What is the value of Intellectual Property?
It’s no secret that intellectual property is the capital upon which digital age companies build their business. If you look at the Fortune 500, the value of IP for its largest companies ranges between 45% – 75% and also represents the highest growth area in the global economy.For many companies, the value of IP breaks down to protecting their return on investment while continuing to grow and innovate. It’s an acceptable ROI that enables growth and continued funding of continued innovation.With the ongoing evolution of the net -traditional business, education, healthcare, and other types of models are being turned on their heads. Not surprisingly, this evolution has put intellectual property and its protection at the centre of many debates. Be it the pilfering of ideas or the production of counterfeiting goods, it’s the very strength of a company’s brand that makes it vulnerable to IP theft. It’s clear that IP theft is no longer limited in scope and affects geographies throughout the world. The concern is evidenced by actions such as the initiation of negotiations aimed at reaching a multilateral Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) among some of the leading economies of the world.. But what specifically needs to be done? Is additional legislation needed in some areas to better secure IP protection? If rules are implemented, how far should ex-ante or ex-post rules be introduced?In terms of the flow of information are general competition laws a sufficient remedy for complaints about perceived restrictions on content availability? Or do we risk impeding on-going innovation if governments over-regulate? If you believe we’re moving towards a long-tailed –flat world, business will invest in places where communities of innovators are evolving, where the talent is, where potential markets are developing, where intellectual property is thriving, and where it’s protected. A lack of IP protection is increasingly becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle that makes it less economically palpable to invest and innovate in specific areas. What business often finds frustrating is how part of the IP debate ends up being focused in part, on corporations vs. consumers. Nothing could be further from the truth. In this day and age, Intellectual Property rights and their protection are just as important as laying claim to commodities, promoting the manufacturing base, creating jobs, or ensuring the safety of citizens. IP is the new capital – for a new economy. Failure to adequately protect IP will stunt innovation and risk undermining what we’ve created… and what will be created. Let’s not fool ourselves. We’re unlikely to ever get any public policy 100% correct. That’s why public policy will always remain a living breathing entity – evolving with the times. But the result of inaction is always inherently more risky.–Recently, I participated on a panel that focused on the issue of Intellectual Property rights in Canada. It featured a diverse mix of views from both the business, academic, and government point of view. A VoD of CPAC’s coverage can be found here: IP Rights in Canada