The start of the year is a great time to take stock and, with so much change in the world, I wanted to add my perspective from the world of intellectual property:
1. Never been better: how so?
Few like the direction of travel for US patent reform, copyright in Europe is a mess, SEPs and FRAND policy is chaotic, NPEs are still causing trouble, China has entered the mix. But that’s the point. Many people care. Legislators, regulators, economists, investors. So whilst change can be uncomfortable, it is an essential prerequisite of evolution.
2. Now a strategic issue: really?
Yes really. Aistemos conducted an industry survey last year and are publishing a series of reports [the first, "The Rise and Rise of the Intangible Asset", is published here]. The main finding is that IP Strategy is a thing. Boards are interested in IP and now see intangibles as more than a cost. And so they should - intangibles more often than not account for the majority of enterprise value.
3. Investors care, lenders don’t
Slightly upsetting. I used to think this was one issue. It’s not. There are now more M&A deals than ever before where IP matters. There remain few financings where the primary collateral is IP. There is a good reason for this, and it’s the difference between value and valuation. No one has a problem accepting the former when it comes to IP. Everyone has a problem agreeing on the latter.
4. Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion
A half truth. IP has been a specialist sport for too long, controlled by experts in ivory towers (I speak from decades of personal experience). There is no shortage of data, but we are only now seeing the potential of AI and machine learning to extract insight. Cipher is leading the way, but expect to see significant improvements in IP analytics in the year to come.
5. Increased transparency: what, no more hide and seek?
The three legs of the IP stool are ownership, licensing and litigation. There are significant developments to improve access to data in all areas. (Quick plug for ORoPO, which helps answer the question who owns the world’s patents). While some companies still struggle to balance transparency and secrecy/ competitive advantage, they are signs that this coin will land the right way up.
We live in interesting times
From a technology perspective the pace shows no sign of slowing down. In 10 years, there are whole sectors that will be unrecognizable. What are the long term implications of FinTech, MedTech, Autonomous Vehicles, AI/machine learning, Internet of Things/connected devices? I don’t have the answer. I do have Cipher, and I remain convinced that increasing and improving access to the right information at the right time, is essential.If you'd like to comment on any of these points or start a discussion, you can do so by posting your points below. Alternatively you can contact Nigel Swycher directly by email or via Aistemos.