Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Intellectual Property Management to Preserve National Economic Vitality

I came across this thought provoking article entitled “Coming Soon: A Post-American World.” It discusses the spectacle of the Beijing Olympics as a signal to the world that China is becoming more than just an industrial powerhouse, but a technological and innovation powerhouse as well. (The underlying message to the rest of the world: You’d better Get your Assets in Gear (tm)!)

The article starts off: “They're putting the world on notice, that they are players playing to win, and not just Olympic gold. They want you to know that China is a power to be reckoned with, and proud of it, that it's bearing down on the United States … fast”

It goes on to say that the size of the Chinese economy will surpass the United States by 2035. What is important to note, is that this growth is not simply from the growth of low-cost, labor intensive jobs outsourced from the U.S.; but this growth is going to come from technological advances, innovation and even brands.

The article continues:

“Take the iPhone. The idea, the genius, was American. But the phones themselves are made in China, where the government is determined that the next generation of geniuses will be Chinese.

"Actually, that's a stated national policy. They have a medium- and long-term science and technology policy, 2006-2020, and in that policy one of the statements, one of the parts is to establish global brands, with indigenous technology, with Chinese technology behind those brands." “

Furthermore, Chinese companies absolutely understand the importance of IP. Take the following quote in the article from the CEO of Chinese-owned Haier (which is trying to buy GE's appliance division by the way):

innovation and having its own patents is the "life blood" for Haier. Haier applies for two patents every single day, every day of the year. In fact, it's more than that."

I suppose as vendor of IP Management software, I’m somewhat biased in my opinions about the importance of strategic IP management. But after reading this article – especially the quote about innovation and patents being the lifeblood of one of the largest Chinese consumer appliance manufacturers – I am surprised by the number of companies I talk to who still equate IP management with docketing, annuity payments and cost containment. It really is time to get our collective Assets in Gear!