The digital transformation changes every aspect of our lives, and this does not only have an impact on IP itself, but also the ways how companies and individuals using and filing IP behave and interact with each other. The impact can be categorized in three broad groups:
- The object protected by IP changes. Objects are becoming more digital and intangible, and this requires a different approach to decide, what a business should protect exactly.
- The way how IP is used changes. IP is used less for the pure protection of a product and more to invite collaboration on open platforms and licensing.
- The way how companies and IP experts interact changes. IP experts are asked by clients more and more to offer additional and more digital services in addition to prosecution.
1. The object protected by IP changes:
The objects that are to be protected by IP are becoming increasingly digital. And the effect that such IP is supposed to have from an economic point of view is increasingly being achieved in digital business models. Here is an example of digital patent impacts in digital business models: https://ipbusinessacademy.org/digital-patent-impacts-in-digital-business-models
Here is an example for the digitalization of a traditional brand – Hangrohe RainTunes: https://ipbusinessacademy.org/ip-design-as-agile-method-for-digitizing-a-traditional-brand-hansgrohe-raintunes
This digitalization means that, from the customer’s point of view, more and more customer benefits are realized through digital offerings. Products are increasingly becoming virtual objects such as apps. Business models are no longer aimed at isolated transactions, such as the sale of objects or services, but are increasingly based on lasting relationships. More and more physical products are disappearing and being replaced by apps on smartphones, laptop computers or other edge devices. To this extent, the centre of value creation is also shifting away from hardware components to digital, software-based solutions.
More and more the metaverse is growing from a futuristic theoretical concept to an established and actively used reality. Several major brands have already decided to enter the space and are likely to significantly impact the way web3 develops in the future. The metaverse is not a single virtual world made by one company. No, it’s everything together: Virtual worlds, digital environments, and decentralized services. Users can have one identity and use it across all locations, meaning that you can use the same profile, avatar, and wallet in multiple worlds and for multiple services. From high-end luxury fashion to fast food, there is something in the metaverse for all kinds of businesses across many industries. Brands are realizing the immense potential of revenue from digital goods and brand exposure with younger generations. Here is an overview about IP and the metaverse: https://ipbusinessacademy.org/ip-and-the-metaverse
This change in the object of protection also changes the target group of people who are affected by IP and who, to that extent, also deal with IP. IP awareness has to be reached by many more people and it is mainly people who have digital work content, from software developers to web marketing experts.
2. The way how IP is used changes
In a digitally transformed business environment IP becomes increasingly to a form of bridges to enable cooperative work within business eco-systems and less barricades against imitation. IP is a way to build and share creations of the mind like inventions, designs, logos, songs and images. Here is an example how Lego is using IP within their eco-system: https://ipbusinessacademy.org/did-they-really-patent-this-use-case-example-the-lego-eco-system
“Competitors become partners”, is a phenomenon that can be observed in more and more business eco-systems. The digital transformation of eco-systems is the trigger for the breaking up of historically grown and well-established competitive structures and industry boundaries. The digitalization – especially the connectivity – of products enables these actors to offer digitally supported services for their originally physical products. In addition to the new product-service offers created by networking, there are also opportunities for other companies. Cross-industry and interdisciplinary collaborations are taking advantage of these new eco-system players to gain value and market shares with their own, innovative (often disruptive) offers. The new industry comrades-in-arms often do not come from traditional industry, but are part of the “New Economy”. Equipped with considerable software and IT competence, they can define their own range of services without time-consuming and resource-intensive investments in manufacturing infrastructure and the development of physical products. Not only is the value-added share shifting more and more in favour of software and services, these immaterial service offers can also be developed, modified and extremely scaled comparatively quickly to the respective situation.
3. The way how companies and IP experts interact changes.
A current study shows, how IP work is changing: https://ipbusinessacademy.org/ip-trend-survey-managing-ip-in-the-digital-age
It is more important than ever to communicate and demonstrate the value of IP within companies and to companies. While there is broad consensus among respondents about the importance of IP to economic recovery, there is also a clear concern about the attendant complications. Asked to identify which areas of work in IP are most challenging, respondents chose from a range of answers, with no particular standout trend emerging. The most popular selection was “justifying the expenses allocated to IP” (checked by 38%), followed by “promoting the importance of IP within my organization” (37%). These responses highlight the difficulty of expanding an understanding of IP to clients and others within the business.
The pandemic has greatly changed the IP work virtually overnight. People are now returning to their offices (at least partially), but to retain top talent, more flexibility in the way we work is essential. How can IP managers and team leaders offer more flexibility while ensuring that engagement, productivity, and IP awareness increase?
There are many things to consider: Leadership and teamwork in virtual or hybrid settings with inventors and creative sources, digital workflows and IT tools, IT and data security in the home office, a basic IP awareness and shared understanding of the new way of working with IP, and broad support from IP managers and teams. But IP awareness is not achieved under the new work conditions by the IP department announcing messages one directionally like a radio station.
People today are increasingly accustomed, e.g. through social media (Web 2.0), that they are not only recipients of messages, but are involved in interactive communication. It is particularly important that the communication is at the right time for the recipient (timing), that it is of value (relevance), and that the wording and visualization are appropriate and easy to understand.
Effective awareness building in and for company representatives today use efficient, algorithmic methods to obtain relevant information and make it available to the target group. An IP management content portal helps to make highly relevant information available to target groups at the right time, thereby enabling effective agenda setting with the target group with comparatively little effort. In this way, feedback loops are created to ensure that the target groups are aware of the respective IP topics and requirements of their activities and tasks and can implement them appropriately. The IP experts in the company can be available as highly qualified contact partners and can be consulted by the target groups in an appropriate manner.
As in other areas of digital marketing (search engines, music or video recommendations, retail, etc.), modern IP awareness processes make it possible to provide targeted and effective information for the target group and to enter into lasting and sustainable communication with them, thus overcoming the negative effects of “new work” and using them in a positive sense to increase IP awareness.
About the organizer and event:
Finnish Association for Corporate Patent Agents connects patent agents working in Finnish industry. Further, the association improves and updates the knowledge of its members in Finnish and international immaterial rights. The association participates actively on cooperation on immaterial property rights on national and international level. To fulfill its purpose, the association organizes seminars, training and discussion events. The association also gives statements and makes presentations in matters related to the sector. This time on 01st of December we had a honor to have a presentation by Prof. Dr. Alexander J. Wurzer (Director IP Management Education at CEIPI) from the topic of ”Current digital challenges in IP and how to raise awareness in your organization”. The seminar was having the following topics:
- Through the digital transformation product development is often not just done by classical R&D, but increasingly by software developers. For the IP department this raises the question: How do digital inventors know that they made an invention?
- Businesses shift from offering physical tool to services, which are offered additionally to the tool, e.g. via subscription. To support such new cooperative, open and platform-based digital business models IP needs to be used differently.
- Remote work changed during the last years how collaboration and training is organized in companies. New tools are needed to reach and teach employees in remote work environments.
Ari T. Hirvonen
Head of IP at Outokumpu