On November 6th, the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) will host the Intellectual Property Awareness Summit (IPAS) at the Chicago-Kent College of Law (CKCL). The conference is the first of its kind which seeks to bring together IP thought leaders from various sectors including business, academia, government and other organizations to address a lack of IP understanding among certain audiences in the realms of copyright, trade secrets, trademarks and patents.
IPAS will include a series of panels and breakout sessions which will be designed to identify what various audiences should be informed of regarding intellectual property rights in the marketplace, including the role of IP rights in investment, job creation and the promotion of competition. The keynote speech, “IP Rights Erosion: A Growing Threat to U.S. Economic Leadership,” will be delivered by David Teece, Director of the Tusher Center for Intellectual Capital Management at UC Berkeley-Haas.
There is undoubtedly a great need for an event like IPAS to occur. “The problem that we’re trying to solve is to try and figure out a way to educate people or create IP awareness to provide a consistent view,” said Brian Hinman, chief IP officer at Royal Philips and CEO of Philips Intellectual Property. Hinman is also a member of the CIPU board. “We’re trying to level the playing field to create a worldwide common understanding and appreciation of IP,” he said.
As Hinman noted, the valuation for and appreciation of intellectual property, especially patents, have taken a downturn in recent years. The 2017 edition of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s IP index ranked the U.S. patent system as 10th, tied with Hungary, and identified key areas of weakness such as the patent opposition system which creates uncertainty over patent rights in this country and a somewhat narrow interpretation of patentability in biotech and computer-related inventions when compared to international standards. This is a situation which hasn’t been helped by mainstream narratives over the weak nature of software patents or the deleterious effects of so-called “patent trolls.” The situation is so bad that Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the chair of the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet, defines all patent plaintiffs as trolls, making himself a patent troll.
One of the IPAS panels in which Hinman will personally participate will seek to find ways of identifying both good and bad behaviors surrounding intellectual property. “One of our major issues at Philips is counterfeiting and design infringement,” he said. “We’re trying to identify folks who are out there copying and ask, ‘Should business or government step up and set an example for IP conduct?’” A separate panel at the event will examine IP theft and the high cost of confusion. Another discussion will focus on the upcoming changes to U.S. accounting practices happening as a result of updated international guidelines coming out next January when International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 15 goes into effect, creating a worldwide standard for reporting licensing revenues which limit companies’ ability to report licensing revenues streams or amortize those revenues over time.
In late August, CIPU announced that it would be partnering with the Michelson 20MM Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on supporting leading edge entrepreneurs and tech initiatives which was founded by prolific medical tech inventor Dr. Gary Michelson. As part of the partnership, the Michelson 20MM Foundation will provide support for the upcoming IPAS event as well as for an upcoming class to be developed for students at the University of Southern California which will teach on intellectual property in an entrepreneurial context. “It makes a lot of sense for CIPU to work with the Michelson Foundation,” Hinman said. “They support nonprofits and startups and use tech to make education more affordable and available. That’s why a lot of what this foundation does runs parallel to what CIPU is trying to do.”
Although Hinman couldn’t say whether CIPU was planning on holding an event such as IPAS on an annual basis, he did note that the organization was planning similar events for the future to be held in American cities to continue promoting a common understanding of intellectual property and touch on different IP topics. CIPU will also be distributing material following the IPAS event to encourage further discussion among a wider audience online.