June 21, 2010

IP Business Congress - Day 1 Round up

I have the great opportunity to visit this years main IP event - the IP Business Congress held in Munich.
The conference is doing a good job of bringing together "who's who" within the, seemingly, small world (probably home to readers of this blog) of generating value from IP. This post will be a (short) summary and some thoughts after the first day.

As a reflection - the crowd is slightly different than at last years CIP Forum and the focus of the two events is also slightly different, but also noticeable - IP as a business asset vs. Innovation / Knowledge Economy. This resulting in more service providers, brokers and licensing executives than NGO's and University / Tech Transfer.

The evolving IP Business Market
This was the first topic of the day featuring heavyweights debating recent developments. Panelists included Intellectual Ventures' Vincent Pluvinage, GE's Carl Horton and Marshal Phelps

Pluvinage started of giving a lecture derived from his last IAM contribution "Patent Power". He made a really good point of showing that ubiquitous broadband access is the real driver of getting China and India involved in the Innovation/IP setting. He used a very illustrative example from his China trips a decade back when a chinese fiber optics contractor said that "1 meter of fibre is cheaper than 1 meter of noodles - one feeds the stomach, the other one the brain". I personally really enjoy Vincent's data/finance driven style and also encourage you to read his article.

Further on Phelps gave food for thought on non-monetary valuation of IP with examples from MSOFT and IBM. Both cases presented very impressive numbers and two stories. IBM as the real income center with 1800+ cross licenses and 2B USD generated from 35M USD costs. MSOFT the slight opposite as, in Phelps own words, he managed to sign 600 peace-treaties, when growing their cross license count from zero.

My main take-away from the first session was however Wayne Sobon, head of IP at Accenture. Wayne was given the task to talk about IP Valuation and in my mind he did an excellent job and raised some good views using trade-offs and Apple as examples. What was also encouraging was the way he talked about the difference of IP and IPR's (as well as general IA) and how that affects the value and context. A great valuation example (without metrics) using Apple was the thought experiment whether they could have made mor money outlicensing iPod IP rather than having (the status quo) of no one being allowed to produce an iPod copy.

IP and SMEs
Was the topic for the second keynote/panel discussion, apparently brought in by popular demand.
Although perhaps not addressing the issues of typical SMEs, they had gathered a very inspiring panel of small companies entirely relying on IP for success, as well as Andrew Watson serving with "color commentary" from a SME advisor perspective.

Two of the companies were Philips display spin-out Liquavista and Spanish bio SME since 25 years Ingenasa. Although telling very IP-savvy stories, Ambature ,headed up by ex-HP head of IP Joe Beyers, was a real poster child for IP based business and had some amazingly IP savvy procedures. For example: aligning research / engineering to fit certain claims as they go through , having investors waive IP rights to fight conflicts of interest.
All of us are of course not ex heads of IP from HP but it was anyhow inspiring to see how someone who really knows IP and more importantly IP in a business setting, put it into practice.

A topic that was brought up in both morning sessions was SME's in relation to BigCo and also in relation to the patent system, patent reform. No real breakthrough things were said, although I liked Carl Horton (head of IP GE) had a great point when saying" GE is so large that they could do without patents, they could use market power to take out smaller companies - IP is really for the SMEs, it's the only way SMEs can challenge and win against BigCo"

Is the next decade - the decade of IP in Asia?
And some finishing words on one of the breakout sessions, handling the emerging field of IP monetization and IP awareness in mainly China, Korea and Taiwan, but also sharing insights into Japan.

One thing which worried all Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese companies were NPEs, and how to come to grips with them. As seen in Patent Freedom research they are more and more becoming a target of NPE's. Although they cannot really (just as any other company) not counter fight the NPEs more companies are joining RPX and the like.

Finally - two interesting developments in Taiwan and Korea where the PTOs use funds to run something similar to a catch-and-release scheme for all national companies. I.e. gathering IP and making sure all national companies have access to the same IP. This is in my mind a great initiative but it still does not address the issue, also brought up by Japanese panelist Yoshi Ryujin, that in order to really monetize their IP Asian companies will still turn to the US market.

For more info (tweets / links) from IPBC try this link.
Tune back later this week for more IPBC updates.


Twitter: @marcusmalek


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