Thursday, 25 May 2017

Never mind the mainstream: it's all about collaboration and communication

Following up on the IP Strategy Forum 2017, presented by a team of experts last month under the auspices of Managing IP magazine and some illustrious sponsors, Aistemos CEO Nigel Swycher summarised the two most important things he came away with:
First, ... IP is no longer a specialist topic, but is now a mainstream topic involving finance, marketing, tax, M&A, licensing etc. Secondly, ... the answers to difficult questions such as how to manage risk and how to create value are to be found in collaboration across sectors, and multi-disciplinary teams.
Communication is easy if everyone's the same,
but the IP ecosystem is not so homogeneous ...
Before getting excited about the notion that IP is no longer a specialist topic, it's worth stopping to think.  In one sense this observation is perfectly accurate: we are all acutely concerned with IP now, whether we are creating our own and commercialising it or merely seeking to dodge the bullets fired by competitors and others whose rights may traverse our own industrial activities.  However, in another sense, IP has never emerged from its niche -- the sense in which its concepts, its vocabulary and its consequences have remained shrouded in almost wilful ignorance on the part of so many people who are affected by it daily. This in turn addresses Nigel Swycher's second point.

Consider this: when an individual suffers from a medical condition, he or she will generally be quick to take expert advice about it, to ascertain how long it is likely to persist and what sort of short- and long-term impact it might make.  Terminology relating to body parts, medicines, treatments and possible adverse reactions will be swiftly mastered and the person afflicted will be keen to interact with experts from all relevant disciplines when dealing with diagnosis, therapy, convalescence and the like.  

How different this so often is when a business has an IP problem. Information is often acquired from inappropriate or outdated sources and communications between the business afflicted and the necessary tax, marketing and finance inputs are put at risk by indifference, an unwillingness to dig down beneath superficial assumptions and by the hope or belief that the solution -- whatever it may be -- lies in someone else's hands. 

Collaboration across teams and between disciplines is essential; that much is clear.  But the success of any collaboration is contingent on the extent to which the collaborators understand each other.  For as long as tax, marketing and finance experts -- and their clients -- fail to master the notions that drive IP, their fate may be sealed.

You can access the Aistemos IP Strategy Report by clicking here.

Friday, 19 May 2017

A new home online for Cipher

Aistemos's Cipher intellectual property analytics tool has featured many time on this weblog, and has furnished the analytical basis for a large number of its most popular and informative blogposts [if you're not yet familiar with Cipher and its capacity to generate commercially relevant data, which it represents in a clear and user-friendly format, follow the links to our blogposts here]

The reason for mentioning this is that Cipher now has a handsome and revamped online presence, via its new address at If you are wondering, "ai" is the country code top-level domain for Anguilla [more on this ccTLD here] -- but it's also the first two letters of "Aistemos", which is why we chose it.

Do take the opportunity to visit the new Cipher site and let Aistemos know what you think of it.  All feedback is gratefully received!

While on the subject of Aistemos online, this weblog is in line for a bit of smartening up itself, as regular readers will soon find out.  Meanwhile, remember that you can sign up to receive our blogposts by email, by typing your email address into the box provided in the sidebar on the blog's home page.  You can also keep abreast via an RSS feed (look for the RSS icon, also in the sidebar).

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Moni in the media

Aistemos COO Moni Mannings is, as her title suggests, an integral part of the Aistemos team.  With her extensive experience in the fields of law and finance, she has the capacity to broaden the perspective of IP analysts at the point where their discipline dovetails with commercial considerations that face real-world businesses.

Last month Moni was interviewed by a leading Irish radio channel RTE Radio 1 Interviewer and Irish Dragon's Den presenter Richard Curran.  Richard put Moni through her paces on 'The Business', giving her a chance to tell her personal story and to describe the challenges she has faced in a male and white privileged world. 

You can listen to Moni's interview by clicking here.

More about Moni here.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A taxing issue: IP valuation, scrutiny, national taxation and global trade

Looking for a clue that might
lead to a good IP valuation ...
"Legal Issues: IP Asset Valuation and IRS Scrutiny" is a paper published in September of last year but posted to SSRN only last week by George H. Pike (Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law). "Legal Issues", a monthly column in Information Today, looks at legal concerns and challenges for the information industry in general; its ambit is not specifically tied to intellectual property.  

Pike's paper is short, weighing in at just three sides, but it touches on two well-known and highly sensitive issues: the valuation of intellectual property and the taxation of IP-based businesses that do not fit neatly within national borders but spill beyond them, generating profit on a global basis.  There is also a third issue, one that involves transparency and the ability of national tax authorities (in this case the United States) to obtain the level of information they require.  While no specific type of IP right is singled out, it is clear that the herd of elephants in the room is overwhelmingly comprised of patents -- those owned by Google, Facebook and Apple in particular.  

For the best part of the past decade, concern has been expressed that some of the world's most profitable companies have been carefully deploying their IP assets in their efforts to secure that their tax liability be incurred in jurisdictions where tax rates are low. They have however been doing so in a world in which questions have been posed as to the suitability of the existing regime of rules governing international taxation and the avoidance of double liability, where large profits are being made in places where no corresponding benefit through taxation is being enjoyed,

Pike's piece does not suggest that the businesses he names have committed any criminal acts under United States law; the worst-case scenario here appears to be one of making up for underpaid taxes. However, corporations like Google, Facebook and Apple must comply with tax laws in a wide variety of jurisdictions, from those that offer favourable tax rates as an incentive to invest, at one end of the scale, to those at the other extreme which see big business as an asset to be milked.  Issues involving IP rights, their ability to generate profit and the value placed on them will likely lie at the heart of the debate as to what sort of taxes their owners and users pay -- a debate that patent proprietors and other IP owners await with interest.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Aistemos blogposts for April: a handy summary

Each month we list and summarise the previous month's blogposts for readers who have been away or who were simply too busy to follow them in real time.  This blog lists our main posts for the recently-passed month of April.

Every one of the blogposts listed below comes with a moderated comment facility, so please feel welcome to respond to anything you read, whether you disagree with it, wish to amplify or clarify its points, or merely provide further links to relevant material.

April's substantive blogposts are as follows:

Thursday, 27 April 2017: The IP Strategy Report -- now available online

Last month's inaugural Managing Intellectual Property IP Strategy Forum 2017 [on which see earlier blogposts here] provided a handy launch-pad for the Aistemos IP Strategy Report, prepared for the company by leading journalist Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor at the Telegraph and former Online Editor of Management Today Magazine. The report, at 38 pages, is packed with text and tables based on the findings drawn from an extensive survey of business attitudes and awareness conducted by Aistemos between August and October 2016. You can access it via this blogpost.


Many of those who attended the IP Strategy Forum (mentioned in the item above) were from IP's Big Battalions and their professional representatives, but others who made their presence felt were drawn from the banking, investment and academic sectors too.  Some were there to learn; others to meet celebrity speakers or old friends; others were there to gain some comfort from being able to share their feelings and their ideas with like-minded colleagues. All present were however in agreement about one thing. To find out what that was, read this blogpost.


This post corrects a piece of information concerning our level of activity on the blogosphere over the first few months of this year.


Should patent-granting offices keep to their traditional activities of examining and granting (or rejecting) patent applications, or is there scope for them to evolve into a wider role in terms of formulating and implementing economic policy?


In the wake of our recent and well-received posts on the spread of patents for encryption and cryptography ["Encryption, cryptography and the current state of patents", here, and "Encryption and Enigma", here], here's a follow-up on a specific aspect of security that has been quietly gaining momentum for some while: facial recognition. With the aid of the Aistemos Cipher tool, we have put together a few facts and observations for your interest and edification.

You can check out Aistemos's posts over the previous twelve months below:

Thursday, 27 April 2017

The IP Strategy Report -- now available online

Yesterday's inaugural Managing Intellectual Property IP Strategy Forum 2017 [on which see earlier blogposts here] also provided a launch-pad for the Aistemos IP Strategy Report, prepared for the company by leading journalist Rebecca Burn-Callander, Enterprise Editor at the Telegraph and former Online Editor of Management Today Magazine.

The report, at 38 pages, is packed with text and tables based on the findings drawn from an extensive survey of business attitudes and awareness conducted by Aistemos between August and October 2016. It builds on the survey's findings and synthesises them within the context of the unifying theme of how to function best in a milieu that is increasingly dominated by intellectual property considerations.

You can access a copy of this report, which is free, by clicking through to the Aistemos website here

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

In praise of facts: a short thought on IP strategy

Facts must be more than
right -- they must also
be accessible by those
who have to act on them
Today's inaugural IP Strategy Forum, organised by Managing IP magazine and sponsored by Aistemos (among others), proved to be a great success, judging not only by the comments of those who had the privilege of attending but also by the fact that almost everyone stayed on to the end of what turned out to be a long, hard -- if thoroughly enjoyable -- day.

Many of those present were from IP's Big Battalions and their professional representatives, but others who made their presence felt were drawn from the banking, investment and academic sectors too.  Some were there to learn; others to meet celebrity speakers or old friends; others were there to gain some comfort from being able to share their feelings and their ideas with like-minded colleagues.

A rich and varied programme, populated by such different speakers, is a surprising place to find consensus, but there was something on which everyone was agreement -- whether talking about Industry 4.0, standard-essential patents, M&A due diligence, securitisation, valuation or anything else.  The subject of this unexpected unanimity was the need for information that was current, accurate and capable of being absorbed and understood by decision-makers who appreciated the importance of intellectual property while being unfamiliar with its detailed vocabulary and technicalities.

If, as it seems, the need for user-friendly information that can underpin the right decision is universal, it remains puzzling that generations of service providers have failed to deliver it in the manner demanded by its users.  IP analytics, as provided by Cipher and its competitors, is a discipline that has arrived late upon the scene, being a happy product of technical progress in the processing and presentation of available data.  But there remains a question of how well the legal profession and business advisers can communicate their knowledge to those who so keenly need it.  Now that we have the facts at our fingertips, it still remains to get them across.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

A howler from Owler: putting the record straight

The ever-interesting community-based business insights platform Owler surprised us by issuing a competitive profile with the subject heading "Aistemos Getting Out-Blogged By PatSnap: Q1 Blog Report". The substance of the profile was that "Aistemos had no blog posts this quarter compared to 30 from PatSnap".  Readers of this weblog will know that, between January and March, we have been far from inactive.  During that period we posted 35 items on this blog.  According to our trusty abacus, 35 minus 30 leaves 5, which is the number of blogposts by which we outblogged PatSnap.

Apart from putting the record straight, we can add a couple of further comments.  

One is that the quality of a business and its competitive edge can be reflected by many different criteria, but the number of blogposts per quarter is not one that would automatically spring to our minds, any more than the number of Tweets emitted or followers attracted. 

The second is that the process of counting blogposts can be simplified and automated through such devices as RSS feeds. However, it's always a good idea to check one's conclusions against reality on the ground (or, in this case, in the blogosphere).  If an otherwise live and energetic business appears to have ceased participating in any sector of the social media or a full three months,  it would only take a moment for a human to look at the sector concerned and see if the figures truly reflect that reality.

By the way, this tale has a happy ending.  While Owler can't actually retract or correct information once it has been released, the company will be working together with Aistemos to make sure that this doesn't happen again.

Friday, 21 April 2017

IP Strategy Forum 2017: next week's agenda for your future plans

Readers of this weblog should already know all about this year's inaugural IP Strategy Forum, which we've mentioned a little while back [our earlier posts on this exciting event can be accessed here]Well, after a great deal of careful planning, the Forum will take place next week. In short, as this morning's release from Aistemos indicates:
To coincide with World IP Day on 26 April, we are hosting the inaugural IP Strategy Forum with Managing Intellectual Property, at the ETC County Hall, London.

The IP Strategy Forum features leading IP experts from major corporations and their advisers. The speaker line-up includes the Heads of IP from ARM, Philips, ABB, Qualcomm, BAE Systems and many others. We will also be releasing the Aistemos IP Strategy Report which is a study of the state of corporate awareness of IP issues.

With less than a week to go, spaces are limited, so be sure to register. Attendance for corporates is free and Aistemos have negotiated a discounted rate for external advisers.

If you are unable to make it, be sure you follow our live Twitter feed for all the latest updates.
Hope you can join us, or at least little to some very well-informed tweets via #IPStrategyForum2017.

Programme details here

Register here

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Should economic competitiveness be off-limits for patent-granting offices?

Patent Offices handle their bureaucratic
tasks well, but does that qualify them to
pitch in on economic issues too?
OxFirst is running a free webinar next week (Thursday, 20 April 2017) on "The approach of the European Patent Office to digitalization and the Internet of Things". The presenter is Professor Yann Meniere, Chief Economist at the European Patent Office. The marketing material for this webinar contains the following paragraph, which is worth thinking about:
"With the Internet of Things promising significant job creation and growth rates, the question arises what patent offices can do to promote competitiveness in the digital space ..."
In the second half of the last century, the role of patent-granting institutions began to evolve. Originally the classical national Patent Office had a purely administrative role in receiving, examining and granting (or refusing) patents, maintaining a register, collecting fees and performing a number of rudimentary judicial tasks.  To these roles were added further ones, such as the assembly of libraries of literary material and published patent records for public use and the publicising of official functions through participation in exhibitions, conferences and seminars. Matters quite unrelated to the administrative function of the Patent Office were also addressed, such as offering information and guidance on prototyping, raising of capital and licensing. However, the role of the intellectual property office in helping to formulate and implement economic policy is relatively recent.

This evolution, and its consequences, appears to have been largely unnoticed.

It may be worth asking ourselves whether it is truly appropriate for the role of any patent-granting body -- whether at national level or regionally, as in the case of the European Patent Office -- to include the promotion of competitiveness, in the digital space or elsewhere.  What if the institutional view of what constitutes competitiveness, or which is the best way of achieving it, is at odds with the position of national governments or bodies such as the European Commission? It is not beyond the wit of mankind to propound theories of competitiveness that require either the broadening of patent protection or its narrowing.  And one can also make a case for the best thing any patent-granting office can do for competitors in the marketplace is to examine, grant or reject patent applications as speedily, accurately and cheaply as man and machine can muster.

You can register for the OxFirst webinar by clicking here.