This passage is excerpted from the Introduction to Venable LLP’s Partner Michael Gollin’s upcoming book Driving Innovation: Intellectual Property Strategies for a Dynamic World (Cambridge University Press 2008), available at The foreword and preface to Driving Innovation were included in the August edition of Venable’s IP News and Comment. An overview of the themes and content of the book will be printed in the next edition.

Intellectual property (IP) is the invisible infrastructure of innovation. Intellectual property rights are a source of hidden wealth worth trillions of dollars, and they impose hidden costs on the same scale. The rules of intellectual property range from confusing to nearly incomprehensible, and they are in constant flux.

Intellectual property surrounds us. Right now, you may be sitting in your office, reading this newsletter as an image on your computer screen, accessed through the Internet, or you may be holding a printout. Intellectual property helped give you these options. For example, the computer embodies decades of continuous innovation. Invisible and hidden within the computer are countless intellectual property rights that serve as the infrastructure of that innovation. The monitor, the hard drive, the keyboard, the printer, and the cabling each are the subject of numerous patents on electronic circuits, materials, and mechanical structures. The software programs used to write this book, edit it, and print it, and make it readable on a computer screen, embody layers of copyrights as well as trade secrets. Different vendors have branded the computer and its components with trademarks (e.g., DELL, INTEL, and SEAGATE). The hardware may be built in Korea, and the software may have been written in India.

Once you start to pay attention, you see that the same invisible infrastructure exists in the clothes you wear, the medicine you take, the books and entertainment you enjoy, your car, your home, the food you eat, and the energy you consume. The blood coursing through your veins may include various patented medicines and nutrients from your last meal – perhaps a breakfast of branded products sold internationally, like CHEERIOS® cereal, DUNKIN’® donuts, and STARBUCKS® coffee. Your clothes, too, bear trademarks – perhaps ARMANI®, if you are wealthy, or a less expensive brand sold at WALMART® – and could have been made by complex computer-driven textile equipment having patented machinery and copyright protected software, or by poor laborers in developing countries using designs created in Europe or the United States.

How did intellectual property – in the modern form of patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and trademarks – arise? How did these rights flow together into the computer on your desk, and into, on, and around your own body? What role does intellectual property play in driving engineers, scientists, and creative talent to generate such remarkable innovations? How does intellectual property serve as a social force that drives and nurtures creativity, or blocks its benefits, in so many spheres?

Intellectual property remains a “black art,” understood by few while influencing many. To shed light on that dark topic, this book provides a dynamic view of intellectual property – how it arises, grows, and flows, how it shapes global society, and how society shapes it over time. This book is directed to people who want to learn how intellectual property shapes our world, to understand the controversies over intellectual property, and more importantly to use their knowledge to help them meet their own goals.

All of us – creative individuals, inventors, authors, business people, and curious people everywhere, in corporations, academia, nongovernmental organizations, and government agencies, in rich and poor countries – can learn the fundamental concepts, dynamics, and strategies of intellectual property. We can apply this understanding to find new meaning in our surroundings, and new strategies that will best help us achieve our goals.

Globalization, innovation, and good leadership are universally recognized as driving forces in society, given the accelerating pace of technological change; the rise of a “knowledge economy;” the tightening interdependence of markets, technology, and culture; and the growing disparity between global haves and have-nots. It should be selfevident that intellectual property is a key to understanding the dynamics of global innovation, but it has not received the comprehensive attention it deserves. Instead, most books about intellectual property are written narrowly for a specialized audience.

The lack of broad attention to intellectual property’s central role in innovation may derive from the extreme legal, economic, and technical complexity of the topic, and a lack of education about its fundamental concepts. A shared global conceptual framework would help innovators, authors, readers, and ultimately society. Business people, management experts, and lawyers could avoid costly mistakes. Economists, academics, policy makers, and lobbyists could reconsider unhelpful simplistic polarized positions opposed to or in favor of the present system, and instead present more practical suggestions. If these people could gain an understanding of the duality of intellectual property and its role in driving the innovation cycle, society would benefit, and so would they.

This book begins to fill that gap by providing a brief but comprehensive account of the fundamental IP concepts and dynamics that apply broadly to all communities throughout the world – including industry, nonprofit institutions, and developing countries. Surprisingly, despite the excruciating complexity of the field, people can quickly learn the basic tools they need to understand what intellectual property is, why it is important in their lives, and how they can use this knowledge to further their own pursuits, or just to become better informed citizens.

The audience for this book includes anyone interested in innovation, and how intellectual property encourages, channels (or stifles), and puts innovation to work. That includes innovators and people who work with innovation – lawyers, business people, academics, and policy makers, in rich and poor countries, whether or not they have any experience with intellectual property, and regardless of their nationality and profession. It includes practitioners concerned with entrepreneurship, scientific research, technical and cultural innovation, and other creative endeavors around the world, as well as academics and policy analysts concerned with innovation and globalization. It also includes business students and business people in all industries (publishing, biotechnology, computer science, manufacturing, finance, entertainment, and service industries), and a broader range of academics, government officials, intellectual property and business lawyers, law students, nonprofit entrepreneurs, history buffs, and more.