Thursday, December 18, 2008

Innovation Will Overcome Recession - Is Your IP Department Prepared?

Ron Carson
Vice President of Marketing
Innovation Asset Group

There is a lot of negative press about the economy. Too much. In addition to not reading the statements from my investment accounts, I may soon have to give up reading the news as well. Enough with the doom & gloom. It is time to look forward to, prepare for, and take action to bring about a prosperous future. Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to admire the quote from a radio talk show host here in the U.S. It went something like this: "I refuse to participate in this recession." While financial reality for many of us is likely different than its for a multi-millionaire, nationally syndicated radio talk show host, I admire the sentiment.

The Glass is Half-Full
There is a great article from the Washington Post entitled: 5 Myths About Our Sputtering Economy. It reads: "For months now, the nation's economic obituary has been splashed across the front pages of nearly every newspaper in the country. Journalists and pundits alike have warned that America's long-running global dominance has come to a screeching halt, eclipsed by growing markets in such places as China and India and frittered away by our own mismanagement, excesses and myopic approach to the future. We're long past due for a reality check. The United States and the incoming Obama administration face formidable challenges, but the country is by no means on its last legs. Here are a few key myths that need to be dispelled."

Further, it is not as though we're all idly standing by waiting for the next piece of the economic sky to fall. There are stimulus packages already in place and even more on the way to help jump start the economy. There is an interesting piece in BusinessWeek called “The Innovation Economy.” It describes how the incoming administration should build the innovation economy by focusing on entrepreneurship, innovation, and creativity.

"The Obama Administration should ignite new company formation as the vehicle to create tens of millions of new jobs. These new businesses should take on the nation's greatest challenges in renewable energy and the environment, health care, education, transportation, and global peace." The article goes on to spell out a series of seven steps to help spur innovation.

The Europeans Aren't Standing Still
While those of us in the U.S. wait for the new administration to take office, the European Union isn't waiting around to see what the U.S. does to recover. The European Commission is proposing a coordinated response to the EU’s deepening economic crisis. The Commission is proposing €200bn in measures to boost purchasing power and generate growth and jobs. The Europeans are seizing this as an opportunity to shore up their innovation infrastructure and global competitiveness in a knowledge economy. "By jumpstarting the economy with investment in infrastructure, green technology, energy efficiency and innovation, the package aims to accelerate the transition to a knowledge-based, low-carbon society. It encourages more partnerships between government and business."

Several EU countries (including the UK, France and Germany) have already announced their own stimulus packages. The commission is now calling on all nations to follow suit, under an umbrella of European coordination. Governments would spend this money in the way best suited to their own economy as different countries face different challenges. Similar economic stimulus packages are being considered or implemented in most developed nations around the world.

This Too Shall Pass
The stimulus packages in the U.S., the European Union and in other countries just may provide the elusive economic catalyst we are all hoping will kick in soon. There is a great piece at that describes how this is likely to happen -- how we will collectively make it happen.

"As long as human beings attempt to better themselves and improve standards of living, and as long as policymakers don't compound problems, the natural course of growth will return."

And for the IP Professionals
And finally, on a topic that hits a little closer to home for most readers of our newsletter and blog, here is a great post by Tryon Stading at Innography. According to his research: US patent filing and IP litigation markets have experienced significant growth during recessions. The flip side of this increase is that companies may be facing increasing litigation costs as they defend their products and market positions. I guess either way, IP professionals have a good chance of being kept busy through the recession and subsequent recovery!

So What Are You Doing About it?
The recession will not last. The innovative spirit of people everywhere will eventually lead us to the next profitable market cycle. Where there is innovation there is IP. Now is a good time to look within your company to determine what you can do today to be better positioned in the future. Are you still capturing all of the new patentable ideas within you company, or are you cutting back in that area? Are you cutting back on patent filings? What are you doing to ensure you are filing the most business-critical patents? Are you trying to offset costs by licensing non-core patents? Although your corporate budgeting process may not agree with this sentiment, now is not the time to be haphazardly trimming expenses around your IP portfolio. Now is the time to be smart with your IP, and to tightly align it with the growth strategies of your business.

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