What were the key themes of the Intellectual Property Awareness Summit?
The summit’s overall theme was enhancing intellectual property value through better understanding. We looked at how different audiences view IP rights and why, as well as some of the ways non-professionals can be brought up to speed about what IP provides and to whom.
IPAS 2017 brought together, for the first time, IP holders, organisations, scholars, inventors, writers and investors concerned about how IP rights are seen and used. The panel sessions addressed the impediments to IP understanding, including the depiction of IP licensing in the media. IP is everyone’s business.
The summit’s goal was to help participants better understand the source of IP confusion and frustration, and to identify ways to mitigate it.
Why is IP awareness so important? How important is it for US innovation?
IP rights have fared poorly in public opinion. Many people believe that IP rights—covering content, inventions and brands—are free to use because they are so highly accessible. This presents a dangerous scenario, and is a threat to innovation, authorship, and, ultimately, to jobs. Frustration with IP rights continues to grow and affects all forms of IP.
Rightsholders and users are angry about the uncertainty associated with rights and the inconsistency of how enforcement is applied.
It is becoming increasingly difficult for many audiences to know which rights to respect and when. The internet has not made recognition any easier.
Business and individuals share a common affliction when it comes to IP: they both generally refuse to pay for using rights unless they have to. IPAS 2017 keynote speaker David Teece, director of the Tusher Center for Intellectual Capital Management at UC Berkeley-Haas, says that if we continue to protect and reward just the production of tangible goods, while shortchanging intangibles, we will be out of step with technological progress.
Economies will eventually falter if the creation of intangibles is compromised through poorly designed and weakly enforced intellectual property rules. The US is the world’s most ideas-driven and innovation-based economy, and until recently, the US had the best IP regime. Without a reliable and consistent system of rewards, the future will not resemble the past.
What is in the works for CIPU next year? How will you expand your advocacy efforts?
The Center for IP Understanding (CIPU) will continue to illustrate the positive impact of IP rights on innovation, businesses and jobs, as well as document the growing threat from IP rights erosion.
Among the projects we are considering is a plan to identify, annotate and publicise currently available IP education activities and content. It will not only be helpful to a variety of audiences, but also help to determine what is missing.
We are also looking at creating an interdisciplinary committee to establish suggested minimum IP awareness standards for various audiences, including teachers and teenagers.
CIPU board members and others will continue to write and speak publicly about IP understanding and the importance of education for all.
We will be working with educators and researchers to understand better how people learn about IP rights and form impressions. We also are working with Ideas Matter to produce a video about IPAS 2017 and CIPU, and the need for diverse audiences to be mindful of what IP achieves.
CIPU will be working more closely with our partners, the Tusher Center for Intellectual Capital Management, the Michelson 20MM Foundation and Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology.
Finally, we will continue to publicise the activities of IP organisations like the Global IP Centre (the Chamber of Commerce), the IPO Education Foundation, IPOS (Singapore), EUIPO, WIPO and universities.
How can interested parties work with CIPU and continue the dialogue on IP awareness?
We recently started a LinkedIn group, ‘IPAS 2017’. People who have something to say or report about IP understanding or education, are welcome to join and encouraged to post. We hope that sharing with the group will grow.
If there are IP education activities, data or research you are aware of, please let us know.
People can also join our mailing list by going to understandingip.org/ contact. On Twitter, you can find CIPU under @centerforip.
CIPU would like to help make IP misinformation and routine abuse unacceptable. We welcome hearing about positive learning experiences with creators, students and others.
Serial IP infringers, whether they be individuals or companies are not only breaking the law, they are making it harder for individuals and businesses to compete.
Read the full November issue here.
Patents and Prejudice
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a good invention, must be in want of a patent, but with the emergence of significant
abuses of the system, public perception has suffered. Manny Schecter explains
What is the widespread confusion over intellectual property rights? Who is spreading this message?
The confusion is with respect to whether IP rights promote or inhibit innovation. IP rights are intended to promote innovation by acting as an incentive.
The victims of patent abuse initially spread the message and when the public learns about the abuses, some get the impression that IP rights are inherently suspect when in fact we just need to address the abuses.
The public loses sight of how intellectual property prevents competitors from unjustly taking others’ innovations.
Earlier this year at the London IP Summit, you talked about the negative image of patents in areas such as software, what can the industry do to change this image?
The industry needs to highlight the importance and value of patents. Patents are a mechanism for preventing others from getting a free ride on inventions that come from investment in research and development. This is particularly important to small inventors and small companies because they may otherwise have little leverage against much larger competitors that copy their inventions.
So, we need to do a better job of ensuring the public understands that patents are a mechanism for ensuring fair play. Unfortunately, we’ve seen some abuses of the patent system, including attempted enforcement of meritless patents.
I’m sympathetic to and support the elimination of those abuses, but we need to ensure that the rhetoric we use in advocating to resolve the problems of the patent system do not overshadow the overall benefit of the patent system in the minds of the public. The patent system promotes innovation, which is helpful to our economy.
How can abuses within the patent system be solved?
The patent system is complex, so the optimal state of balance is not always clear. We go through periods whereby adjustments to the system lead to it being too strong or too weak. When abuses become apparent we need to make further adjustments.
Adjustments should be narrowly tailored toward the abuses so as to optimise the promotion of innovation and minimise the abuses. The patent community has a responsibility to highlight the abuses so that our government make the necessary adjustments.
How much does public perception play into finding and actioning solutions?
Public perception plays an important role. As with most other issues, our government acts in response to concerns heard from the public. It is important that all perspectives be understood so that the concerns be accurately identified and solutions be closely tailored to them.
Is congressional patent reform a potential avenue, considering how muddled case law has become?
Absolutely. Federal courts may have an easier time acting because the justices are not subject to elections. However, courts are limited in that they can only address cases brought before them.
It is Congress’ role, not the courts, to set policy. That said, Congress generally won’t act unless there is sufficient consensus, which may take time to achieve.
As we heard at IPAS 2017, restrictions in the US patent system have led to foreign jurisdictions becoming more sought after by inventors. What are these jurisdictions doing well and how can the US continue to compete?
Foreign jurisdictions are strengthening their patent systems. China has done so as it has transitioned from a developing to a developed economy with greater dependence on innovation.
For example, China has formed specialised IP courts, demonstrating a strong focus on developing consistent rules around the development and enforcement of IP.
Europe is very close to enacting a unitary patent system that would apply to nearly all of Europe rather on a country-by-country basis, thereby making their patents more attractive. The most recent adjustments in the US weakened our patent system.
To compete, we need further adjustments to strengthen our patent system, but not to make our patent system so strong as to reinvigorate the abuses that the most recent adjustments attempted to mitigate.
Read the full December issue here.
Living on Awareness
As the first of its kind, the Intellectual Property Awareness Summit aimed to
enhance IP understanding and address confusion. Bruce Berman explains