As technology continues to alter and change the very fabric of how we live and work, it is clear that almost every industry is set to be (or already being) disrupted by innovation. The importance of intellectual property (IP) rights in technology should be obvious. Ideas are often seen to be the currency of the 21st century, yet it is the ability to protect them that gives them their value.
Our recent survey and report Swipe Right: Smart choices in disruptive times reveals the importance of IP is being ignored in the boardroom. With disruptive technology creating a more complex legal environment for businesses, only 45% of companies discussing IP regularly at board level is deeply worrying.
Why is IP so important?
IP protection is significant in an economy disrupted by technology as it can be the difference between risk and reward for businesses. Patents, trademarks, copyrights and designs are all gaining increasing significance alongside a dramatic rise in other types of IP protection such as trade secrets and non-disclosure agreements. Managing IP effectively will ensure protection for your ideas while also offering the opportunity of monetizing them.
In a previous article, we discussed how IP strategy and what management can learn from the disruptors that are entering their markets. Our report highlights that it is critical for a successful IP strategy to involve the whole business. It should always be seen as more than just a 'legal' issue as it pervades multiple different departments including HR, marketing and research and development, even if it is not always obvious how.
Planning ahead with an IP strategy
Delving into the disruptors themselves, we discovered they are showing little sign of disappearing and as such, savvy companies may want to act now to get a head start. Our research showed that in many cases businesses are overlooking their short-term plans in favour of the long-term, with 72% of those surveyed stating they had five-to-ten year plans in place yet only 22% had one-to-two year IP strategies.
Strategies need to reflect the rolling, churning nature of the situation and with technology changing the landscape so quickly it's essential that short-term strategies are put in place to make sure businesses keep up.
Understanding the importance of registering IP in China
A relative newcomer to IP, China's domestic market is now the fastest-growing in the world, outpacing the US and Europe in patent filings and rapidly improving its courts and enforcement. Yet despite flagging China as a key market, only 34% of our respondents' portfolios include filings made in China.
Businesses wanting to capitalise on innovation using IP strategies and avoid risk need to be considering the jurisdiction as an essential part of their plans. Chinese innovators like Huawei are challenging the US tech sector domination, while the country's huge investment in physics, life sciences, and AI makes it only a matter of time before it takes over almost all key technology fields.