Innovation and IP mandarins

How can innovation and IP contribute to weather Europe through a severe economic downturn? China, and other Asian countries will not sit on their hands while developing high tech industries to fight recession and to keep up economic activity and demand. A very exemplary situation is the recent approval and backing Korea and China gave to an initiative to set up a new joint development project in Korea (KCIID) where Chinese companies are provided by Korean and Chinese governments with land, knowledge, tech transfer facilities as well as financial support to produce innovative products and services for the years to come. To enable those companies to effectively compete and not being held up by insurmountable IP issues in their export markets, the idea is for KCIID to not only develop but rather acquire existing IP. Doing so would provide access to the KCIID partners upon payment of a reasonable licensee fee for each product manufactured (and exported outside China to support the development work. That’s the plan. So, the level of sophistication in Asian development projects like these reaches out to IP as a vital part of any innovation strategy. Something we could learn from in the West.

Intellectual property in the West, most notably in Western Europe, is still seen by many CEO’s and CFO’s as something they have no idea of, consider it a cost burden rather than a value proposition. The IP community is largely to blame for this. For years they looked upon themselves as mandarins, an inner circle of elite members versed in the most difficult part of law, economy and technology, considered too difficult to understand for common business people. Now we bear the fruit of this unfortunate approach to IP. How can one explain how vital a role IP can play in innovation and getting the economy on its right track if no company executive has been told how and why IP can contribute to a company’s value?

Politicians can also hardly be blamed for a lack of vision how vital a role IP must play. It is no surprise that politicians in the recent past have to let their ears hang to open source proponents who’s continuous discussions about quality of intellectual property clouds a clear view on what really would help their innovative constituency to produce economic growth and recession proof strategies: IP.

That being said, it is important for the IP community to critically evaluate the role IP has to play in necessary innovation in energy, communication and improved productivity. If, as many fear, the outcome is that IP hinders rather then facilitates innovation, we need to revise our IP rules so as to better be able to play the role IP was meant to be: as an engine to stimulate innovation and growth.

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