There is more to IP than patents. And there is more to intangible value than IP. At previous IPBCs, almost all the talk has been about patents. This year it was very noticeable how many more people were speaking about brands, intellectual assets and capital, and intangibles in general. Patents are just one part of one part of the equation. What is the point in owning potentially great patents if no-one wants to buy into the brands that you build around them and/or you do not have the distribution know-how to get branded products in front of potential buyers? And who is going to buy anything from you if your reputation stinks? For IP professionals the next big challenge could be about contextualising their roles and expanding them into areas that are not necessarily obvious fits right now. Expect to see a lot more about all of this over the coming years.
That is good news. While IP is important, intangibles are more important.
Joff also made another interesting point:
The debate about IP needs to be less about processes and procedures, and a lot more focused on what IP enables – jobs, health, a cleaner environment and so on. It’s when you start talking about these t[h]ings and demonstrating the facilitative role IP plays that you get the attention of the top policy makers. David Kappos and Gary Locke in the US are teaching the IP world a lot of lessons at the moment. They need to be learned.
I would broaden that to cover all intangibles. The value of intangibles is how they affect outcomes in terms of productivity and innovation leading to economic prosperity and higher standards of living. Thus, it is not simply how well the US produces intangible assets — but how well we use them. For policymaker, and everyone, that should be the bottom line.