wednesday stood at a lectern holding a microchip and pledged to support $37 billion in federal subsidies for American semiconductor manufacturing, it marked a political breakthrough that happened much more quickly than industry insiders had expected.

For years, chip industry executives and U.S. government officials have been concerned about the slow drift of costly chip factories to Taiwan and Korea. While major American companies such as Qualcomm Inc and Nvidia Corp dominate their fields, they depend on factories abroad to build the chips they design.

As tensions with China heated up last year, U.S. lawmakers authorized manufacturing subsidies as part of an annual military spending bill due to concerns that depending on foreign factories for advanced chips posed national security risks. Yet funding for the subsidies was not guaranteed.

Then came the auto-chip crunch. Ford Motor Co said a lack of chips could slash a fifth of its first-quarter production and General Motors Co cut output across North America.

“It brings home very clearly the message that the semiconductor is really a critical component in a lot of the end products we take for granted,” said Mike Rosa, head of strategic and technical marketing for a group within semiconductor manufacturing toolmaker Applied Materials Inc that sells tools to automotive chip factories.

Within weeks, automakers joined chip companies calling for chip factory subsidies, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden both pledged to fight for funding.

Industry backers now aim to be part of a package of legislation to counter China that Schumer hopes to bring to the Senate floor this spring. Still, all agree it will do little to solve the immediate auto-chip problem.

Headlines about idled car plants resonated with the public that had shrugged off abstract warnings in the past, said Jim Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lawmakers, already worried that a promised infrastructure bill will not materialize this year, decided to push for quick solution.

“Nobody wants to be seen as soft on China. No one wants to tell the Ford workers in their district, ‘Sorry, can’t help,'” Lewis said. “It was one of those moments where everything aligned.”

The package includes matching funds for state and local chip-plant subsidies, a provision likely to heat up competition among states including Texas and Arizona to host big new chip plants that can cost as much as $20 billion.

The subsidies could benefit a factory in Arizona proposed by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co and one in Texas eyed by Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, even though those factories would be geared toward high-end chips for smartphones and laptops, rather than simpler auto chips. And those factories would not come on line until 2023 or 2024, according to plans disclosed by the companies, the world’s two largest chip manufacturers.

In the longer term, a raft of U.S. companies are also poised to benefit. Any chipmakers that build factories will source many tools from American companies such as Applied, Lam Research Corp and KLA Corp.

Intel Corp, Micron Technology Inc and GlobalFoundries – which already have U.S. factory networks – will also likely benefit.

Smaller, specialty chip factories also could benefit.

“The recent chip shortage in the automotive industry has highlighted the need to strengthen the microelectronics supply chain in the U.S.,” said Thomas Sonderman, chief executive of SkyWater Technology, a Minnesota-based chipmaker that makes automotive and defense chips. “We believe that SkyWater is uniquely positioned due to our differentiated business model and status as a U.S.- owned and U.S.- operated pure play semiconductor contract manufacturer.”

Even with subsidies, the U.S. companies still must compete with low-cost Asian vendors over the long run, and the immediate auto chip troubles will probably persist.

Surya Iyer, a vice president at Minnesota-based Polar Semiconductor, which makes chips for automakers, said his factory is booked beyond capacity and has started to speed some orders up while slowing others down, to meet automakers’ needs as best it can.

“We are expecting this level of demand to continue at least for the next 12 months, maybe even longer,” he said.

(This story has been refiled to add attribution to quote in paragraph 9, add dropped words in paragraphs 10 and 17)

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis and Hyunjoo Jin in San Francisco and Alexandra Alper in Washington. Editing by Jonathan Weber and David Gregorio)

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks

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Atlantia disappointed with CDP bid for unit, continues talks 3

By Francesca Landini and Stephen Jewkes

MILAN (Reuters) – Italy’s Atlantia said on Friday an offer by a consortium of investors led by state lender CDP for its 88% stake in Autostrade per l’Italia fell short of the mark and asked its top managers to see if the bid could be sweetened.

“The offer falls below expectations,” the Italian infrastructure group said in a statement, adding it had mandated the chief executive and the chairman to assess “the potential for the necessary substantial improvements” to the bid.

Italian state lender CDP, together with co-investors Macquarie and Blackstone, has presented a proposal valuing all of Autostrade per l’Italia at 9.1 billion euros ($11 billion).

The consortium also requested Atlantia guarantee up to 700 million euros in potential damage claims and another roughly 800 million euros for a pending legal case, making the bid less attractive than previously expected.

One source said the consortium estimated overall pending legal claims against Autostrade at 3 billion to 4 billion euros, adding the 700 million euro cap did not mean the amount would be detracted from the offer price from the start.

Earlier on Friday Atlantia’s minority investors TCI and Spinecap had called on Atlantia’s board to reject the offer, saying it undervalued the asset.

“No deal is better than a bad deal, especially a bad deal and a wrong price,” TCI Advisory Services partner Jonathan Amouyal said in a emailed comment to Reuters.

TCI, which holds an indirect stake of around 10% in Atlantia, repeated that the value for 100% of Autostrade should be no less than 12.5 billion euros.

The board will hold a further meeting in order to take a final decision on the offer in due time, Atlantia said.

The negotiations between Atlantia and the CDP-led consortium are part of an effort to end a political dispute over Autostrade’s motorway concession triggered by the collapse of a motorway bridge run by the unit.

(GRAPHIC – Atlantia share performance: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/mkt/qzjpqggjdpx/image-1614331237501.png)

The bid expires on March 16, but the deadline could be extended in case Atlantia calls an extraordinary shareholders meeting (EGM) on the issue, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.

Shares in the group ended down 0,7%, after recovering some losses, as investors waited for the decision of the board.

Atlantia, which is controlled by the Benetton family, owns 88% of Autostrade, with Germany’s Allianz and funds DIF, EDF Invest and China’s Silk Road Fund holding the rest.

The group also kept open an alternative plan to demerge and sell its stake in Autostrade per l’Italia unit and called an EGM on March 29 to extend to end-July a deadline for offers for the demerged stake.

(Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei, editing by Louise Heavens and Steve Orlofsky)

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