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WACOM TO BROADEN DIGITAL PEN INTEROPERABILITY IN THE MARKETPLACE UNDER UNIVERSAL PEN FRAMEWORK (UPF) ALONG WITH MICROSOFT

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Wacom Co., Ltd announced today its Universal Pen Framework (UPF) initiative has entered a new stage with Microsoft Corp. licensing its Microsoft Pen protocol to Wacom. In the near future Wacom’s digital pen solutions will incorporate both Microsoft Pen and Wacom Active ESTM Pen protocols. Wacom is working to build pens that support both protocols, targeting delivery this holiday season at the end of 2016.

“This is truly groundbreaking: now we have two leading pen protocols—by Microsoft and Wacom—that can be tapped on demand with a single pen,” said Masahiko Yamada, President & CEO of Wacom.  “Supporting multiple protocols makes our pen incredibly fast and easy for people to write intelligent notes, be creative, and get productive on their Windows 10 devices.  As well as advocating the digital pen as a primary interface tool for mobile products and services, we also believe in the power of digital ink as a transformational medium. Digital ink can convey people’s creativity by enabling ideas to be captured and shared over the cloud, while sustaining the evolution of those ideas. I’m looking forward to seeing how we can accelerate the emergence of digital stationery in collaboration with valued partners like Microsoft,” he added

“Windows Ink makes it easy for people to turn their thoughts into actions,” said Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president of Windows Developer Platform, Microsoft, Corp. “People that use pens with their Windows 10 devices are happier, more engaged, more creative, and productive. Today‘s agreement with Wacom will help all customers get a great Windows Ink experience no matter what pen-enabled Windows 10 device they have.”

Wacom has been supplying its Active ESTM pen solution to a number of OEM customers since 2014.  In order to ensure interoperability of digital pens among multiple platforms, Wacom has been developing the multi-protocol pen technology in collaboration with key IT industry players such touch controller suppliers, display manufacturers and platform developers, under the name of UPF (version 2.0).

As part of the UPF 2.0 initiative, this agreement between the two companies makes it possible for Wacom to manufacture multi-protocol pen solutions including Microsoft Pen and Active ESTM protocols on demand.  It is hoped that this will help to bolster broad consumer demand for digital pen and ink as enabling tools for communication, expression, business, education and entertainment, covering various aspects of people’s daily activities.

On January 7, 2016, Wacom introduced the Digital Stationery Consortium, which promotes the digital inking experience across multiple mobile ecosystems and solutions through collaboration with companies across a range of sectors, from IT hardware, software and service providers, through to businesses in stationery, publishing and education fields. The agreement on digital pen protocols is a huge step forward toward the era of simple, high-quality digital pen and ink experience, and it will form one of the pillars of the Digital Stationery Consortium

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Oil prices hit 11-month highs on tighter supplies, Fed assurance on low rates

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Oil prices hit 11-month highs on tighter supplies, Fed assurance on low rates 1

By Florence Tan

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices rose for a fourth straight session on Thursday to the highest levels in more than 11 months, underpinned by monetary easing policies and lower crude production in the United States.

Brent crude futures for April gained 19 cents, 0.3%, to $67.23 a barrel by 0400 GMT, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude for April was at $63.30 a barrel, up 8 cents, 0.1%.

Both contracts touched their highest since January earlier in the session with Brent at $67.44 and WTI at $63.67.

An assurance from the U.S. Federal Reserve that interest rates would stay low for a while boosted investors’ risk appetite and global financial markets.

“Comments from Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell, earlier in the week relating to the need for monetary policy to remain accommodative have probably helped, but sentiment in the oil market has also become more bullish, with expectations for a tightening oil balance,” ING analysts said in a note.

A rare winter storm in Texas has caused U.S. crude production to drop by more than 10%, or 1 million barrels per day (bpd) last week, the Energy Information Administration said. [EIA/S]

Fuel supplies in the world’s largest oil consumer could also tighten as its refinery crude inputs had dropped to the lowest since September 2008.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and their allies including Russia, a group known as OPEC+, is due to meet on March 4.

The group will discuss a modest easing of oil supply curbs from April given a recovery in prices, OPEC+ sources said, although some suggest holding steady for now given the risk of new setbacks in the battle against the pandemic.

Extra voluntary cuts by Saudi Arabia in February and March have tightened global supplies and supported prices.

(Reporting by Florence Tan)

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Australian media reforms pass parliament after last-ditch changes

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Australian media reforms pass parliament after last-ditch changes 2

By Colin Packham and Swati Pandey

CANBERRA (Reuters) – The Australian parliament on Thursday passed a new law designed to force Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for content used on their platforms in reforms that could be replicated in other countries.

Australia will be the first country where a government arbitrator will decide the price to be paid by the tech giants if commercial negotiations with local news outlets fail.

The legislation was watered down, however, at the last minute after a standoff between the government and Facebook culminated in the social media company blocking all news for Australian users.

Subsequent amendments to the bill included giving the government the discretion to release Facebook or Google from the arbitration process if they prove they have made a “significant contribution” to the Australian news industry.

Some lawmakers and publishers have warned that could unfairly leave smaller media companies out in the cold, but both the government and Facebook have claimed the revised legislation as a win.

“The code will ensure that news media businesses are fairly remunerated for the content they generate, helping to sustain public-interest journalism in Australia,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said in a joint statement on Thursday.

The progress of the legislation has been closely watched around the world as countries including Canada and Britain consider similar steps to rein in the dominant tech platforms.

The revised code, which also includes a longer period for the tech companies to strike deals with media companies before the state intervenes, will be reviewed within one year of its commencement, the statement said. It did not provide a start date.

The legislation does not specifically name Facebook or Google. Frydenberg said earlier this week he will wait for the tech giants to strike commercial deals with media companies before deciding whether to compel both to do so under the new law.

Google has struck a series of deals with publishers, including a global content arrangement with News Corp, after earlier threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia over the laws.

Several media companies, including Seven West Media, Nine Entertainment and the Australian Broadcasting Corp have said they are in talks with Facebook.

Representatives for both Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to requests from Reuters for comment on Thursday.

(Reporting by Colin Packham in Canberra and Swati Pandey in Sydney; Writing by Jonathan Barrett; Editing by Leslie Adler, Stephen Coates and Jane Wardell)

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OPEC+ to weigh modest oil output boost at meeting – sources

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OPEC+ to weigh modest oil output boost at meeting - sources 3

By Ahmad Ghaddar, Alex Lawler and Olesya Astakhova

LONDON/MOSCOW (Reuters) – OPEC+ oil producers will discuss a modest easing of oil supply curbs from April given a recovery in prices, OPEC+ sources said, although some suggest holding steady for now given the risk of new setbacks in the battle against the pandemic.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies, known as OPEC+, cut output by a record 9.7 million bpd last year as demand collapsed due to the pandemic. As of February, it is still withholding 7.125 million bpd, about 7% of world demand.

In January OPEC+ slowed the pace of a planned output increase to match weaker-than-expected demand due to continued coronavirus lockdowns. Saudi Arabia made extra voluntary cuts for February and March.

Three OPEC+ sources said an output increase of 500,000 barrels per day from April looked possible without building up inventories, although updated supply and demand balances that ministers will consider at their March 4 meeting will determine their decision.

“The oil price is definitely high and the market needs more oil to cool the prices down,” one of the OPEC+ sources said. “A 500,000 bpd increase from April is an option – looks like a good one.”

A rally in prices towards $67 a barrel, the highest since January 2020, the rollout of vaccines and economic recovery hopes have boosted confidence the market could take more oil. India, the world’s third biggest oil importer, has urged OPEC+ to ease production cuts.

Saudi Arabia’s voluntary cut of 1 million barrels per day (bpd) ends next month. While Riyadh hasn’t shared its plans beyond March, expectations in the group are growing that Saudi Arabia will bring back the supply from April, perhaps gradually.

Some OPEC+ members also anticipate that the Saudis will be willing to ease cuts further, but it was not clear if they had had direct communication with Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia has warned producers to be “extremely cautious” and some OPEC members are wary of renewed demand setbacks. One OPEC country source said a full return of the Saudi barrels in April would mean the rest of OPEC+ should not pump more yet.

“The Saudi voluntary cut will be back to the market,” the source said. “I’m personally with no more relaxation, not until June.”

Russia, one of the OPEC+ countries which was allowed to boost output in February, is keen to raise supply and a source last week said Moscow would propose adding more oil if nothing changed before the March 4 virtual meeting.

(Additional reporting by Rania El Gamal and Nidhi Verma; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

 

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