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WIPF2022: A different mindset for emerging technologies and intellectual property.

October 16, 2022 Leave a comment

As promised, this is a summary post with my top 5 takeaways from the recent World IP Forum 2022 conference I attended in Bangkok, Thailand. 

WIPF2022

What a pleasure it was to meet, mingle and exchange ideas with a global cast of IP professionals across three days of wall-to-wall conversations, panels and presentations by experts in the legal profession, international business and government agencies. Kudos to the organisers, especially Navi Agarwal and Jeet Agarwal for a fantastic show with a truly international worldview.

Top five learnings and takeaways from WIPF2022 Bangkok:

  1. Patents are huge – the level of interest and discourse around patents reflect, in my opinion, their powerful potential to play a major role in redefining the IP landscape for a fast emerging world of tomorrow.
  2. DABUS (AI owned patents) – this is really doing the rounds as a bell weather case that shows up constraints and limitations of current legal frameworks, expert understanding and jurisdictional perspectives on emerging technologies and IP. 
  3. AI and Personhood – exhaustive discussions on why AI can’t be recognised as author / owner of IP. This is mainly down to AI not being considered a natural person – a key requirement for IP ownership in many places. I wonder if and when that is likely to change with more DABUS-like cases sure to come along.
  4. Rise of the techno-lawyers – By the way, it seems I’m encountering more and more legal professionals with a technical background – this is a most interesting trend, and has left me thinking perhaps I ought to study IP law too – hmmm!
  5. Still early days – And still lots of room to explore, understand and adapt emerging technologies and impact. Call to Action: read up and research AI, Blockchain and other emerging technologies because in 5 years or less they’ll impact your practice. 

My conclusion – It’ll require a different mindset to harness opportunities and/or tackle challenges presented by emerging technologies and intellectual property. For example, one of the most insightful questions I heard on the Metaverse panel was: …why use web2 rules for web3 worlds – i.e. how and why are we trying to figure out the rules of metaverse using only real world legal systems and lawyers? …Duh!

My panel presentation on emerging technologies and the future of content & IP is centred on this last point, as I introduced a three-point framework for looking at future state systems and how they might apply to IP considerations.  More to come on this topic so watch this space!

Intellectual Property and Emerging Technologies

October 9, 2022 Leave a comment

A new course certificate – Yes, another one. There’s a theme here…

MIT Sloan – Short course on blockckchain for business innovation

I must say this one was particularly challenging, but even more rewarding, as it helped reshape and validate my notion that no single one of these ’game changer’ technologies can match over-hyped expectations all by themselves. Instead, and perhaps obviously, it’ll take certain combinations and mashups of two or more of these technologies to create the right value propositions for robust, real-world applications that can finally meet and / or exceed current expectations.

As a result, I remain steadfast in my conviction, and even doubling down my commitment to stay at the sharp end of emerging technology and the impact on society, businesses and individuals.

For example, I’m excited to be on a panel discussing Emerging Technology and Intellectual Property at the World IP Forum 2022 event taking place on 10th-12th October, in Bangkok Thailand. I will be talking about the role of emerging technologies and the next phase of digital content and rights management. Intellectual Property, such as Copyright, must evolve to keep pace with new technologies and novel uses of the works they’re designed to protect, (in both physical and digital realms, as well as in the spaces between them).

From past experience, events such as these offer great opportunities to share and learn from others, as well as networking with speakers, moderators and attendees. It’s great to be back on the circuit, and and I may do a summary post following the event, or perhaps even a podcast as Gen Z folks supposedly demand.

Are NFTs the future of digital IP and the creative world, or just a remix of DRM and all its woes? (Part 5)

February 14, 2022 4 comments

This is last in a series of posts to share some observations, opinions and conclusions on this intriguing technology which sits squarely at the intersection of digital, creativity and intellectual property. The topic is broken down into the following parts:

  1. What are NFTs (and the non-fungibility superpower)?
  2. What has this got to do with Intellectual Property (and content protection)?
  3. Does it mean that NFTs are like DRM remixed?
  4. How does it affect the creative industry today and in the future?
  5. Summary observations and conclusions.
Read more…

Are NFTs the future of digital IP and the creative world, or just a remix of DRM and all its woes? (Part 4)

February 6, 2022 4 comments

This is fourth in a series of posts to share some observations, opinions and conclusions from playing with this intriguing technology that sits squarely at the intersection of: digital technology, creative content and intellectual property. The topic is broken down into the following parts:

  1. What are NFTs (and the non-fungibility superpower)?
  2. What has this got to do with Intellectual Property (and content protection)?
  3. Does it mean that NFTs are like DRM remixed?
  4. How does it affect the creative industry today and in the future?
  5. Summary observations and conclusions.
Read more…

Are NFTs the future of digital IP and the creative world, or just a remix of DRM and all its woes? (Part 3)

February 5, 2022 4 comments

This is third in a series of posts to share some observations, opinions and conclusions from playing with this intriguing technology that sits squarely at the intersection of digital technology, creative content and intellectual property. The topic is broken down into the following parts:

  1. What are NFTs (and the non-fungibility superpower)?
  2. What has this got to do with Intellectual Property (and content protection)?
  3. Does it mean that NFTs are like DRM remixed?
  4. How does it affect the creative industry today and in the future?
  5. Summary observations and conclusions.
Read more…

Are NFTs the future of digital IP and the creative world, or just a remix of DRM and all its woes? (Part 2)

January 23, 2022 4 comments

This is second in a series of posts I drafted to share some observations, opinions and conclusions from playing with this intriguing technology that sits squarely at the intersection of: creative content, digital tech and intellectual property. The topic is broken down into the following parts:

  1. What are NFTs (and the non-fungibility superpower)?
  2. What has this got to do with Intellectual Property (and content protection)?
  3. Does it mean that NFTs are like DRM remixed?
  4. How does it affect the creative industry today and in the future?
  5. Summary observations and conclusions.
Read more…

Are NFTs the future of digital IP and the creative world, or just a remix of DRM and all its woes? (Part 1)

January 15, 2022 4 comments

To be perfectly frank, I consider it an evolution of the same thing, TLAs not withstanding (pls. see glossary at the end). Intellectual Property (or IP), that most artificial and enforceable economic right, is becoming somewhat sexified by Web3 technologies and new opportunities for decentralisation. So what does that mean for the future of creative industries?

Read more…

Copyright, Blockchain, Technology and the State of Digital Piracy

January 15, 2017 Leave a comment
The next installment of one of my favourite conferences on copyright and technology is right around the corner, on January 24th in NYC, and as usual it promises some interesting: debate, controversy and hot-off-the-press insights into the murky world of copyright business, technology, and legislation. Plus, this year, it also features a panel on the game changing technology of blockchain and its myriad disruptive applications across entire industries, including copyright and the creative industries.

Thankfully, the inclusion of this panel session recognises the never-ending role of new and innovative technologies in shaping the evolution of Copyright. Ever since that first mass copy technology (i.e. the printing press) raised questions of rights ownership, and due recompense for works of the mind, new technologies for replicating and sharing creative content have driven the wheel of evolution in this area. Attendees will doubtless benefit from the insight and expertise of this panel of speakers as well as moderator and Program Chair, Bill Rosenblatt, who questioned (in a recent blog post), the practicality, relevance and usefulness of blockchain in a B2C context for copyright. You are in for a treat.

This is a very exciting period of wholesale digital transformation, and as I mentioned once or twice in previous articles and blog-posts, the game is only just beginning for potential applications of: blockchain, crypto currencies, smart licences and sundry trust mechanisms in the digital domain. In an age of ubiquitous content and digital access, the focus of copyright is rightfully shifting away from copying and moving towards the actual usage of digital content, which brings added complexity to an already complex and subjective topic. It is far too early to tell if blockchain can provide a comprehensive answer to this challenge.

The Copyright and Technology conference series have never failed to provide some thought-provoking insights and debates driven by expert speakers across multiple industries. In fact, I reconnected recently with a couple of previous speakers: Dominic Young and Chris Elkins, who are both still pretty active, informed and involved in the copyright and technology agenda. Dominic, ex-CEO of the UK’s Digital Catapault, is currently working on a hush hush project that will potentially transform the B2C transaction space. Chris is co-founder Muso, a digital anti-piracy organisation which has successfully secured additional funding to expand its global footprint with innovative approaches to anti-piracy. For example, if you ever wondered which countries are most active in media piracy, then look no further than Muso’s big data based state of digital piracy reports. Don’t say I never tell you anything.

In any case, I look forward to hearing attendees impressions on the Copyright and Technology 2017 conference, which I’m unable to attend / participate this timme unfortunately. In the meantime, I’ll continue to spend my spare time, or whatever brain capacity I have left, with pro-bono activities that allow me to: meet, mentor / coach and advise some amazing startups on the dynamic intersection of IP, business and technology. More on that in another post.

Intellectual Property for Start-Ups

October 28, 2016 Leave a comment

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to participate, as chair & speaker, at a BCS Entrepreneurs event discussing the role and value of Intellectual Property for start-ups and entrepreneurs. As you might imagine this was a well attended event with so many different questions foremost on the minds of various attendees.

Given the focus on my favourite topics of IP and entrepreneurship, it didn’t take much persuasion for me to sign-up and chair the event. Furthermore, I was in the company of two legal experts on: EU IP law (Jonathan Exell, from William Powells) and employment law (Bob Fahy, from Veale Wasbrough Vizards) respectively. Also the attendees were certainly not shy to engage and they took some delight in systematically dissecting the trickier aspects of entrepreneurship and the start-up vs. IP challenge in a changing landscape. 

As introduction and kickoff, I provided a quick overview of some of those key challenges facing startups with respect to IP. This was mainly based on a previous post and article I’d written and published about this same topic. 

The first speaker followed through with a thorough recap of the legal position on IP particularly with regard to the EU and Brexit. Key message: it’ll likely be business as usual for IP in post Brexit UK, at least in the near term. Also, it is highly unlikely that the UK will deviate too radically from the increasingly aligned position on IP  which most of the world enjoy today.

The second legal perspective provided some insights on key challenges and opportunities facing anyone trying to manage the IP risks and issues associated with employees, disgruntled or otherwise. Here the lines become somewhat blurred between contract vs. employment vs. IP laws. It was interesting to observe the number of questions relating to how founders should approach the challenge of establishing who has what IP (and / or portions thereof) when their start-up fails, flounders, or even flourishes!

To say this event was informative and enlightening would be an understatement because the second part of the seminar consisted of 1-to-1 mentorship sessions, with experienced BCS mentors exploring attendees individual circumstances in order to provide specific guidance based on the topic at hand. Pure value delivered, if you ask me. As an exercise in giving back, I can think of no better way to spend an evening than by learning, interacting and exploring various start-up IP challenges with enthusiastic entrepreneurs, mentors and experts from within and outside of the BCS.

One thing I love about my work is how it affords me unfettered opportunity to give back, by providing dedicated time (and a measurable objective) to undertake pro bono activities, such as this one, which is aimed at helping others in need of expertise or guidance for projects, worthy causes or personal development. Pure Ohana!

The Tech Start-Up’s IP Dilemma

September 4, 2016 Leave a comment
When it comes to tech entrepreneurship, a good Intellectual Property (IP) strategy will often play a critical role in the difference between unbridled success versus failure-inducing infringement lawsuits. How should technology entrepreneurs and start-ups approach the difficult task of balancing IP protection vs. commercialization considerations in the dynamic, financial and geo-political landscape of today?

In the face of recent global financial meltdowns, migrant refugee crises, global terrorism and regional upheavals (e.g. BREXIT), things may become exponentially more complicated. In terms of IP, the key question for many high-growth start-ups is how to negotiate the daunting landscape of protocol, jurisdiction and regulatory compliance requirements for each new market that they penetrate.

3 key factors, in my opinion, need to be taken into consideration when attempting to address these particular challenges as follows:

Pay to play – The digital world has ushered in a shift from transactions to a more interaction based economy. According to Constellation Research Principal, Andy Mulholland, three distinct types of time-zone based interactions can be recognized in this new environment. They comprise of: reflex interactions (e.g. autonomous machine to machine interactions); service based interactions (i.e. multiple, coordinated services interacting to deliver value to customers / subscribers / end-users); and finally, cognitive interactions (delivering enhanced value as part of a ‘smart’ system and ecosystem).

Changing of the Guard – IP is a moveable feast, and sooner or later any proponent of “free-to-use” IP soon become vigorous advocates of IP protection once they start producing their own. Nations that were once net consumers of IP, with scant regard for anti-piracy measures, will often become rabid defenders of international IP laws when they start producing more IP than they consume. The same applies to start-ups who initially think nothing of appropriating other people’s IP in other to create or enhance their own products / services, but then go on to spend oodles of funding money with top IP lawyers to protect or defend their IP as they mature.

Caring, sharing, gig economy – The last point is very much about the real cost of freedom and flexibility. The so called “Gig economy”, which offers short term roles for hordes of contingent workers (aka ‘micro entrepreneurs’), has been popularised by the likes of Uber, Airbnb and Deliveroo, because they promise a greater degree of freedom and flexibility than traditional employer / employees models. The new gig economy players typically provide a platform for exchanging goods and services, but sometimes this can verge on the traditional ’employee’  domain, (e.g. wearing uniforms with the platform providers logo), instead of an independent provider. This blurring of lines could be interpreted by many as an attempt by platform operators to have their cake and eat it, and this has contributed to the recent spate of high profile law suites and demonstrations by irate contingent workers. Such disruptive business practices bring to mind the threat posed to traditional content industries by file sharing platforms such as: Naptster, Grokster, Pirate Bay and Megaupload, who all got sued to smithereens. The sad thing is that such repercussions, if unchecked, can serve to dampen the innovative vigour of said ‘gig economy’ platform operators. A middle ground must be found where it will be possible to explore the frontiers of the new gig economy without trampling over the rights of its participants. The promise of freedom and flexibility alone may not be worth the pixels through which it is displayed.

In conclusion, when it comes to startup entrepreneurship in today’s world, it takes a certain level of awareness to negotiate the myriad challenges facing new innovative / disruptive entrants to most markets. One of the key criteria for success, (in addition to having the right ideas, resources, team and opportunity / timing), is the presence of a good strategy for intellectual property and how it can be employed to the benefit of the organisation. It is no accident that California USA, with its high concentration of IP based industries, is the 6th largest economy in the world, therefore it goes without saying how important it is for startups to identify and protect any IP assets, right from the start.

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Disclosure: The above post is derived from a soon-to-be-published article in the next edition of BCS Digital Leaders newsletter. Also the topic of start ups and IP will be the focus of the next BCS Entrepreneurs speed mentoring event which I’ll be chairing in the next few weeks.