The myth of globalisation – what then for global IP strategy?

Global strategy guru Pankaj Ghemawat is dead against the idea that we live in a globalised world. See his recent blog post and interview on Harvard‘s Ideacast.

So does that mean that we should stop thinking about IP Strategy globally?


As Ghemawat points out, the trend might be towards globalisation, but we’re a long way from it. One of his keypoints is that people tend to overestimate the extent to which the world is globalised today. He calls it ‘globaloney’.

Intellectual property strategy has withstood the worst of the ‘globalisation’ problems for the simple reason that the local law is different in each country (sometimes only subtley) – even within economic regions, such as the EU.

While the push towards harmonisation of intellectual property law continues around the world (notice for example ‘first to file’ for US patents came one step closer late last week), it seems quite incredible looking forward from today that there would ever be complete harmonisation of IP law across the world. A taste of the difficulties inherent in such an approach can be seen in Europe with the European Patent Litigation Agreement.

So, even if the world were to become ‘globalised’, there’s a pretty strong chance that intellectual property strategy, at least, would need to be executed in a jurisdiction by jurisdiction approach.

However, a global, coordinated strategy is still incredibly important to ensure consistency (eg. of arguments put in litigation, or approaches to parallel importers) and effectiveness (eg. minimising duplication, maximising results across countries, etc).

Do you think Pankaj is right?  How do you think this impacts on IP Strategy?

4 Comments on “The myth of globalisation – what then for global IP strategy?

  1. If taken generally, the “global economy” or “globalisation is still in its infancy. As mentioned in your Blog, there are some many different laws and rules according to certain regions (e.g. Europe) or countries that it would be an illusion to think  that one live in a globalised world. However, when one think about strategies such as business, marketing and in a certain extent  IP, then one can think Global. It is often, but not always, a question of company size, and major concerns for example  in the Automobile or Pharmaceutical industry, have to think Globally or as if belonging to a “globalised world” and include in their startegies some of the “Specialities” of said region or country. But the strategy as a whole is on a global scale in a globalised world.

  2. Hi JulienThanks for your comment and welcome.  I totally agree that in certain industries, you end up thinking ‘Global’ and tailoring the overall strategy to each country.  (I’ve written about this previously in the context of branding.)I think the approach you take really depends on your business strategy and whether it sensibly encompasses one country, a region, or a sizeable portion of the globe.  Only the latter requires a truly global strategy.  Take for example Dr Reddy’s – who continue to do a fantastic job in the generic pharmaceutical space (and who will no doubt do the same as an originator as their R&D pipeline comes to fruition).  They have traditionally heavily focussed on the USA and the opportunities afforded by the generic exclusivities available there (through Hatch-Waxman).  It is only relatively recently that they have been looking to develop truly global strategies.What do you think?

  3. Hello Ducan,Of course you’re right. I think the trend in IP strategy goes global. It depends of course of your product and what your company sees as a market. In the Pharmaceutical industry, especally with the strong competion due to the generic companies, it becomes essential to develop a global strategy, not only with regards to the potential “sales” territories like US or Europe, but also depending upon essential territories for fabrication or R&D.  The two latter points lead of course in taking into account countries such as China or India or region such as Asia. One must just look at Biotechnology companies such as Lonza which are heavily investing  in Asia to understand the importance of these Markets. What is also striking is that despite the difficulty of IP enforcement in these countries, more and more companies are ready to take the risk to enter this huge potential markets very earlyon  to take “the biggest possible slice of the cake”. Some have also been burned in the process. You wrote about it in your BlogChinese JVs – what not to

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