Court Rules against ‘GTA V’ Cheat Makers over Copyright Infringement

England and Wales Intellectual Property Enterprise Court has recently ruled against a pair of cheat developers in association with Epsilon (a former outfit related to GTA games) for infringing on the copyright by coding and selling the software.

The Grand Theft Auto (GTA) games are all about bad behavior for making money. Nevertheless, in the real world, their developer and publisher – Rockstar Games, Inc. and parent Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. – go hard on getting any hint about rules being broken, and thus, all the way to suing cheat app makers for Copyright Infringement.

The recent ruling is in relation to one such legal action that has gone well for the UK Company. It is a summary judgment meaning that the case would not go to trial.

Rockstar’s original Copyright Infringement Application for a summary judgment named five defendants, three of which have settled the case in the meantime. Rest two who chose to try their luck in court though affirmed their involvement with Epsilon, yet made efforts to invalidate the violation argument. They did so by saying that their team provided a disclaimer of liability to users of their cheat for the online gameplay GTA V. Nonetheless, the court said that this was a mere window-dressing.

In general, these cheats are known as the ‘mod menu’ and allow gamers to enjoy several advantages while playing. These sometimes unlock virtual in-game items and currency for which they would otherwise need to pay the real money.

Another thing the defendants said in their defense was that the Epsilon developed its software by forking the already existing code, which is available online. It means they downloaded the source code from a popular and well-known public cheating website. But, the court rejected this argument also and ruled in favor of Rockstar’s claim of violation of the contract against one defendant, dropping the charge against the other because he was a minor when the offense took place.

Although the case won’t go to the trial in association with the copyright charges, the issue related to legal cost may still require a trial. But Justice Falk, who signed the order, said that she hoped the parties would try to settle this matter. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Philippines Marks Higher Score in International Intellectual Property Index

With the implementation of new anti-counterfeiting and piracy measures, the Philippines has improved its score by around 4 percent in the United States Chamber of Commerce’s (USCC) 2020 International Intellectual Property Index.

Ranking 37th out of total 53 economies, the Philippines scored 39.94% in 2020 index in comparison to its 36% score in 2019. Reports showed that the key strength of the Philippines is in the IP framework that includes:

  • Amendments to the IP code to strengthen criminal sanctions
  • The fast-tracking procedure for Trademark Registration
  • Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) given in legislation
  • Incentives for research and development (R&D)
  • Growing specialization
  • Capacity Building.

On the other side, gaps in life sciences and content-related IPRs, online and software piracy, and barriers for licensing technology are reported as some of the weaknesses of the Philippines.

Abbreviated as IPOPHL, the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines said that considering three additional economies in the index, Philippine standing reached 70% to the top, from 74% in the previous year.

IPOPHL officer-in-charge, Director General Teodoro Pascua, said that they welcome the verdicts of USCC-GIPC (Global Innovation Policy Center). They are happy and thankful for its positive and careful observation of the progress of their nation’s IPRs environment, especially on enforcement entrenched in IPOPHL’s effort to protect creativity and innovation.

Considering the Philippine Online Infringing Act, the USCC-GIPC is expecting that the Philippines would score higher in the 2021’s report. Under this Act, IPOPHL will be allowed to order the cancellation of an internet service provider’s operating license if it fails to remove the infringing content within ten days of notification.

IPOPHL added that these kinds of positive steps would lead to an increase in scores on relevant indicators, which will then make the index to monitor the developments in 2020 and upcoming years.

Mr. Pascua then added that 2020 would be an interesting year for IPRs Enforcement Office (IEO) and IPOPHL’s enforcement team who will be ironing out enforcement suggestions and guidelines to keep up with modern business models. He also said that IEO had identified some critical players in the supply chain of false trade with whom they believe they should engage. They desire to motivate them to set up their mechanisms to prevent counterfeiters, including those who are contributing to counterfeit trade by utilizing their channels for criminal operations, Pascua ended.  For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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SaskTel Sent 30,000 Copyright Infringement Notices to Internet Customers

As it turns out that a lot of SaskTel customers are allegedly involved in internet piracy, the company, since January 2019, has sent out around 30,000 Copyright Infringement notifications to customers, who are accused of engaging in downloading or uploading copyrighted materials.

A spokesperson for SaskTel said that the number of notices the Crown tends to issue has remained steady in recent years. The spokesperson explained that receiving one of such notices doesn’t mean that the user is being sued by Hollywood studio. However, it can lead to a suit if the user continues with the activity causing infringement.

Although SaskTel doesn’t monitor the customers’ online activities, it is obligated under the Copyright Act of Canada to issue notices related to infringement on receiving communications from copyright owners.

Halifax-based lawyer David Fraser, who specializes in internet privacy and technology law, warned SaskTel customers by saying that they shouldn’t take the notices lightly. Mr. Fraser, during a recent telephonic interview, said that he would neither ignore it and nor laugh it off; rather, he would take it seriously. The lawyer continued and provided an example saying that if he were to receive a notice in his house or to discover that one of his kids was doing something like a violation, he would have a conversation with the kid as he wouldn’t want the thing to go further.

According to Mr. Fraser, copyright owners can track SaskTel users with the help of companies that possess the technology to detect the IP addresses that access copyrighted materials, like movies through peer-to-peer file-sharing software. Nonetheless, the copyright holders don’t get aware of the users’ names, and SaskTel wouldn’t provide that information to anyone unless a court orders it to do so.

Fraser then said that Hollywood studios have sued around thousands of individuals in Canada for piracy. While representing Canadian residents against whom the lawsuits for copyright infringement have been filed by the studios, Mr. Fraser revealed that these lawsuits often fall within the range of $5,000.

Companies usually provide individuals with several notices before deciding to sue them for copyright infringement. If you receive one or two notices, then there’re possibilities that you could be sued in case you continue doing the same thing as you were doing it before. Moreover, once you get sued, you will be sued again and again. You cannot ignore it, as if you do so, then the studio gets a default judgment against you, said Fraser.

A default judgment takes place when a defendant fails to respond to summons or unable to appear in court. SaskTel said it received one court application asking for information about copyright infringement, but the data wasn’t available because the Crown stores the information only for six months. Pirating copyrighted material is in infringement of the Crown agency’s Internet use policy.

According to this policy, customers should not upload, transmit, publish, or reproduce literary work, software, or other material, which is protected by any Intellectual Property (IP) right without obtaining the prior written permission of the copyright holder.

SaskTel, at last, said getting a copyright infringement notice doesn’t affect the customers’ internet access, but the continuation in piracy-related activities can result in the suspension of service. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Cypriot Cheese Producers Re-secure Trademark Protection for ‘Halloumi’

Cypriot farmers have recently won back the exclusive right to sell their cheese products as ‘Halloumi’ in the UK after re-securing the trademark it lost in 2018.

Participating on the part of these farmers, the Cypriot ministry first obtained Trademark Protection for ‘Halloumi’ from the UK Intellectual Property Office in 1990. However, in association with a legal challenge brought by the UK-based cheese producers, the trademark had been revoked in the year 2018. The verdict was a result of an administrative error as the Cypriot ministry failed to respond to the legal requests within the asked time frame. Nevertheless, now the ministry has secured the protection again.

According to a Patent and Trademark Attorney, this significant win for the Cypriot farmers means that they have regained an exclusive right to use the mark ‘Halloumi’ while selling their cheese product in the UK. Because of the growing market for this product in the UK, this is expected to prove profitable for them. However, the farmers are unlikely to limit themselves there. They have already filed a Trademark Application for achieving ‘protected food name’ status to the European Commission, and if successful, their application would bring permanent protection. But as it’s likely to take some time, trademark protection in the UK will be beneficial to them in the meantime.

The attorney said that the food and drink producers in the UK might not be aware that they are allowed to apply for ‘protected food name’ status to secure protection for products with unique characteristics that can be linked to a specific geographical location or specified product. The attorney continued that this Trademark Registration certification would affect those who are producing cheese products. It is so because they could not label the product as ‘Halloumi’ unless it meets the certification mark requirements. Hence, restaurants should take care of not to define something as ‘Halloumi’ wrongly.

The attorney further added that if there’s no food name protection in place, and the misuse isn’t spotted as soon as possible, the use of the name or product could become generic. As a consequence, it would lose its eligibility for protected status. For example – ‘Cheddar’ is a name that has now become generic, and thus, no longer capable of obtaining such protection.

The Protected Food Name scheme, which was established by the UK government in 1993, is helpful for producers who want to use a geographical place name as part of their product’s brand identity for preventing others from marketing their items under the same name.

Since a large number of products have achieved the ‘protected food name’ status, there is no reason why Halloumi producers should not look for the same. Still, the application by these producers has been affected by many delays. Nonetheless, now it has gained the approval, meaning that the producers have re-secured ‘Halloumi’ trademark protection in the UK. ✅ For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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What Can Impact Intellectual Property Trends in 2020?

Till now, when it’s around 20 days from the start of the year 2020, you hopefully be aware of statistics from 2019, no matter whether in association to Intellectual Property (IP), brand protection, or anti-counterfeiting. Nevertheless, besides gaining information about the past year, it is vital to consider some of the key IP and brand protection trends for 2020, and the new decade beyond.

In 2020, we undoubtedly expect to hear more about the US-China trade talks, and the European (EU) Copyright Directive. However, this is not all. We can come across many other trends and stories that would be significant for brands and how they secure themselves from IP infringement in this year.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

2020 is expected to be the phase when many companies move from experimenting with new tools and technologies to their broader implementation. The scope of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) looks to increase and affect the interactions brands used to have with consumers and counterfeiters.

It appears as if the sophistication of conversational AI interactions will enhance, resulting in improved communication between businesses and consumers. It further may improve buying patterns. On the other hand, ML will become more advanced in regards to image recognition, data clustering, and web scraping. It means that data monitoring and IP enforcement will benefit comparatively more from automation, allowing machines to fight the scams in addition to human expertise.

Blockchain

Blockchain and its operative use in anti-counterfeiting can be the other key area of growth in 2020. As technology is becoming cheaper day by day, the world would see it into the hands of many more businesses. Widespread adoption and embedding of blockchain-based smart contracts system will make the technology to execute a license for the use of original creator’s IP, scale automatic payment, and ensure that he/ she gets the correct compensation for his/ her unique work. Apart from assisting the users in making profits by earning more money and saving financial resources on getting agents to manage IP, blockchain technology would work even to prohibit content piracy, one of the common challenges creators often encounter. Indeed, 2020 and other upcoming years are expected to provide blockchain technology with advancements that would help you monetize your IP in several new ways.

Social Media Expansion: WeChat, TikTok, Etc.

For a long time, online platforms have dominated the talks about the availability and impacts of counterfeit and copied goods. As these platforms have been one of the easiest ways for consumers to shop, they have created spaces where fake sellers of infringed products or services could anonymize their identities. Previously, online platforms like social media sites, including Facebook, Twitter, etc., were a secondary option for counterfeiters and sellers of violated products. Nonetheless, with the introduction of additional social commerce-oriented extensions, they gained importance. Social media channels are remarkably difficult for Intellectual Property Law enforcement to target as communications on these channels are private. Moreover, there is no ID transparency rule, and accounts can be made using false information. All these facts make it important for the brands to enlist the support of an experienced IP Attorney. They can also partner with a specialized Intellectual Property Law Firm that can provide online monitoring and IP enforcement. This is what we expect to see more in 2020.

Another thing to watch in 2020 will be the increase in both the size and scope of spaces like WeChat, TikTok and more. As counterfeits and IP abuse, especially Copyright Infringement, is common on online sites and channels, brands need to be cautious about ‘how can they deal with such issues.’ Intellectual Property Law Firm in Maldives or any country appears to be the best helping hand to battle against the problems caused by counterfeiting and IP abuse in this advanced but malicious decade. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Federal Govt. Gives $100k Grant to Protect Australian Prosecco with GIs

Fighting to let Australian winemakers continue using the name Prosecco, the federal government has recently given a $100k grant to researchers at Monash University for exploring the legal basis to protect wines with Geographical Indications (GIs) in trade agreements.

Dan Tehan, the federal education minister, announced that with the grant for the Australian Research Council’s Linkage Projects, they want the university to provide recommendations on GI claims to the Australian government and industry bodies.

According to researchers at Monash University, Australia’s Prosecco exports, which worth $60 million annually, are prophesied to rise to around $500 million over the next decade. The research team includes Professor Moira Paterson, Professor Mark Davison, Dr. Caroline Henckels, and Dr. Lisa Spagnolo, from Monash University’s Faculty of Law.

A specialist in Intellectual Property Law (IP Law), Dr. Enrico Bonadio from the City University of London, has also participated as a member of the team. The legal specialists investigated the criteria, evidence, and procedure required to establish a GI of wine, as utilized in trade agreements and legal disputes.

However, the EU (European Union) wants wine producers to prohibit marketing wine labeled as Prosecco. It claimed that the term Prosecco is a GI for a sort of wine being locally made in northern Italy and isn’t considered as a grape variety.

Professor Davison said that if Prosecco is the name of a grape variety and isn’t a GI, the prohibition of its use in trademarks on Australian Prosecco would possibly contravene Article 2.1 of the Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement and Article 20 of the TRIPS Agreement. He added that they’re grateful to the Federal Government for the financial support to develop a legal framework and associated guidelines to defend GIs for wines, and to aid the Australian wine manufacturing industry in dealing with Geographical Indication Infringement claims and Geographical Indication Registration issues.

Since the early 2000s, Prosecco has been produced in Australia and used worldwide as a grape variety until 2009. But then in the same year, it was recognized as a GI under Italian Geographical Indication Law through the creation of a Denominazione di Origine Controllata across the Veneto and Friuli regions.

Later in the year 2013, the European Commission attempted to register Prosecco as a Geographical Indication in Australia but failed after the Winemakers’ Federation of Australia successfully argued that it was the name of a grape variety. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Sonos Enters Patent Infringement Dispute Against Google Over Smart Speaker Tech

Smart speaker maker Sonos Inc. has recently filed a lawsuit against Google, claiming that the search giant has copied its patented home speaker technology.

California-based Sonos is in the business of making high-end home sound systems that users can control with their voice. Although the firm is famous for its quality indoor speakers, it also makes the related accessories, like amplifiers.

Through the Patent Infringement suits filed in the Log Angeles Federal District Court and with the U.S. International Trade Commission, the company is looking for financial damages and a sales ban on Google’s speakers, smartphones, and laptops, in the US market.

Sonos claimed that the features in the Google Home smart speakers infringed upon five of its patents, including technologies that enable their speakers to communicate and synchronize with each other wirelessly. The company further claimed that the scope of Intellectual Property (IP) infringement could be much bigger, potentially beyond the search giant.

Sonos, in a statement, said that Google had been blatantly and knowingly copying its patented technology in creating and selling the audio products under the search giant’s name. It then added that despite the repeated and extensive efforts made by its team over the last few years, Google hadn’t shown any willingness to work with it on a mutually beneficial solution.

Executives at Sonos told the New York Times that they provided Google with a list of around 100 patents found to be used unlawfully. They further told that Amazon’s Echo smart speakers are also believed to be violating a similar number of patents. Nevertheless, the company opted to limit the litigation to the lawsuit it is pursuing against Google because battling against both the tech giants at once would be a risk.

Both Google and Amazon, on their part, have strongly pushed back the Sonos’ accusations. Google said that they are disappointed with Sonos’ move where the smart speaker maker brought these lawsuits rather than continuing negotiations in good faith and that they would battle against these claims and defend them vigorously. On the other side, Amazon’s spokesperson said that the Echo family devices and their multi-room music technology were developed independently by Amazon.

It is predicted that the recently launched lawsuit against Google will only complicate Sonos’ tense partnership with the search giant and Amazon. Besides, in the big picture, the lawsuit may add fuel to the upsurging pressure tech giants are having from competitors. Sonos revealed that after it started asking for patent licensing feeds, Google added new technical caveats to their partnership. However, Congressional staff members discussed having Sonos Chief Executive Officer – Patrick Spence – testify on the matter before the House antitrust subcommittee. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Apple Signs Multi-year License Agreement for Imagination’s Intellectual Property

UK chip designer Imagination Technologies Group has recently revealed that it’s struck a new license agreement with Apple Inc., an American Multinational Technology Company, reviewing a business relationship that had all but ended in recent years.

The company that was sold for 500 million pounds to Chinese buyout firm – Canyon Bridge Capital Partners – in September 2017, said that it formed a new multi-year license agreement in which Apple, the iPhone maker has access to a wide range of Imagination’s Intellectual Property (IP) in exchange for license fees.

In the beginning, Apple tended to use either graphics chips or GPUs (Graphics Processing Units) in its iPhones and iPads that were designed by using IPs of Imagination Technologies. However, later it moved to its own internal chip designs starting with iPhone X in 2017 and the iPad Pro in 2018. Besides these models, the US Company used its own graphics processors in Apple watches as well. Then in 2017, the company told Imagination Technologies that it would stop using their IP in new products within a small period of two years.

When it comes to Imagination Technologies, then a public company, proclaimed the loss of Apple as its biggest customer, its stock plummeted. The British company in 2018 said that there could be ‘material uncertainty’ regarding its future if Apple doesn’t pay royalties on the largest generation of iPhones and iPads.

As per several reports observed till now, it is unclear whether or not Apple has paid the fees to Imagination Technologies. However, the British company argued that it would be very challenging for Apple to design GPUs in a way that enables the American company not to pay royalties to Imagination Technologies.

If we talk about Apple, the iPhone maker often uses a combination of supplier deals and acquisitions for building up its portfolio of patents and designs. For instance, last year also, it acquired Intel Corporation’s modem unit to design cellular chips for its future devices.

Although none of the two companies specified which IP the new agreement covers, it may possibly be related to either Artificial Intelligence (AI) or graphics, two main IPs of Imagination Technologies.

Though the IP covered in the latest agreement between the two companies has not been disclosed so far, yet it is expected that the Imagination’s IPs, which are associated with AI and graphics, could be a key to the future Apple devices. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its Implications on Patents

Artificial Intelligence (AI), in the past few years, has seen a profound increase in its media coverage and attention. It is due to the continuous improvements in its capabilities that has nourished its adaptation into various areas. Today, AI has found its applications in many fields, like small to large businesses, automotive industry, healthcare centers, etc.

AI is a technology that focuses on the creation of intelligent machines, which react and work like humans. One of the common activities for which AI-based computers are designed is speech recognition. Some basic technologies that include AI are as follows:

Boolean Search

These refer to algorithms that implement a sort of search, which enables the users to produce relevant results by combining keywords with operators like AND, OR, and NOT.

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

NLP emphasizes AI algorithms that enable computers to comprehend and process human languages.

Natural Language Search (NLS)

NLS comprises AI algorithms that carry out searches by identifying content matching a topic described by the user in plain language.

Machine Learning (ML)

Machine learning refers to a data analysis method that automates the building of the analytical model. With the concept of using algorithms that learn from data, ML allows computers/machines to find out the hidden insights even without being programmed – where to look.

AI Implications on Patents and Intellectual Property

With AI-based machines appearing to have surpassed human performance in many fields such as medicine, automotive, and others, it is expected that the future for AI would impact the ways humans beings work and perform. These predictions led to several debates such as ‘can AI surpass human capabilities,’ ‘is it the best tool used to aid humanity in work,’ etc. Apart from these questions, the implications for the emergence and rise of AI on Intellectual Property (IP) and especially Patents are also subject to debate.

With the advent and advanced functionality of AI in a wide range of fields, this technology may probably be on its way towards creating remarkable tools, approaches, and applications. For instance, the Neural Machine Translation System of Google, at the end of the year 2016, was found to have developed its internal language that represents the notions it uses to translate different languages. Not only this, there are a lot of other examples that showcase the consistent advancements in AI technology. Well, this is only the beginning, because as evidence suggests – AI technology may one day perform with its independent mind and intelligence. All these facts also suggest that AI, due to being the creation of the mind, has major implications for Patents and IP.

IP refers to unique and useful creations of the mind. It is a category of property that comprises intangible creations of human intellect. Additionally, when it comes to patent, this is a type of IP that provides its owner with the legal right to prohibit others from stealing and misusing his/her invention for limited years. But, with this definition that defines IP as a creation of the mind, the term ‘mind’ is left for debate – whether a robot or a human mind. Still, AI can create inventions that should be protected by filing Patent Registration Application. In other words, though the word ‘mind’ is in question, yet AI can create potentially patentable inventions. Hence, keeping this thing in mind, the human beings who so ever create AI technology-based inventions should logically own the patent rights over the same. The owner of AI-related inventions must obtain robust Patent Registration Protection as soon as he/she could. It is recommended because AI is the latest and continuously advancing technology, and therefore, the inventions based on this are highly vulnerable to be stolen, copied, or imported by unauthorized users. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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Baidu Files Patent Application for ML-based Audio Synthesis Ownership

By catching the attention and likes of Tencent and Huawei, Baidu has topped as the leading artificial intelligence (AI) Patent Application leader. Apart from this, Baidu (with 1,237 patent applications) is also leading in the highly competitive area of intelligent driving, as many reports stated.

Victor Liang, Vice President & General Counsel Executive Assistant to CEO at Baidu, said that they retained the top position for AI-related patent applications in China because of their:

  • Constant investment and research in developing AI
  • Strategic focus on patents

After years of research and development, Baidu has now developed a comprehensive AI ecosystem, and therefore, is at the leading spot of the AI industry worldwide.

Patents focused and filed by Baidu encompass a wide range of domains, including:

  • Deep learning (1,429 patents)
  • Speech recognition (933 patents)
  • NLP – Natural Language Processing (938 patents)

While Baidu acquired top position in China, its R&D center located in the US had filed patent applications in the US patent office also.

In this patent US20190355347A1, which is for a computer-implemented method to train a neural network model for spectrogram inversion with the title – Spectrogram to waveform synthesis using convolutional networks, Baidu lists the following points:

  • Inputting an input spectrogram, including many frequency channels into a CNN (convolution neural network).
  • Outputting a synthesized waveform from CNN for the input spectrogram, which has a corresponding ground truth waveform.
  • Using the synthesized waveform, the corresponding ground truth waveform, and the loss function, consisting of at least one or more loss components opted from convergence loss spectral.
  • Using the loss to update the CNN.
  • A clear mention of using the CNNs (convolutional neural networks).

As CNN is the lifeblood of several contemporary ML-based applications, any claim, even on a small part, can create damages in the long run.

The current year has witnessed a sudden and rapid growth of interest in owning algorithms and deep learning. So, even if the plans are to protect the researches from falling prey to pseudo players, this trial appears as a slippery slope where owners of big businesses can leverage the smaller companies that are using advanced technology.

In Baidu’s case, too, there lie risks of losing ownership to various audio processing applications. Contributed to the increasing fear among the ML community, Baidu is a Chinese company. The Artificial Intelligence (AI) vision of this company was fortified with projects such as Apollo, which is an open-source independent driving platform together with many other intelligent driving innovations.

China has allegedly been found involved in Intellectual Property (IP) thefts, especially from US companies. Hence, when Baidu’s foreign division files a patent application, one cannot assist but think about the consequences of handing the ownership to China that continued to be the world’s leading source of fake goods, exhibiting its failure to take crucial action to restrain the widespread manufacture, sale, and export of bogus goods. For more visit: https://www.trademarkmaldives.com

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