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Business - Written by on Friday, January 19, 2007 17:30 - 2 Comments

Reinventing the invention system

Having worked with some of the strategy and intellectual property folks at IBM over the past few years I’ve come to regard them as some of the most progressive and thoughtful people on the planet when it comes to rethinking the nature of intellectual property system and fixing the ailing patent system. IBM recently launched a site called Reinventing the Invention System that collects some of their latest thinking on intellectual property. It’s well worth taking a look at if you care about the future of invention and innovation.

Among other things, look out for the “peer to patent” initiative that was developed an external collaborator Beth Noveck. In a nutshell, Noveck’s thought up a way to apply the “wisdom of crowds” to the patent review process in a bid to boost patent quality. You may also want to check out IBM’s IP manifesto, Building a New IP Marketplace. This document was developed in collaboration with 50 world leading IP experts who spent a few days sharing ideas on a wiki. The manifesto brings together many thoughtful recommendations that, if implemented, would go a long way toward fixing some of the perversities of the patent system.

Here’s an excerpt:

A knowledge-based economy depends upon innovation around products of the mind or intellect. Thus, capturing value from intellectual capital and knowledge-based assets is critical to success. Competition is not for control of raw materials, but for the most dynamic strategic asset:“productive knowledge.” Finding ways to help innovators with this increasingly important practice has become an explicit agenda for many governments.

Historically, the economic activity generated by the exchange and valuation of physical goods has been supported by functioning marketplaces that provide transparency of ownership, integrity that creates a stable environment, and mechanisms that enable valuation based on the principles of an open market.

As economic focus shifts from physical goods to intangible assets in the 21st century, many agree an analogous supporting marketplace needs to be developed. This new system must abide by the same principles of certainty and trust that are found in any flourishing marketplace, while accommodating the unique attributes of knowledge-based assets and dynamics of the intellectual property market.


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Lesa Mitchell
Feb 6, 2007 16:50

I very much agree with what IBM is trying to do here. We all know the university-induustry link is broken and a key component of our innovation “system”. We must focus away from IP, toward collaboration and increasing the volume of deal flow.

Tom Kruer
Feb 18, 2007 7:41


I contend that the entire IP “system” is broken…not just in university Technology Transfer, but also in the business world. The best ideas are not being commercialized nearly as quickly as the market is asking for them. Too much “baggage” from the late 1800′s corporte model.

It is time for a change. It is time to apply some of the precepts of this book in totally new ways. It is my opinion that IBM is heading in the right direction but will quickly be leap-frogged by more advanced thinking and organizations/collaborations with less “baggage.”

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