The future of IP?

What would you say if asked about the future of IP?

Some of my thoughts will appear in interviews in IP publications in the next month or so.

Here are some of my thoughts as collected for CPA Global’s annual ‘State of the IP Industry’ survey and review.

What do you think?

It seems to me that there’s a growing battle over the place of IP in the world at large. Just look, for example, at the increasing amount of negative rhetoric about IP, such as ‘patents kill’ (by excluding access to the innovations that they protect), or the growing lobby for digital content to be free. It’s a groundswell that is supported by the purchasing public and so is putting an unprecedented amount of pressure on companies to explain why we even need IP and to open themselves up to debate. Being able to justify why and what you’re doing takes corporate IP strategy to a new level. The world has moved on a long way from issues of just filing and enforcing patents and trademarks, but lots of IP managers are still stuck in the past. The key is to develop a strategy for managing IP in this new world, and that means being able to prove that your approach adds value to the business, whatever you choose to do.

Already, there is increasing sophistication around the business of using IP: the elastic band is being stretched as new forms of innovation emerge and the number of business models increases as people think of new ways to exploit IP Rights. A big proportion of that is tied to the growth of the web: the internet tends to speed up, commoditise and democratise production and supply. The classic example of this is the internet telephone provider Skype. It wasn’t that long ago that it would have been deemed impossible, science fiction even, to be able to call around the world for free – and certainly not video call. Now this trend is set to continue. Services that today are bespoke, and therefore expensive, will become cheaper and more accessible during the next decade.

We also expect to see an increased commoditisation of IP services: here again, the internet and technology have functioned as democratising forces. We’ll see more work brought in-house and managed via software, which means that external counsel will need to be better at demonstrating the value of what they do.

Companies also need to consider the rise and rise of China and India and Brazil. There are all sorts of implications tipping the balance about who owns most of the world’s IP and what that means for international commerce, but how many companies have altered their strategies to cope as these markets emerge and go online?

But I didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know – right?  It’s those who execute on this stuff that succeed.

[Photo credit: katerha]

One Comment on “The future of IP?

  1. As you point out, modern technology has led to a trend toward democratization of IP and other resources. This paradigm shift has caused a shift in the attitudes of consumers and others, in regard to patent law.  Consequently, corporate entities and attorneys are being forced increasingly to consider not only profit, but also the public good, in their IP strategies. Therefore I predict that progressive measures such as compulsory licensing and patent pools will become much more common, if not the norm, in health-related areas. Also, IP asset holders may work together and aggregate their assets much more often, not only to comply with new legal requirements, but also to protect their own rights (against NPEs, etc.).

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