European companies approach to IP

The Economist Intelligence Unit – sponsored by Qualcomm – published 5 years ago, in 2007, a White Paper on how European companies approach IP and more importantly, how they value Intellectual Property Management. Based on interviews and surveys of major EU companies questions were asked about the major threats they face in their corporate strategy as far as IP is concerned.

The main findings at the time were:

The strategic importance of IP is growing rapidly. As Europe’s industrial base has declined, so

the continent has come to rely upon its knowledgeworkers. Ideas are therefore its most valuable resource. Yet they cannot merely be protected. Value generation has become the primary goal of IP management, with IP portfolios increasingly assessed on the basis of the potential of markets rather than the potential of technologies.

European IP remains under threat from both developing and developed markets.

Patent infringement from emerging-market competitors tops the list of threats to IP cited by surveyed executives. China is the respondents’ biggest worry (cited by 40% as the chief geographic source of risk). Executives are optimistic, however, that the country’s IP regime will improve in the short to medium term, as local firms develop valuable IP of their own. In the developed world, meanwhile, recurrent litigation and inconsistent international patent legislation are a major drain on the resources of European companies.

Collaboration is crucial to IP value maximization.

It is now beyond the means of any single company to monopolies the best knowledge of any particular industry. Realizing the full potential of ideas means letting them flow in and out of organizations to where they can be most efficiently handled at each stage of their development. Moreover, open-source technologies, typically in software, are providing large companies with free platforms on which to build proprietary offerings, in return for community support.

European companies need greater legal harmonization.

Now that the long-awaited European Community Patent looks likely to become law, Europe’s policymakers must turn their attention to harmonizing local IP standards, practices and rules in order to lower the cost of innovation for local companies. The European Commission and EU member governments can also help by lobbying and working with authorities in emerging markets to improve their enforcement capacity.

Although the Paper is already 5 years old, we don’t think much has changed towards the “issues”. They are still there. But what about action? what actions, if any, have been taken to address those issues? In the following months IPEG intends to publish various post on these same subjects to see what actions companies and organizations have taken to change their approach towards IP. As an example: in the survey 40% of the executives interviewed or surveyed mentioned China as a major threat to their competitiveness. What has become of that? Did it materialize? Did companies took a different IP strategy to face these challenges?

To be continued

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