Last week provided me with a special opportunity to address the global IP team of a Fortune 500 multinational telecommunications company at their bi-annual strategic planning meeting. I was scheduled for the post lunch address in the middle of the four day event that had more than two hundred company participants, Chaired by the company CIPO. My invitation was to share Ocean Tomo’s long-range view of the IP marketplace extending to 2020 and beyond. In the 40 minutes I was given, I briefly recounted the history of the last quarter century which provides the foundation for the current market. I also presented our sense of the immediate challenges, trends and opportunities for the next 12 to 18 months (see my video series forecasting Ocean Tomo plans for 2015). The focus of the discussion however was the mega trends, risks and expectations over the coming 5 to 10 years. I outline this discussion briefly below. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a redacted, public version of the entire presentation.
There are many trends which will have influence on IP markets in the coming decade. I focused on four with my telecom audience: convergence, maker movement, shared society and all-connect. The smart phone may be the most often discussed convergence platform but clearly this consolidation of technology, and the IP which protects it, is being repeated with automobiles, wearables and health care, just to name a few. Convergence makes access to needed solution-based IP pools critical. The maker movement has now matured to the point where IP rights management is a central part of the conversation. Ocean Tomo has responded by development a market place for 3D print design search, access and IP transfer (see www.3Discovered.com). The daily scope of the new shared society — whether shopping on ebay or riding to the next meeting with Uber — is now obvious. For a telecom company, they knew well before my visit the impact of an all-connect society where mobile broadband subscriptions are expected to have a 25% annual growth rate between now and 2020. By then, we expect to see 9 billion mobile subscriptions, three times as may smartphones as today and 8 billion mobile broadband subscriptions.
I shared with my nodding audience our sense of the IP impact of these trends including vertical disintegration of R&D with global centers of excellence; a rise of international co-invention and globalization of R&D; and, an enhanced requirement for efficient and transparent technology transfer.
Desired IP market development necessitated by such rapid technology transformation is not assured. There are a number of risks which could derail expectations including:
- Unintended secondary consequences of legislative or judicial reform
- Continued dilution of “power to exclude” with case decisions such as ebay, administrative actions in the USPTO or ITC and de facto compulsory licensing of essential patents
- Concentrated foreign sovereign ownership and management of IP rights without comparable U.S. policy
- Misconceived financial reporting requirements
- Single-sided corporate attitude to technology transfer wherein there is an agenda only to out-license
- An exhaustive “wait and see” attitude by operating companies who desire more transparency and efficiency but are in practice only late comers to new models
- Unchecked shareholder activism and litigation
- Failure of risk markets to develop including both traditional insurance and financial hedging<
- Failure to attract liquidity providers
- Large case public failures due to false expectations of value.
David Houle (www.DavidHoule.com) is a futurist, strategist and keynote speaker. He has always been slightly ahead of the curve and is consistently ranked as one of the top futurists on the major search engines. He is often called the “CEOs’ futurist” having spoken to or advised thousands of CEOs and business owners. Houle has written on the future of IP markets and I prefaced my own expectations by sharing some of his including:
- IP will be the wealth of the Shift Age. As land created wealth in the Agricultural Age, control of production created wealth in the Industrial Age, creating/inventing technology created wealth in the Information Age, IP will be the wealth creation of the Shift Age.
- The IP market will become liquid and transaction oriented. IP is about to move to a much more open marketplace leaving the ‘vaults’ of companies and coming to open exchanges.
- The IP market goes global. Nation states and boundaries will mean less every year. This will lead to a globalization of IP with emphasis on ‘speed to a global market’.
- In the post-digital world giving away IP will help create value for that IP. A blogger “gives away” IP and ends up with a book deal or speaking engagements. A band gives away free songs to promote an “album” that they sell direct to fans.
- IP will increasingly be valued by “influence” more than “control” or exclusivity. In the Shift Age power will increasingly be measured more by influence than control.
My own predictions are more tactical and specific to the operational challenge of managing IP on a daily basis. Examples I see include activity and continued trending related to creation of regional patent assets or de facto proxies; global IP trading across network of exchanges; integrated global patent ratings; sovereign IP management and further fund creation; expanded SEC and accounting based reporting; and, broad based governmental taxation of IP transfers.
Ocean Tomo is increasingly becoming integrated into industry leadership planning sessions with similar meetings scheduled yet this fall in the US, Asia and Latin America. If your next senior strategic review would benefit from an outside perspective, please let me know at email@example.com.