The Changing Face of Innovation

The reason that the IP Observers website is here is in part to promote change, particular a change in the view people have of IP.  The role and importance of IP to all of us is steadily increasing, whether we are aware of it in our daily lives or not.   Now there is no need to take the word of The IP Observers, the UN agency responsible for IP, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has just published its annual report detailing how we are all using IP more and more.
The World Intellectual Property Report 2011- The Changing Face of Innovation reports  how IP  has become central to the strategies of innovating firms.  Some big number are given for growth in patent activity: rising from 800,000 applications annually worldwide applications in the early 1980s to 1.8 million in 2009., and the Report concludes that growing investments in innovation and the globalization of economic activities are key drivers of this trend.
The WIPO Director General Francis Gurry notes that “innovation growth is no longer the prerogative of high-income countries alone; the technological gap between richer and poorer countries is narrowing. Incremental and more local forms of innovation contribute to economic and social development, on a par with world-class technological innovations.”
The Report points to a number of implications of the growing demand for IP rights:
  • Knowledge markets based on IP rights are on the rise.
  • Patenting has grown especially fast for so-called complex technologies
  • Some complex technology industries – notably, telecommunications, software, audiovisual technology, optics and, more recently, smartphones and tablet computers – have seen firms strategically build up large patent portfolios.
  • Patent institutions have become a cornerstone of successful innovation systems.
  • Many countries have put in place policies to harness public research for innovation.
The WIPO report is influential and will be on the reading list of governments and IP thought leaders around the world.  In the coming weeks The IP Observers will look into the themes, issues and conclusions of the WIPO annual report. Your chance to get insights into the insights of WIPO.