As I have been writing about for the past several months on this blog, business and investment professionals should consider intellectual property (“IP”) to be a critical matter for business, not just lawyers. The correctness of this concept was validated by the occurrence of a recent conference attended by worldwide thought-leaders in IP. This first annual Business IP Congress(tm) occurred in June 2008 in Amsterdam.
From the final program contents, it appears that the 2 day conference consisted in large part of an examination of what the role of a Chief Intellectual Property Officer (“CIPO”) is and should be in today’s global IP-centric business environment. The overall context of a thought-leader led discussion of what a CIPO is and should be confirms the emerging modern view that IP is a matter for the C-level business operations of an organization, and should not be relegated to the “backwater” (my words) of the legal department.
I was not able to attend the Congress this year, but obtained a high-level overview of the take-aways from Duncan Bucknell at his IP ThinkTank(tm) Blog. A more detailed summary is provided by Joff Wild at the IAM Magazine Blog (IAM Magazine was a co-sponsor of the Congress).
I will leave the summaries of the Congress to the excellent first-hand accounts of Duncan and Joff. The reason I bring up this event after the fact is because the fact that it even occurred at all provides further proof that IP strategy has become a critical BUSINESS function of leading corporations throughout the world. Thus, any business or investment professional who has not yet developed and executed on an IP strategy that is aligned with his/her business strategy is undoubtedly making a significant management error.
Moreover, taking taking point #4 from Joff’s summary, the consensus of the Congress attendees was that US business remains “woefully uninformed about intellectual property”. As an IP Business Strategist and consultant (more info here: www.jackiehutter.com), Joff’s observation demonstrates to me tremendous opportunity for first mover advantage for those seeking to get a leg up on their competition. That is, if your company wakes up to the value of developing and executing on an IP strategy directed toward protecting your proprietary innovations, even while your competitors still remain “woefully uninformed” about IP, you can effectively (and legally) keep your competitors out of your profitable markets. Of course, if your competitors cannot play in your space, you need compete less on price and, as a result, will be able to earn a premium in the marketplace for your company’s successful differentiated innovations.
The establishment of the Business IP Congress as a forum for worldwide thought-leaders to share and develop best practices in the business of IP should send a strong signal to business and investment professionals that IP strategy is only going to become more prevalent in the management functions of the modern company and, thus, become even more critical to its effective operation. Corporate leaders should not wonder WHETHER their company should adopt and execute on an IP strategy, but rather IF they have beaten their competitors to the punch in the IP strategy game.