Monday, May 18, 2015

IP Markets: Winds of Change Blowing Across Two Continents

By Sudeep Basu
Program Manager
Frost & Sullivan

As our global team begins convening with our industry partners at a series of Frost & Sullivan, Growth Innovation and Leadership (GIL) summits around the world, we hear the winds of change blowing across IP Markets in two continents. In what has now become an annual ritual, the team draws from multiple offices including Silicon Valley, Oxford, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Bangalore, Sao Paolo, Dubai, Johannesburg and Sydney  to name a few of the 40 plus locations around the globe. 

As a consulting firm that practices what it preaches, we do not get drawn into our own silos. Instead, we use the collaborative and stimulating environment of the GIL summits to share stories that we each bring with us from our respective markets to help puts things in global perspective. On one such whirlwind tour, we heard several stories which gave us sufficient food for thought, of course in addition to the joy of sampling delectable cuisine from the local region. Three stories left us feeling particularly satiated. 

As an appetizer, we had India’s new draft IPR Policy. India liberalized and globalized in the late 1990’s which saw the birth of several IT service firms that today have become synonymous with India’s rise as an IT powerhouse. The likes of Infosys, TCS, Wipro and others have created an entire industry which is now over a $110 Billion export driven segment for the Indian economy expected to grow at above 7.5% this year. In addition, India has drawn a wave of Multinational companies (MNCs) in the R&D sector. Examples include prominent global players such as GE, Philips, Google, ABB, IBM, Novozymes, GM, Microsoft and a long growing list of highly competitive corporations. Add to the mix the new government’s “Make in India” initiative, and one has the script for a Steven Spielberg styled blockbuster success story. 

In contrast, the Intellectual Property environment in India is still not where many would like to see it. For any new product development plan in a technology driven industry, IP is lifeblood. This is equally true for fledgling start-ups and fortune 100 companies. Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore are hotbeds of innovation within India where entrepreneurship is on the rise. Here, start-ups are often funded by Silicon Valley based VC firms, several of which now have offices in India.  While India’s new IPR policy does make references to possible changes down the road, it still leaves a lot to be desired in terms of addressing the concerns of the global pharmaceutical industry leaders. The global pharma industry is conspicuously absent from the Indian MNC R&D landscape. As companies position themselves to take advantage of India’s growth story and highly educated technically trained workforce for NPD, they will keenly watch the translation of the draft IPR policy into a robust IP environment in India.

Traveling further east, and across the straits from each other, are Malaysia and Singapore. The story there is equally exciting. Singapore has announced a mega plan called “Intellectual Property (IP) Hub Master Plan”- Developing Singapore as a Global IP Hub in Asia. This plan also openly states its competitive objectives in the global landscape from the perspective of developing an IP centric economic growth program. Neighboring Malaysia has taken the lead for the moment, with a USD 70 Million investment in an IP securitization fund, followed by the development of an IP fund, and the genesis of an IP valuation and trading platform. 

Both these countries are leading partners in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which is in its birth year.  There is a historic opportunity for harmonized IP policy to serve as a key enabler for innovation in the entire AEC, and for IP commercialization to emerge as a catalytic platform for innovation driven economic growth in this region of nearly 600 million consumers. The economic potential of this opportunity is immense. Malaysia’s success as Chair of the AEC will be determined to a great extent by the policies it develops, and the consensus it builds. These policies must be coupled with diplomatic effort in implementing them effectively at the regional level.

After an appetizer and main course filled with delicacies from Asia-Pacific, it was now time for dessert served Silicon Valley style. What better place to source it than Google’s very own innovative kitchen in Mountain View, California. As an interesting aside, Mountain View, CA was where Frost & Sullivan was founded in 1961. Google recently announced via its policy blog a new experimental initiative to buy out patents that it found worthy of its future business interests. Making an open call through a platform that is in development, Google plans to take on the patent trolls and create an IP Market of its own. Efforts at building IP exchanges have previously been made in the IP auctions space by Ocean Tomo, a company that played the mediator between buyers and sellers of patents. RPX, a valley based publicly traded company has launched its own program to increase transparency in the patents transaction market place via the RPX Open Patent Exchange Network (OPEN) initiative. Recently, a bipartisan proposal for the PATENT act (Protecting American Talent and Entrepreneurship act) was tabled in the US senate with the aim of easing the path to innovation and NPD while getting rid of impediments like patent trolls. 

In summary, from Asia to America, IP policy is being favorably transformed, presenting exciting growth opportunities for companies investing in Innovation, R&D and NPD.  

Meet Sudeep Basu at the 10th Annual New Product Development & Marketing 2016: A Frost & Sullivan Executive MindXchange 

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