Creating Value from Intellectual Property

We live and work in an increasingly knowledge-based economy. Much of what people produce and consume has no tangible manifestation. Even when it does, the thing that makes that good most valuable and unique – the innovation that sets it apart – does not.

As companies increasingly compete on innovation, and as we continue to digitize everything (IDC predicts we will generate close to 1,000 exabytes of data by 2010) – as that happens, our ability to understand, leverage and protect our intellectual assets is core to the health of our organizations and our economy.

Last month I moderated a panel on The New IP Economy at a meeting of the Executive Council of New York. The discussion took the assumption that at least some portion of that 1,000 exabytes of data is not only materially valuable; it also can and should be accorded property status so it can be valued, leveraged and protected appropriately. (Note: there’s a patent or copyright lawyer in your future if not your present.) We talked about the current state of IP; opportunities and risks; organizational implications, and where things are headed.

The panelists were extremely knowledgeable and brought an eclectic mix of views to the topic. They included Robert Cote, a nationally recognized patent litigator and trial lawyer who is a partner in law firm Orrick's IP litigation group and chair of their software group, and Marshall Phelps, who heads Microsoft's intellectual property groups and oversees the company's management of its intellectual property portfolio (which comprises some 20,000 patents worldwide) and who previously did similar work at IBM.

David Kuttler, vice president of information management architecture in the office of the CIO at Johnson & Johnson, brought an executive management view of leveraging and protecting IP – a view that was shared by Jack Nelson, senior vice president and CIO at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Finally, J. Moses, co-founder and CEO of UGO Networks, an online entertainment network for men age 18 to 34, is more concerned about copyright protection than patents. As other sites have built business models around “user-generated content,” he made the strategic decision not to allow users to upload content to his site. Given last month’s announcement of Viacom’s $1 billion suit of YouTube for copyright infringement, that’s looking like a pretty savvy move.

What Is the New IP Economy?

I launched the

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