From the monthly archives:

July 2009

A new IP professional?

by Andrew Watson on 22 July 2009

I just finished listening to this week’s installment of Duncan’s excellent IP Think Tank Podcast, Where to now in the age of intangibles?. At the very end of the podcast, Duncan asks for everyone’s final thoughts, and Sharon Oriel of Gathering2 (and formerly of Dow Chemical), shares her dream of intellectual asset mangement becoming a required course for anyone getting an MBA.

My ears pricked up at this comment, as this is a theme that we’ve discussed on this blog, and we’ll be doing some more research on the state of play of IP/Intellectual Capital courses in MBA programmes.

Ron Laurie however went a step further and suggested a triple partnership between law schools, business schools  and engineering schools to create graduate programmes to produce “Intellectual Asset Mangement Executives”. This is a cool idea.

However, I wonder a bit about the inclusion of the engineering schools into this partnership:

  • Law schools bring in the legal background on IP and how the law protects intangibles
  • Business schools bring in the MBA level materials and practical business education
  • Engineering schools, presumably in this partnership, bring in technical know how as well as their perspective on managing the technical side of things.

So the first question: Which engineering school? There’s ME or EE as well as computer, civil, aerospace, and so on. If the programme focus has this school teaching a specific technical area, then what would they teach?

The second question relates to the first: Why engineering?  The answer to this, I suspect, has to do with patents.

Patents play a large role in most technology based businesses when discussing intellectual asset management. Engineering schools could probably bring a lot to the table in the area of patents.  I’d hesitate though in making these sorts of programmes focus too much on one specific technical area – the principles of IAM apply broadly enough that we don’t need to create specialists in aerospace IAM at the graduate level.

But what about Intellectual Asset Mangement Executives who concentrate on areas beyond patent-heavy technology industries? Those that help service-based businesses, software companies, consumer internet, or in media?

If I can dream for a minute alongside Mr. Laurie, I could see a grad programme with a core foundation of intellectual asset management taught by the law and business schools in the first year, and with several electives based on specific industries, including engineering, in the second.

But for now, in the here and today, I think that the first step along this path is Sharon’s point about integrating IP and intellectual asset management into the core curriculum of MBA schools. And I think that this is a dream likely to come true, and is just around the corner.


iPhone strategy? Build a product ecosystem.

by Andrew Watson on 14 July 2009

With the release of the iPhone 3GS, it’s got me thinking more about Apple and IP again, especially as my neighbour down the hall at ipVA towers just acquired a new iPhone and I helped him get it set up. As you’ve no doubt figured out, I’m a big Apple and iPhone fan, which is why I often use Apple as an example when discussing IP / business strategies. This article awhile back from InfoWorld “Why BlackBerry still beats iPhone for business users” sums up the iPhone strategy nicely:

The reason the iPhone has been a success is as much about it being part of a computing environment and ecosystem as it is the phone itself. There are things that make the iPhone so difficult to compete with.

IP plays a significant role in putting together and protecting Apple’s role within the iPhone product ecosystem. Consider:

  • The iPhone requires users download and install iTunes – Apple’s copyrighted software – to manage the device;
  • iTunes has its own store and numerous content deals (based on copyright) that allow for iPhone users to access the movies, TV shows, and music in the store on the device;
  • Users are restricted by carrier unless they pay full price for the device and unlock it to work with other systems;
  • New apps (unless your phone is “jailbroken”) come via the iTunes store, and Apple controls what goes into the store through its agreements with developers;
  • Technological measures make it hard for you to unlock or jailbreak your phone to get apps from other than the iTunes store. These technological measures not only are digital locks that can be difficult as a practical matter to go around, but can also be protected through civil and criminal law; and
  • Certain features only (AFAIK) work only with other Apple products, such as the “locate my phone” feature which can tell you where your phone is if lost or stolen but requires you to have a MobileMe account.

Apple exudes a sort of paternalism over their ecosystem as well – as in they say things like “we make sure bad apps that do bad things with your data don’t get through”. It reminds me a bit of AOL in the early days – it had no spam problem because all communication on AOL was between AOL users. AOL policed their walled garden well, but eventually had to open it up to the rest of the world and engage in the same kind of anti-spam tactics as everyone else. Building this kind of ecosystem seems pretty linked to providing some other kind of advantage to the user as well (rather than just locking them in), which in the iPhone case is sold as security, reliability, and better integration with other products.

I wonder if in the face of other OS systems such as Android, how long the full iPhone ecosystem can last. But certainly they’ve made a very formidable ring fence around the iPhone by building such a robust ecosystem.


IPReader links for 8 July

July 8, 2009

New and noteworthy links from around the web (copyright edition): Six things to know if your Facebook username has been squatted – Handy overview for Facebook’s new username feature that pops up when you login. Facebook v. Power Ventures: Fair use, misuse, and the fight for access to user-generated data – Scraping gets turn in […]

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