Om Sai Ram

Om Sai Ram

Friday, February 7, 2014

Dog Eating in Korea and the Western Obsession

I am increasingly getting sick and tired of people who make a noise about dog-meat soup, whenever there is a major global event in South Korea. As this news article notes:
Animal rights activists from around the world are calling for the boycott of September’s Incheon Asian Games, while planning to stage street protests against “bosintang” or dog meat soup.
And now...the digital edition of Wall Street Journal has added its bit.
Before you jump to conclusions; I am a dog-lover.  I have four dogs (adopted 2), and will adopt more, if my budget permits. But this kind of reaction is just nonsense.
Media hype for their 15 seconds of fame.
Most of the western journalists who come here to cover global events are ill-informed and jump at the ‘story’ just to get more traction, and an ‘exclusive byline.’
People have to understand that eating Bosingtan is a tradition here. While most of the younger folk are against this tradition (as is my Korean wife), you just cannot wish it away, just because it hurts your sensibilities.
There are strict regulations in place, which are unfortunately not implemented. Fight for making the regulations watertight, so that the dogs which are slaughtered, do not face torture. But do not impose your will on traditional norms here in Korea.
It is very easy to get agitated about animal rights when you see pictures of dogs cooped up in tiny cages, meant for slaughter. A photo-op that visiting journalists crave for. I am against the practice, but still maintain that the regulations should be enforced properly, that is the only way out. If older Koreans love their dog-soup, you have no right to oppose their taste in food. Will anyone in Europe/America listen, if a Hindu says that Cow is a goddess and should not be eaten?
Try to enforce fool-proof systems so that animal cruelty is minimized. A little cultural sensitivity is needed. Unfortunately, the so called ‘animal rights activists’ do not have that.
By the same logic, people in Europe and America should also stop eating beef, pork and horses. There are regulations in place, in their respective countries, which are flouted on many farms.
Activists cannot stop it there (because of the huge corporate lobbies), so why malign Koreans and Chinese for what has been their traditional food?
By all means, control and regulate the industry,  but do not be condescending and look down upon Koreans for eating dog-soup.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Food for Thought: Free download of book on food industry

As is my principle, I DO NOT appreciate the traditional publishing houses ripping off authors. So to make a point, I have always released my books for FREE, only in digital formats. You could say I never got publishers, so this is a face-saving exercise.
What if I told you that I didn't approach them at all? Whatever...
Please find the link to my non-fiction book- Food for Thought.
The role of the Food Industry in helping consumers eat healthily and sustainably received considerable attention in recent years. While the food companies continue to produce enough affordable, quality food for the fast-growing and increasingly prosperous global population, they face a very challenging and volatile environment. Despite being a multi-trillion dollar industry, the worldwide food business’ annual growth is limited to the world’s population base. Competition is intense within the industry, especially in mature markets.This handbook is a compilation of 5 essays on the various important issues that the industry should always monitor. These include: Water Challenges, Food Waste, Climate Change, IP Rights, and Aging Population.

Download it, if you think it might be useful for you. If not, what the hell, it is FREE :0  BTW, I also wrote  two other non-fiction books and a novel- the download links are on your right!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Traditional Winter Food

A variety of seasonal snacks and foods are available in Korea during the biting cold winter season. They include the savory and sweet winter street snacks like bungeoppang, hotteok, baked sweet potatoes, and hoppang, along with the traditional winter dishes such as gimjang kimchi, tteokguk, and manduguk.
Kimchi is the quintessential Korean food and comes in numerous varieties. Wintertime kimchi-making is known as “gimjang,” a time when households in Korea prepare and store kimchi in massive quantities for the winter months. Traditionally, gimjang kimchi making had been one of the most important winter preparation tasks for housewives.
An important part of gimjang is the storing of the final product. To allow for proper fermentation, gimjang kimchi is best kept near 0 with minimal temperature fluctuation. In the past, special holes were dug in which kimchi jars were buried and covered with straw mats to ferment during the winter. Today, most Korean households have two refrigerators. One is just your average refrigerator while the other is a uniquely Korean appliance used exclusively for kimchi storage.
Meanwhile, the winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and has the most hours of darkness. It usually falls around December 22 on the solar calendar. A traditional Korean winter solstice event is making and eating red bean paste porridge called “patjuk”.
Red beans are boiled and small balls of glutinous rice are added, making a thick and sweet porridge. Red beans symbolize the chasing away of evil spirits, and the rice balls symbolize new life. Therefore, eating a delicious bowl of patjuk on winter solstice was believed to chase away all illnesses. Also, eating the same number of rice balls as one’s age symbolizes the successful passing of the year.
In the past, Koreans would sprinkle red bean paste porridge around the yard and share the dish with neighbors to chase away evil spirits. At the time, many also believed that a warm winter solstice meant the coming of disease and death, while a cold, snowy winter solstice meant a prosperous New Year.
Although the winter solstice is not a major Korean holiday like Chuseok or Lunar New Year’s Day, Korean families do get together to enjoy a sweet bowl of red bean paste porridge and wish each other a healthy and prosperous New Year.
Manduguk (dumpling soup) is a dish that is regularly eaten by Koreans in the winter. Dumplings are filled with minced beef and vegetables, put in a broth along with sliced rice cakes, and boiled to perfection. You may even find restaurants that serve pink and yellow dumplings colored with natural dyes. Although eaten throughout the year, manduguk is especially favored in the winter and is traditionally served on New Year’s Day. It is best enjoyed with gimjang kimchi (kimchi prepared during the winter) or mul-kimchi (watery kimchi served cold).
It doesn’t feel like a real Lunar New Year's Day without a bowl of tteokguk. On the morning of the Lunar New Year, the whole family gathers around to have tteokguk, make New Year's resolutions and wish each other a healthy and prosperous New Year. In recent years, tteokguk has also become a popular food for Solar New Year's Day as well.
To make tteokguk, garaetteok (long, cylinder-shaped tteok) is sliced into thin pieces and placed into a soup stock seasoned with a pinch of salt or a drop of soy sauce. One interesting thing about this dish is that different regions of Korea slice Garaetteok into different shapes, meaning that you can guess the hometown of your cook if you have a keen eye. These days, sliced Garaetteok is enjoyed in a range of soups including manduguk (dumpling soup) and ramen.
Ogokbap Rice, a special food originating from the Jeongwol Daeboreum (first full moon) festival, is a type of cooked white rice mixed with five grains: glutinous rice, glutinous millet, red beans, glutinous kaoliang, and black beans. Depending on the region, some grains are replaced with local substitutes. This healthy tradition may have even led to more households adding grains to their white rice. Another tradition of Jeongwol Daeboreum is to enjoy dried wild vegetables from the previous year. Bureom, a selection of nuts including pine nuts, chestnuts, walnuts, and peanuts, is also enjoyed to wish for good luck in the coming year.

Aging Population and Food Industry

With the global population of 'senior' consumers set to grow by almost 150 million in the next two years, there are massive opportunities for the food industry to target the older consumer.
In 1950, there were 205 million persons aged 60 or over in the world.  By 2012, the number of older persons had increased to almost 810 million. It is projected to more than double by 2050, reaching 2 billion.
According to a recent report published by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and HelpAge International, the aging of the world population is progressive and rapid. It is an unprecedented phenomenon that is affecting nearly all countries of the world. As long as fertility continues to fall or remains low and old age mortality keeps on declining, the proportion of older people will continue to increase.
“The numbers are staggering. In the past ten years alone, the number of people aged 60 or over has risen by 178 million – equivalent to nearly the entire population of Pakistan, the sixth most populous country in the world. And in China alone, the estimated number of older people in 2012 is 180 million,” the report notes.
The number of people who turn 60 each year worldwide is nearly 58 million, equivalent to almost two persons every second. In 2012, people aged 60 or over represent almost 11.5 per cent of our total global population of 7 billion. By 2050, the proportion is projected to nearly double to 22 per cent. By 2050, for the first time there will be more older people than children under 15, the report titled ‘Aging in the Twenty-First Century: A Celebration and A Challenge’ states.
What is aging?
When talking about aging, it is essential to distinguish between population or demographic aging as “the process whereby older individuals become a proportionately larger share of the total population” growing older. This individual process of aging is multidimensional and involves physical, psychological and social changes.
The United Nations uses 60 years to refer to older people. This line, which divides younger and older cohorts of a population, is also used by demographers. However, in many developed countries, the age of 65 is used as a reference point for older persons as this is often the age at which persons become eligible for old-age social security benefits. So, there is no exact definition of “old” as this concept has different meanings in different societies.
Defining “old” is further challenged by the changing average lifespan of human beings. Around 1900, average life expectancy was between 45 and 50 years in the developed countries of that time. Now, life expectancy in developed countries reaches 80 years.
There are other definitions of “old” that go beyond chronological age. Old age as a social construct is often associated with a change of social roles and activities, for example, becoming a grandparent or a pensioner.
Older persons often define old age as a stage at which functional, mental and physical capacity is declining and people are more prone to disease or disabilities. 
As the report notes, population aging is occurring because of declining fertility rates, lower infant mortality and increasing survival at older ages. Total fertility dropped by half from five children per woman in 1950-1955 to 2.5 children in 2010-2015, and it is expected to continue to decline.
Life expectancy at birth has risen substantially across the world; it is not just a developed world phenomenon. In 2010-2015, life expectancy is 78 years in developed countries and 68 years in developing regions. By 2045-2050, newborns can expect to live to 83 years in developed regions and 74 years in developing regions. While overall the world is aging, there are differences in the speed of population aging. It is happening fastest in the developing world.
The report points out that today, almost two in three people aged 60 or over live in developing countries, and by 2050, nearly four in five will live in the developing world.
Challenges of population aging
Population aging has significant social and economic implications at the individual, family, and societal levels. It also has important consequences and opportunities for a country’s development. Although the percentage of older persons is currently much higher in developed countries, the pace of population aging is much more rapid in developing countries and their transition from a young to an old age structure will occur over a shorter period. Not only do developing countries have less time to adjust to a growing population of older persons, they are at much lower levels of economic development and will experience greater challenges in meeting the needs of the increasing numbers of older people.
Financial security is one of the major concerns as people age. It is an issue for both older persons and a growing challenge for families and societies. Population aging is raising concerns about the ability of countries to provide adequate social protection and social security for the growing numbers of older persons. In many countries, the expectation is that the family will take care of its economically dependent older members. While some families support their older relatives, others are not in a financial position to do so in a way that does not affect their own economic situation. Older persons who do not have family to support them are especially vulnerable.
Informal support systems for older persons are increasingly coming under stress, as a consequence, among others, of lower fertility, out-migration of the young, and women working outside the home. There is an increasing consensus that countries must develop social protection systems that cover at least the basic needs of all older persons. Ensuring a secure income in old age is seen as a major challenge for governments facing fiscal problems and competing priorities.
Health is another major concern for older persons. The demographic transition to an aging population, accompanied by an epidemiological transition from the predominance of infectious diseases to non-communicable diseases, is associated with an increasing demand for health care and long-term care. Their management has become an increasing concern for both developing and developed countries.
Maintaining good health and access to health care is a core concern of older people everywhere. In many developed countries quality of care and rising healthcare costs are major issues related to population aging.
As is evident, population aging will present both challenges and opportunities.
An aging world population has placed increased demands on food and beverage manufacturers to take a closer look at their nutritional needs to help seniors manage chronic conditions affiliated with aging, such as heart disease, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
As the average age of the global population rises, companies are looking for ways to more accurately satisfy the specific needs and wants of ‘older consumers’. One of the key opportunity areas is to develop products that help to ameliorate escalating health concerns.  But health is not the only focus, so too is packaging adaptation and segmented communications that appeal but don’t patronize.
There will be more focus on health -- stirring manufacturers to pare down fat and sodium levels even more. Smaller package sizes (or portion sizes within larger packages) will also be in more demand, as appetites get smaller and there are fewer mouths to feed in the house. Finally, individual, single-serve meals (with their accompanying more reasonable portion size) that are convenient and appear healthful will be more in demand among older consumers. Remember also that with smaller appetites the aging consumer will need to pack the same amount of nutrients into a small portion size so the need for nutrient dense food will play a role in product choice.
Another thing to note about an aging population is a decrease in taste buds. At age thirty you have 245 taste buds and by age eighty you have only 64 taste buds. Foods that will appeal to this age group will need to be flavor enhanced. The use of more exotic spices or the addition of herbs may enhance flavor without adding high fat or sodium levels.
Even with healthy eating habits, physical activity and other healthy ways of living there are some things that are just factors that come with an aging population. Increases in the incidences of arthritis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and other medical conditions rise as you age. Since there is a movement towards being more responsible personally for health there will be increased interest in functional foods or herbal remedies that will address these problems.
Another factor to take into consideration is the increasing attention given to the number of the population that is considered obese. This may lead to further requirements by Health Canada or the Food and Drug Administration for nutritional information such as the need to label trans fatty acids in food that will be coming into effect in the United States.
The size of the senior market presents many opportunities for the agri-food sector in the development of food products with health benefits. To better understand and prioritize these opportunities, additional market intelligence is needed on the attitudes and consumption patterns, shopping habits, and needs for products and services for the various segments of the senior population. Industry could look to senior's organizations as partners and sources of information.
For seniors with medical conditions and decreased mobility, specialized foods are required at the retail level as well as for institutions or agencies. Reduced appetites, a reduction in taste and smell acuity and problems with chewing and swallowing would indicate a need for appetizing products that appeal to the eye and have good mouth feel. Opportunities exist for innovation to enhance flavor, taste and texture to improve sensory properties of food along with the nutritional profile. These enhancements can be accomplished through new technologies, new processing methods, food additives and novel ingredients.
Few food products have been specifically marketed to seniors. While industry has been addressing the nutritional needs of seniors through a variety of means that increase access to healthy food choices, there is a significant opportunity to expand on strategies such as altering nutrient levels in pre-packaged foods, developing nutrient-dense foods and ready-made meals, and applying innovative ingredients and technologies to enhance product format and packaging. Some opportunities are explored below.
Sodium Reduction
Reducing the sodium content of food is an important way that industry can help seniors address high blood pressure (a major risk factor for stroke, heart disease and kidney disease).
Trans Fat Reduction
Reformulating products and using new fat sources and ingredients that contain little or no trans fat is helping industry to successfully lower the trans fat content of the diet. Continuing these changes will meet the needs of the senior population who are managing, or are interested in preventing, cardiovascular disease.
Dietary Fiber
Increasing the fiber content of foods can help seniors improve their overall dietary fiber intake to manage blood cholesterol levels and laxation. In addition, fiber can be used to modify product texture to assist with swallowing. The industry can increase the fiber content of many categories of foods by using recognized sources of fiber and new novel fibers.
Nutrient-Dense Foods
Foods that provide higher levels of protein, vitamins, mineral nutrients and sometimes calories in smaller volumes can help seniors meet increased nutrient requirements. The challenge for industry is to develop appetizing, nutrient-dense foods through value-added ingredients, novel ingredients, new technologies, reformulation, fortification and supplementation to meet the unique needs of the various segments of the senior population.
Ready-Made Meals
Most seniors live independently, and in general prefer homemade meals. For older consumers, ready meals are more likely to be perceived as lacking and a compromise in comparison with more traditional meal preparation. However, pre-packaged meals and meal services represent conveniences that could help many meet their nutritional needs.
Pre-packaged meals provide convenience by offering a complete meal that requires easy one-step cooking in the oven or microwave. The food industry may be able to expand this market to help meet seniors' nutritional needs through development of products that appeal in quality, taste and freshness and that meet specific nutritional requirements.
Meal services represent another convenience that could be important to seniors. To reach a broad customer base, marketing would need to counter the perception that this type of service is for the "old and sick". Ingredients that are fresh, portion controlled and partially prepared represent an opportunity that may appeal to the healthy, active senior.
The opportunity also exists to market meal replacements and foods with modified textures not only to institutions but also for distribution at retail and home delivery markets. These types of products can be promoted to professional and family caregivers.

Food Packaging and Labeling
Developing appropriate product format and packaging addresses the special needs of the mature consumer by making food accessible and therefore potentially improving seniors' nutrient intake and ultimately their health status.
Industry can expand current efforts in adapting product packaging to accommodate reduced strength and dexterity. Some trends in packaging that may appeal to the senior population include easy open and reclose, single and double portions, microwave reheating including steam-assisted, stand-up flexible pouches and cook-in barrier bags, flip-top caps in which the product and cap stay together (as opposed to twist tops), and square packages (instead of round) that do not roll.
Use of increased font size and colors with good contrast are especially important for label information. Including instructions on how to open packaging, adjusting package size to contents and including a toll-free number for consumer information are some of the many ways for industry to continue improving upon food and beverage packaging.
Communicating the Health Benefits of Foods
Marketing the health benefits of foods to seniors in clear and meaningful ways will improve consumer knowledge and acceptance of new foods with health benefits. Product labels are the most used source of nutrition information but are in the middle in terms of credibility. Communicating health benefits that are based on scientific substantiation is vital to increasing consumers' trust in the credibility of health claims, thus widening the market to those who have not previously considered purchasing foods for added health benefits. As an additional consideration, simple messages may be better for seniors with declining eyesight.
Nutrient content claims and quantitative declaration of bioactive substances can be used to highlight specific product features. Factual statements identifying the quantity of nutrient in a product are straightforward to use as long as conditions for their use are met.
Nutrient function claims can also be used to highlight product features sought by seniors. CFIA maintains a list of accepted claims that describe the well-established roles of energy or known nutrients that are essential for the maintenance of good health or for normal growth and development.
Manufacturers can make use of health claims approved by regulators for use on food labels of products that meet the conditions of use.
The aging population has been identified as one of the most important challenges facing the world as the twenty-first century progresses. This carries numerous implications for the global food industry, as this increasingly affluent demographic group is more inclined to seek out products that promote health and longevity, and/or address emerging health concerns.
These trends carry numerous implications for the global food industry as this increasingly affluent demographic group becomes more inclined to seek out products that promote health and longevity, as well as helping them to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle past middle age. This trend has already been observed in sectors such as milk, yoghurt drinks, bottled water and ready meals, and seems set to shape other activities to an ever-increasing extent over the coming years.

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Hindu, Old Style!

As a freelance journalist, I know the pitfalls of writing for ‘respected’ Indian media groups. Many of the ‘family-run' organizations are unprofessional and have more ‘red tape’ than even the Indian government. 
Over the past one year, I wrote 7 articles for a newspaper that I used to work for in India, five of them on being commissioned. 
Frustrated at their sloppiness, and after losing my cool, I wrote to the Accounts Head: 
Dear Mr. ***,It has been months since I sent all the details that you required, and many more since my articles were published in The Hindu Business Line.
I never expected so much red tape in an organization like The Hindu, where I worked for nine years, earlier in my career.
In addition to the aforementioned articles in the supplement on Korea (,,,,, I had also written two op-ed pieces last year, and have not heard anything about payment for the same.
Please inform your editor that all the payments due to me can be DONATED to a charitable organization of his choice (either orphanages or old-age homes: NOT Temples), whenever the paperwork is done.
As an aside, maybe this unnecessary delayed payment could be one reason that international freelance journalists are wary of writing for The Hindu Business Line.
Have a nice day.

One month later, I got a reply, asking for more documents (which I had already submitted).
Mr. ** said they would send me a cheque (check) soon. 

In this day and age who sends checks for international payments? 

A bank wire transfer is more efficient. I replied on the same lines. 

He promised to do a wire transfer. 

Yesterday, I received a DHL package…. a 'peanuts' cheque. 

How daft are they?

My experience with non-family organizations like Business Standard (more professional) has been better. I receive payment for op-ed pieces in a fortnight. On the dot.
I also write for International magazines/journals, and the payments reach my bank in less than a week!

No way am I writing again for this family-run Indian media house…Not that they are asking me to !

PS: I have not cashed the check, and will donate it to a suitable organization (Rs 30,000+).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

India's Second Partition

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Historic City: Ganghwa Island

Ganghwa Island, incorporated into Incheon metropolitan city from Gyeonggi province in 1995, has been recognized and preserved for it’s important role in Korea’s history, from the prehistoric age to modern times.
Ganghwa is an island in the estuary of the Han River, on the west coast of South Korea. Ganghwa Island is separated from Gimpo, on the mainland, by a narrow channel, which is spanned by two bridges. The main channel of the Han River separates the island from Gaeseong in North Korea.
About 65,500 people live on the island. With an area of 302.4 km2 (116.8 sq mi), it constitutes most of Ganghwa County, a division of Incheon Municipality. About half of the island's population resides in Ganghwa-eup, Ganghwa Town, in the northeastern part of the island.
The island's highest point is Mani-san, 469 m (1,539 ft) above sea level. The island measures 28 kilometers (17 mi) long and 22 kilometers (14 mi) wide, and is the 4th largest island in South Korea.
The major stage of Ganghwa’s history came around the late period of Koryo dynasty. During the national conflict against Mongolian's invasion, the capital was transferred to Ganghwa from Gaeseong for the period of 1232 and 1270.  Ganghwa was deemed a most appropriate refuge to keep themselves safely from the invasion of Mongolian forces. The world famous treasure Palman daejanggyeong, 80,000 sheets of Buddah's scriptures could possibly have been engraved during the invasion.
 The importance of Ganghwa as a refuge shelter had been successively chosen during Chosun dynasty; two incidents Manchurian invasion, Jeongmyo-horan, in 1627 and Byeongja horan 1636 forced King Injo to take refuge in the island, taking advantage of the natural strategic environment to defend themselves from the enemy attack. Thereafter, Ganghwa had accordingly installed many military facilities to meet the pre-requisite of defending capital; castles, military bases, forts, outposts, batteries and beacon fire mounds etc.
In the later period of the Chosun dynasty, a few incidents of the western power's invasion and Japan made the it the most important military base to have the capital fully defended. Historically, it is significant as being the location of separate punitive incursions; by the French in 1866, the United States in 1871, and the Japanese in 1875 when Korea was emerging from isolation.
Many relics and remains of prehistoric age, Old Stone Age and New Stone Age have been found of their various vestiges in Jangjeongni, Sagiri, Dongmagni. Symbolic huge stone relics of Bronze Age, more than 80 dolmens, were discovered in the vicinity of Bugeunni and neighboring area, of which giant tombs revealed the existence of inhabitants there.
Dangun, the founder of Gojoseon, is said to have made an altar on top of Mani-san and offered sacrifices to his ancestors. His three sons built a legendary Samnangseong castle and relics of Bongcheondae, Bonggaji, Bongeunsa temple, Stone Buddah statue relating to the tales of Bong's family apparently signify the Ganghwa a holy land of Korea and the peoples throughout it's history.
About 70% of Ganghwa's citizens are engaged in farming, mainly rice. Fishery and forestry are other occupations practiced.  Hwamunseok is a well-known traditional fancy matting. Since the Goryeo dynasty (10th -14th centuries), hwamunseok has been produced and exported to China and Japan. The mats are produced in the home handicraft industry.
The Ganghwa turnip is a specialty of the area. It has been cultivated since the 5th century. This is recorded in the 17th -century Dongui Bogam book of oriental medicine.
Check out more information at http://

IP Rights and Food Industry

Any Agro-Food company that invests in some form of creative or intellectual output, whether it be in R&D, manufacturing, product formulation, packaging, marketing, media, or sales and distribution needs to be aware of Intellectual Property Rights.
Intellectual property pertains to any original creation of the human intellect such as artistic, literary, technical, or scientific creation. Intellectual property rights (IPR) refer to the legal rights given to the inventor or creator to protect his/her invention or creation for a certain period of time.
It is very well settled that IP play a vital role in the modern economy. It has also been conclusively established that the intellectual labor associated with the innovation should be given due importance so that public good emanates from it. There has been a quantum jump in R&D costs with an associated jump in investments required for putting a new technology in the market place. The stakes of the developers of technology have become very high, and hence, the need to protect the knowledge from unlawful use has become expedient, at least for a period, that would ensure recovery of the R&D and other associated costs and adequate profits for continuous investments in R&D.
IPR is a strong tool, to protect investments, time, money, effort invested by the inventor/creator of an IP, since it grants the inventor/creator an exclusive right for a certain period of time for use of his invention/creation. Thus IPR, in this way aids the economic development of a country by promoting healthy competition and encouraging industrial development and economic growth.
As noted by the World Trade Organization (WTO), intellectual property rights are customarily divided into two main areas:
1. Copyright and rights related to copyright
The rights of authors of literary and artistic works (such as books and other writings, musical compositions, paintings, sculpture, computer programs and films) are protected by copyright, for a minimum period of 50 years after the death of the author.
Also protected through copyright and related (sometimes referred to as “neighboring”) rights are the rights of performers (e.g. actors, singers and musicians), producers of phonograms (sound recordings) and broadcasting organizations. The main social purpose of protection of copyright and related rights is to encourage and reward creative work.
2. Industrial property
Industrial property can usefully be divided into two main areas:
One area can be characterized as the protection of distinctive signs, in particular trademarks and geographical indications.
The protection of such distinctive signs aims to stimulate and ensure fair competition and to protect consumers, by enabling them to make informed choices between various goods and services. The protection may last indefinitely, provided the sign in question continues to be distinctive.
Other types of industrial property are protected primarily to stimulate innovation, design and the creation of technology. In this category fall inventions (protected by patents), industrial designs and trade secrets.
The social purpose is to provide protection for the results of investment in the development of new technology, thus giving the incentive and means to finance research and development activities.
A functioning intellectual property regime should also facilitate the transfer of technology in the form of foreign direct investment, joint ventures and licensing.
Each form of IPRs has different requirements and grants different rights. Before the whole range of possibilities offered by modern technologies in the agricultural sector was available, inventions based on living organisms were considered natural phenomena, i.e. discoveries, and were thus not patentable. However, developments in modern biotechnology require substantial levels of investment in research and development, and its processes and products can be easily copied. The IPRs system provides a way of ensuring the financial revenues required to make the technology profitable.
In what follows we take a look at the various IP rights that are available to agro-food companies.
In a legal terminology a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which can be a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.  A patent provides protection for the invention to the owner of the patent. The owner can be an individual, or a group of people or organization. In order to be patentable, the invention must fulfill certain conditions as specified in the Patent Act.
Patent protection means that the invention cannot be commercially made, used, distributed or sold without the patent owner's consent. These patent rights are usually enforced in a court, which, in most systems, holds the authority to stop patent infringement.
A patent owner has the right to decide who may – or may not – use the patented invention for the period in which the invention is protected. Under TRIPS agreement of WTO, the protection is granted for a limited period, generally 20 years. The patent owner may give permission to, or license other parties to use the invention on mutually agreed terms. The owner may also sell the right to the invention to someone else, who will then become the new owner of the patent. Conversely, a court can also declare a patent invalid upon a successful challenge by a third party.
Once a patent expires, the protection ends, and an invention enters the public domain. The owner then no longer holds exclusive rights to the invention. It becomes available to commercial exploitation by others.
All patent owners are under obligation to publicly disclose information on their invention in order to enrich the total body of technical knowledge in the world. Such an ever-increasing body of public knowledge promotes further creativity and innovation. In this way, patents provide not only protection for the owner but valuable information and inspiration for future generations of researchers and inventors.
The agro-food industry is currently experiencing rapid technical advances, which are set to continue with the growing interest in, for example, functional foods; and, in view of the increasing crossover that exists with pharmaceutical chemistry and biotechnology, patents are now highly relevant. A patent may provide protection for a novel microorganism, plant or animal that has been genetically modified to produce a particular food ingredient or additive.
It may also protect a new synthetic process, a molecule produced by that process, or the use of that molecule to produce a particular effect, for example, a flavor, aroma, texture or stability. It is also possible to patent a new and improved composition, or a method or apparatus for making or testing a composition. With shelf life, nutrition and health becoming increasingly important to today’s consumer, machines, techniques and processes for testing or monitoring food quality may all provide patentable subject matter.
Robots or other machines used for performing tasks, such as packaging of food products, and different types of packaging are also candidates for patent protection.
A patent is commonly described as a “monopoly right”, meaning that it gives its owner the right to prevent everyone, other than people authorized by the owner, to use, produce, sell, import or keep anything that falls under the protection of the patent.
A patent is an item of personal property and, like any other property; it can be bought, sold or licensed. Patents have a lifespan of 20 years from the filing date of the application (subject to the payment of annual fees), and have a territorial effect.
To simplify the patenting in many countries WIPO administers Patent Cooperation Treaty. The WIPO-administered Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) provides for the filing of a single international patent application, which has the same effect as national applications filed in the designated countries. An applicant seeking protection may file one application and request protection in as many signatory states as needed.
Any resident or national of a Contracting State of the PCT may file an international application under the PCT. A single international patent application has the same effect as national applications filed in each designated Contracting State of the PCT. However, under the PCT system, in order to obtain patent protection in the designated States, a patent shall be granted by each designated State to the claimed invention contained in the international application.
Procedural and substantive requirements for the grant of patents as well as the amount of fees required are different from one country/region to the other. It is therefore recommended to consult any practicing techno-legal professional who is specialized in intellectual property or the intellectual property offices of those countries in which one is are interested to get protection.
Searchable Internet patent databases have significantly facilitated the access to patent information. However, given the complexity of patent documents and the technical and legal skills required, it is advisable to contact a professional patent attorney. Please note Patent is a techno-legal exercise and not just legal drafting.
A trademark is basically a sign that is used to distinguish the goods or services offered by one undertaking from those offered by another. A trademark is a word, a logo, a number, a letter, a slogan, a sound, a color, or sometimes even a smell, which identifies the source of goods and/or services with which the trademark is used.
Its purpose is to protect the name of the product rather than the invention or idea behind the product. Trademarks can be owned by individuals or companies and should be registered with a governmental agency, which is usually referred to as the Trademarks Office.
Generally speaking, trademarks should be distinctive and should neither be generic nor merely descriptive of the goods or services they represent. For example, the word "vegetable" cannot be registered as a trademark of a supermarket, since it is certainly descriptive of items, which a supermarket sells. In addition, it cannot be registered as a trademark for carrots, since it is a generic term for carrots. On the other hand, the word "vegetable" might well serve as a trademark for bicycles since it has little or nothing to do with bicycles.
 Trademarks should preferably not be geographical or primarily a surname. Thus, "Paris" cannot serve as a trademark for perfume. In many countries, trademarks, which comprise mere letters and/or numbers or are surnames, are considered to be indistinct.
In some instances, trademark registration can still be obtained for trademarks that are merely (i) descriptive, (ii) a surname, (iii) geographic or (iv) indistinct.
Trademarks, also known as brand names, are part of everyday life. Trademarks usually ensure a consistent level of quality - be it good or bad. A mark helps you to use your experience either to return to a desirable product or service or to avoid an undesirable one.
The symbol should be used to represent a registered trademark, whereas the symbol “TM” should be used where the trademark is not registered.
Trademarks can be important marketing tools for your business and, unlike patents; a trademark can last forever. They also have territorial rights. As with patents, international treaties and laws are in place to make it easier for a trademark owner to register a trademark in several countries simultaneously. By filing a trademark application via the Madrid System, an international trademark can be obtained in those member states.
A trademark is registered only in connection with specific categories of goods and services. This has the interesting consequence that it can enable different companies to use very similar or identical trade names or marks, provided that the respective goods or services of each company are sufficiently different to avoid confusion. But, a valid trademark gives its owner the legal right to prevent others from using a similar mark in connection with the same or similar goods. In other words, it allows the trademark owner to prevent competitors from using marks that imitate or could be confused with an existing trademark.
Geographical Indications
The term “geographical indication” has been chosen by WIPO to describe the subject matter of a new treaty for the international protection of names and symbols, which indicate a certain geographical origin of a given product.
A geographical indication tells consumers that a product is produced in a certain place and has certain characteristics that are due to that place of production. All producers who make their products in the place designated by a geographical indication and whose products share typical qualities may use it.
It embraces all existing means of protection of such names and symbols, regardless of whether they indicate the qualities of a given product due to its geographical origin (such as appellations of origin), or they merely indicate the place of origin of a product.
This definition also covers symbols, because geographical indications are not only constituted by names, such as the name of a town, a region or a country, but may also consist of symbols. Such symbols may be capable of indicating the origin of goods without literally naming its place of origin.
The commercial significance of this relatively new term can be assessed by the fact that Geographical Indications are integral part of national, regional and international trade negotiations.
When considering geographical indications as a special kind of distinctive sign used in commerce and thus as a particular category of intellectual property, it is important to distinguish them from trademarks: a geographical indication identifies a geographical area in which one or several enterprises are located which produce the kind of product for which the geographical indication is used. Thus, there is no “owner” of a geographical indication in the sense that one person or enterprise can exclude other persons or enterprises from the use of a geographical indication, but each and every enterprise which is located in the area to which the geographical indication refers to has the right to use the said indication for the products originating in the said area, but possibly subject to compliance with certain quality requirements as prescribed.
It might well be that a geographical name is regarded in one country as a geographical indication and is protected accordingly, whereas it is considered to be a generic or semi-generic term in another country. Notorious examples for such diverging treatment of geographical names are the French names “Champagne” and “Chablis” which, in France, are only allowed to be used for products originating from a certain geographical area and produced according to certain quality standards, whereas, in the United States of America for example, they are regarded as being semi-generic names, and therefore may be also used for wines not originating from the particular area of production in France. Geographical indications are protected in accordance with national laws and under a wide range of concepts, such as laws against unfair competition, consumer protection laws, laws for the protection of certification marks or special laws for the protection of geographical indications or appellations of origin.
A number of treaties administered by the WIPO provide for the protection of geographical indications, most notably being the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property of 1883, and the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and Their International Registration. In addition, Articles 22 to 24 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) deal with the international protection of geographical indications within the framework of the WTO.
Trade Secrets
Trade secrets encompass manufacturing, industrial secrets and/or commercial secrets. The unauthorized use of such information by persons other than the holder is regarded as an unfair practice and a violation of the trade secret. Depending on the legal system, the protection of trade secrets forms part of the general concept of protection against unfair competition or is based on specific provisions or case law on the protection of confidential information.
The subject matter of trade secrets is usually defined in general and broad terms and includes recipes, formulations, sales methods, distribution methods, consumer profiles, advertising strategies, lists of suppliers and clients, and manufacturing processes. While a final determination of what information constitutes a trade secret will depend on the circumstances of each individual case, clearly unfair practices in respect of secret information include industrial or commercial espionage, breach of contract and breach of confidence.
Contrary to patents, trade secrets are protected without registration. For these reasons, the protection of trade secrets may appear to be particularly attractive for food industry. There are, however, some conditions for the information to be considered a trade secret. WTO agreement on TRIPS also recognizes the concept of trade secret. Compliance with such conditions may turn out to be more difficult and costly than it would appear at first glance. While these conditions vary from country to country, some general standards exist which are referred to in Art. 39 of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement):
The information must be secret (i.e. it is not generally known among, or readily accessible to, circles that normally deal with the kind of information in question).
It must have commercial value because it is a secret.
It must have been subject to reasonable steps by the rightful holder of the information to keep it secret (e.g., through confidentiality agreements).
Trade secrets are widely used by food industry including multinationals. In fact, many food companies rely almost exclusively on trade secrets for the protection of their IP (although in many cases they may not even be aware that trade secrets are legally protected). It is important, therefore, to make sure that food enterprises take all necessary measures to protect their trade secrets effectively.
Trade secret protection does not require compliance with formalities such as disclosure of the information to a Government authority.
There are, however, some concrete disadvantages of protecting confidential business information as a trade secret, especially when the information meets the criteria for patentability:
If the secret is embodied in an innovative product, others may be able to inspect it, dissect and analyze it and discover the secret and be thereafter entitled to use it. Trade secret protection of an invention in fact does not provide the exclusive right to exclude third parties from making commercial use of it. Only patents and utility models can provide this type of protection.
The level of protection granted to trade secrets varies significantly from country to country, but is generally considered weak, particularly when compared with the protection granted by a patent.
Registered Designs
Registered designs protect the physical appearance of an article (or part of an article), such as its shape, configuration, pattern or ornamentation, including features of lines, contours, colors, texture or material. To register, a design must be “new”, which means it must not be the same as any known design; and have “individual character”, which essentially means that it gives a different overall impression to any previously known design.
It is possible to register a design in connection with almost any “article”, whether it is mass-produced in industry, or a unique handicraft object. In the agro-food industry, a registered design may be used to cover a new type of packaging or the features of an electrical apparatus.
Since a registered design can cover the whole or part of an object, a complicated item may be protected by many different designs. Interestingly, a registered design may even protect the appearance of a food item, for example, the shape of a teabag.
Registered designs provide similar rights to those of patents, in the sense that they can be enforced to stop unauthorized persons from using, making, selling or importing a product having an infringing design, for a maximum term of 25 years. As with other forms of IP rights, it is possible to obtain registered design rights internationally.
Copyright relates to the expression of an idea, rather than to the idea itself. Thus, it applies to original literary, artistic or graphical works, including software programs. A copyrighted work cannot be copied, without the consent of the owner, for the term of the copyright, which, in most cases, is the life of the author (or creator) plus 70 years. The best way to indicate that a work is protected under copyright law is to display the symbol along with the name of the copyright owner and the year of the work.
Copyright is particularly relevant to the design, imagery and labeling of packaging, and also applies to two-dimensional design drawings, such as plans, for example, for new packaging or machinery.
In the global marketplace, agro-food companies need to look to protect their IP abroad, as well as in their country of origin. Most IP systems work internationally and so it is generally straightforward to secure protection in key foreign markets. IP is becoming rapidly more important in agro-food industry and you ignore it at your peril.
It is generally believed that in the field of agriculture, intellectual property regime will spur activity among the scientists and farmers to facilitate new knowledge that will lead to innovations. Such innovations will save countries from relying on “climate fed” agriculture and pave way to intelligently driven agricultural practices. Releasing agro-based population will expand other areas of the economy such as the tourism industry, the retail industry and other technologically oriented industries. This can also make countries to effectively join the value added biotech industry and save their populations from malnutrition and hunger. Moreover it will also attract more investment and exchange of goods from other countries.
Ago-food companies can benefit from the wealth of technological and commercial information available in patent and trademark databases to learn about recent technological breakthroughs, identify future partners, and find out about the innovative activities of competitors.
Finally, managing IP effectively and using it to devise business strategies is an increasingly critical task for entrepreneurs worldwide.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Conservative Korean Ass****s

My wife (a Korean) is very popular online...she writes on stuff that conservative 'old' guys cannot stand. Mostly about women's sexual freedom, free spiritual calling...etc.
However, of late, she has been facing attacks for her free opinions. Korean guys (not just in Korea but also in US, Europe  and Canada) have been hurling all kinds of allegations and rumors at her, hoping that some will stick. Unfortunately, given the world we are living in ....some allegations do stick...without any basis or proof.
So much so, that her mental state is getting scrambled!
I am fully supportive and understand her state of mind. The right-wing conservative ass***s want full control...

I came across this piece on slate which reminded me of her situation:

Why do MEN have to attack women just because they are becoming popular online? Hiding their own insecurities? Especially, if you have small d***s?  I believe so.

Many of the so called intellectuals who have a fine degree from top-notch universities in Seoul think that they can get away with murder (of the character). They are so intoxicated with their false power  that they do not realize that South  Korea has become a democracy! It is no longer Park Chung-hee who decides the people that can live and die.
Article 21(1) of the Korean Constitution notes that ``All citizens shall enjoy the freedom of speech and the press and the freedom of assembly and association."On the face of it this article is similar to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which states that ``Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble …"However, the Korean Constitution modifies this seemingly absolute protection, by noting, in Article 21(4) that ``Neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons nor undermine public morals or social ethics."


Anyone who hurts my family will pay...legally!!!

A simple police compliant can land you in trouble. You could lose FACE and imprisonment!!
In Korea true & false statements are punishable criminally & civilly with defamation; any words harming another can be considered illegal and may be punishable with fines and imprisonment up to seven years.
"Defamation" is covered by several laws in Korea, civil law, traditional criminal law & modern internet criminal law-under the 'Act on Promotion of Information and Communications Network Utilization and Data Protection, etc.' (internet and email related laws) – 2005 CHAPTER IX Article 61 (Penal Provisions).
Korean defamation varies significantly from Western laws and in general by country and by case. As image and 'public face' are very important in East Asia, it is not difficult to sue for 'loss of face' (defamation) in Korea. Even middle school students are active with cases.
Any person who has defamed any other person by alleging openly facts through information and communications networks [anyone stating true comments by internet and email] with the purpose of slandering him shall be subject to imprisonment with or without prison labor for not more than 3 years or by a fine not exceeding 20 million won.
Any person who has defamed any other person by alleging openly false facts via information and communications networks [anyone stating false comments on the internet and email] with the purpose of slandering him/her shall be subject to imprisonment with prison labor for not more than 7 years or the suspension of disqualification for not more than 10 years, or by a fine not exceeding 50 million won [approximately US$50,000. In addition to this criminal law, in Korea you can also sue for damages with civil actions. Generally, criminal actions proceed civil ones with Korean police as judicial investigators.]

For Reference check :