The perplexing future of intellectual property

By Thomas Frey via   Article

“Every person is radiating information every hour of every day. Just as the information we mentally emit can be logged and constitute the basis for a copyright or invention, the information we physically emit has value.

Tiny bits of human intelligence go into every online search, transaction and ad click. This information is so valuable that once fed into a preference engine, a full one third of all Amazon sales come from ‘other recommended’ products.

Material information about what we eat, our physical activities and even the people we hang out with can be hugely valuable to insurance companies, online retailers, healthcare providers, and ad placement services. Should the value of our physical information be automatically assigned to us or those who collect the information?

Both personal and intellectual property is getting harder to define, manage and control. It is in this perplexing quandary of rights and ownership that we begin this column.

Intellectual Property and Ownership Issues Bubbling to the Surface

Future IP issues will be focused on ownership, privacy, and freedoms as legal systems attempt to reimagine themselves with entirely new technologies that fit poorly into the existing frameworks. …

Over the coming years we’ll have to wrestle with the changing nature of ‘property.’

  • Accelerating Timelines – The half-life of most products today can be measured in months not years. In the future it may even be reduced to days and perhaps even hours.
  • Digitalization leads to Dematerialization – At what point does less material constitute a new innovation?
  • Innovation is being Parsed into Far Smaller Pieces – Innovation today can be as small as a single emoticon, hash tag, or idea. Tomorrow, perhaps a single byte.
  • Shrinking Timeframe of Value – In the past, most of the value of a patent was derived in the last few years of its term. With digital technology it tends to come with first mover advantage up until advanced competitors arrive.
  • Shift from Ownership to License Holders – In a sharing economy, ownership becomes far less valuable than the right to distribute, the right to sell, and the right use. As example, Uber owns no vehicles, Facebook creates no content, Alibaba has no inventory, Airbnb owns no real estate. Will this growing mirage of ownership require a different kind of license?”

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