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The IP Crisis And How Blockchain Can Solve it

by uma

By Lavinia Meliti, Global Head of Business Development at IPwe:

In a time of globalization, where we see widespread access to digital technologies, developing an innovative business should be more accessible than ever. Pioneers and founders should be able to stand on the shoulders of previous innovators, tapping into new technologies to create transformative and commercially viable companies. However, businesses are being held back.

Google was born out of a garage, while college dropouts created Apple. Today’s ‘could be’ pioneers face a plethora of new challenges, among which is navigating Intellectual Property (IP).

IP initially emerged as a legal concept to ensure inventors could reap the returns of their inventions, but they have become increasingly less about harnessing innovation and creativity. IP patents have become the defining tool for corporate warfare. 

Weapons of innovative destruction

Major global tech companies are using IP for market dominance. Despite the innovative original spirit of IP, they can be used to take opportunities from others. Big businesses file patents for IP protection in the future, but accidentally cut off avenues of innovation that emerging companies could explore.

All of this means that many IP patents sit dormant, unfortunately causing thousands of inventions to never be brought to light.

An accessible goldmine 

So, when an innovator comes up with an innovative idea and seeks to turn it into a reality, they either have to negotiate a license or purchase IP for their own exclusive, otherwise they risk facing litigation. IP licensing and purchasing can both be costly and very time-consuming, and small to medium-sized businesses and start-ups usually do not have the time for these lengthy processes. Nor do they have the massive budget to clear these hurdles, especially if they are looking to bring a new concept to market rapidly

IP represents a goldmine– not just to the owner but also to the broader business world, and it should be accessible to smaller organizations. Every business exists in an ecosystem, procuring services from partners and working with suppliers. Instead of big tech and IP hoarding stifling innovation, there is an opportunity to help nurture the wider business world, creating new possibilities for innovation. That means more ideas, more businesses, more products, and more solutions. 

And, at a time of disruption – which is economically charged – we often see the most creative of inventions. Now, with so much turmoil, there could be a real opportunity for businesses to create a fairer IP ecosystem where all players benefit.

For too long, the IP space has been due for an overhaul that would democratize access and level the playing field for innovators. That is where blockchain technology comes in.

Blockchain will help all that deserve a place at the table

Organizations needed a middle ground between IP hoarding and an innovation free-for-all. Thankfully, today, tools are readily available so that IP owners can license their technology without needing a large legal team. 

Platforms like Smart Pools exist to fill this gap – a way to deliver the benefits of technology patents to innovators. Underpinned by use of blockchain, Smart Pools democratise access to patents and are transparent, safe and efficient.

Blockchain means one platform can maintain records using automated, low-cost mechanisms, whilst allowing for real-time methods of asset transfer. From there it’s possible to under take rapid analysis and general summaries of patent information. In turn, this helps businesses identify possible opportunities from the millions of patents circulating globally while avoiding those that tend to lead to financial risks. 

But it does not end here. Blockchain also encourages those owners of IP to put them up for licensing. Blockchain offers a distributed ledger where patent titles can be stored in a way that offers security, transparency, auditability, and immutability.

To restore IP as a tool to enable widespread innovation, a different approach was needed – one that retains the financial incentives for IP owners but opens possibilities for other innovators to tap into them. That’s what we’ve created at IPwe. Making IP much more accessible will ensure every entrepreneur and organization who deserves a place at the table will be present in the coming years.

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