Reflections on IPBC2012

by Andrew Watson on 27 June 2012

Executive summary

  • Great networking and catching up with old friends
  • Patchy content
  • Telecoms fixated
  • Patent dominated
  • Not a great dinner venue for Monday, particularly for an epileptic
  • A market on the move, but still too patent focussed
  •  A lovely hotel and a unique room

Overall rating 7/10

I’m not sure what more to say. I’ll explain a couple.

Next year, unless the content matures, it should be renamed the Patent Business Congress or the Telecoms Patents Business Congress.

It seemed close to all of the speakers and most of the audience seemed to think that IP=patents and could talk of nothing else. Even worse, anybody outside of telecoms would have felt poorly served.  Maybe this was the sub-theme, and if so it should have been made clear.

I started to count in each session the number of times that the word patent was being mentioned or the number of minutes of possession patents was getting. If I’d had one of those football possession stats, it would have read Patents 96%, others 4%. Like Barcelona versus Newcastle in the Champions League (it’ll never happen but we can but dream) patents were the tiki-taka champions of the conference.

Do you think I’ve made my point? Does anyone care? Well at least thanks you to Mickie Piatt from Chicago-Kent college of law who came across after Ben Goodger’s very stimulating session yesterday and is trying to take patents out of her IP education program. Mickie, I’ve totally misrepresented what you said to me but, as they say, never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

I am epileptic so imagine my joy at the one million twinkling lights on Monday night at the Casino de Estoril in a room that replicated my one, and only, night in a lap dancing bar. The venue could not have been much worse. Though I did get to sit next to the IV wall of sound that is Ken Lustig.

Conversation possession wise I think I got 6%. He is the tiki-taka of the conversation world. I think he paused for breath once but left his ears at home in Seattle. I had to play the tactic of a surprise shot from distance around six minutes in  by asking “Is IV going to make money?”. Around 2 minutes later after explanations about how IV is making pots of money I tried another “I wasn’t asking about revenues, I was asking whether they will return money to investors and whether the management team will make their bonuses for a return over 15%, or whatever IVs hurdle rate is?”

I wasn’t being provocative or skeptical Ken (promise) but you are running a 20 year fund that is 10 years in and is the most prominent of IPs investment funds.  If IV fails, we may all fail or at least find finding money hard (that btw the answers your question about why we care about IV).

Sorry Ken, everybody says you are a wall of sound but you’ve now met a Geordie. We tell people when they’ve inadvertently smeared bogeys on their chin so you’re not getting away lightly.   

It does seem the market is moving though. Mosaid and CPA with new PE owners, new funds for the quite hard to like Vincent Pluvinage (so he says) and one other genuine IP visionary and, for us, BCG represented. A good chat with Mark Wohlfarth about how BCG see the market. One to watch I think.

We did have a great table on Monday though. My personal  favourite and aspirational friend John Olsen. Ben Goodger also of Edwards Wildman (regrow the beard Obi-Wan). Peter Holden, watch him, he is the real thing. Mark Wohlfarth from BCG, about whom more above, and a gentleman from Perkins Coie who’s name I didn’t get. And Rob who’s an IP genius at the worst of times.


A few awards

Best presentation. An equal first:

Raymond Hegarty of IV (shit, he’s got more kids than me, in fact I’ve got 5/9 of his number and he still may have a couple more in him). Unexpectedly polished and informative and expectedly entertaining. Irish dancing is on the keynote for 2013. It is IP Joff. You need to remove yourself from all these Neanderthal patent types. Oops, there I go again.

 Haydn Evans from CPA with his series of European IP attention statements. Heck are we in trouble. We will soon be not only out-patented but out-innovated. Does anybody care?

Best and worst dressed man. Stephen Potter, both days. Tuesday reminded me of Timmy Mallett.

Best dressed woman. That unapproachable larger than life (and her dress) girl in the beach dress on Tuesday.

Best idea. INTIPSAs vision with a quality twist suggested by the very cool Kate from Watermark.

Best comment from the audience. Being immodest, mine in Donal’s session. Europe needs to focus on it’s USP s and fast. Start by uninviting all the American trolls and troll evolutionaries who say they’re not trolls from IPBC 2013.

MVP. Joff Wild. You seem to like the Americanisms, example IP Hall of Fame. You’ve created a prima donna fest Joff. All criticism constructive.

Oh, my room at the Poussada. How much I made of this!!  They’ve retired the room for me going forward. Room 007 will be forever mine.



{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick White 06.27.12 at 11:36 pm

If IV fails we may all fail? Really? Money for what? Investing in IP?

There is I feel a more fundamental question mark over the IV model. Can a business that does not utilise inventions itself make money from making inventions and convincing those that may be able to use these inventions to actually use them and licence IVs IP? In general it is always those who invent and use the inventions they create that make the most money from invention.

If IV fails it just means the model was not viable and this will have little or no impact on the real world of IP monetization. For goodness sake they only have 30,000 patents!

Haydn’s observations on Europe? It always amazes me how in a world that is awash with patent data and information we often miss the important trends. Through the myopia of the IP world we see IP symptoms and not the underlying disease. If we are being out-patented in Europe we are already being out-innovated. The most amusing observation in this context I recently saw was the belief in the UK that the decline in patents was somehow linked to a lack of understanding about IP and it’s strategic importance. The INTIPSA IP in the boardroom problem. Here’s the rub. Which boardrooms? Through this IP myopia we fail to see that ignorance about IP in the boardroom is not the disease. The disease is the chronic decline in start-ups and businesses in the UK that could actually utilise patents and other forms of IP. If you have a good look at the data and scratch more than the surface you will see some rather startling insights.

The IP community (including patent offices) has seriously lost touch with what IP is all about. Mostly full of bullshit.

What Europe needs to do is get back to basics, ignore the US hegemony and remember that IP is the servant of enterprise/innovation and not its master.

Andrew Watson 06.28.12 at 8:19 am

Nick and I see the World very differently. If you really want to make an impact Nick you need to fully engage with it and help it not just complain on blogs about it. Most everyone is trying their hardest to achieve something good, even IV I am sure, but the tone needs to be constructive and engaged.

Nick White 06.28.12 at 9:05 am

Actually, I don’t think we do see the world that differently. I think I see what you see and anyway talk about shooting the messenger! Like you I say it as it is, if that’s a complaint then so be it. There is an awful lot to complain about but then you have to be at the rock face and engaged with the wider community, IP and otherwise, to notice and to make a difference.

Hogwash Andrew. I am not at all convinced that many in the IP space are “trying to achieve something good” at least for the greater good. It’s very insular and self-serving at all levels.

Reading your posts Andrew methinks you have more to complain about than I do. I share the frustrations but do not believe that solutions are to be found from within the IP community or your rants on this blog ( but please don’t stop!).

Making a difference is exactly what I am about. So when it suits I will point out that the Emperor has no clothes, that is being constructive, and the rest of the time will quietly and effectively get on with all the IP projects and eductaion initiatives on my plate and try to make a difference where it counts. That is being engaged with the real world of IP and not blowing my own trumpet within a largely self-serving and increasingly irrelevant IP community.

Andrew Watson 06.28.12 at 1:41 pm

You’ll die a lonely death Nick. As I say to my kids, sharing is good. I don’t doubt that you’re out there at the coalface, but you need some troops behind you.

I don’t think the IP community is as you describe. It is a little insular and could do with stopping to think about how it really interacts with the outside world.

David Ramm of Edwards Wildman is a new member. I think, for me, he made the most apposite observation. “As an IP community, you need to stop talking about why the CEO’s of business don’t understand IP, and instead try learning to talk like buisness people”.

One thing we might just agree on.

Nick White 06.28.12 at 2:32 pm

LOL. Appearances can be deceptive! My troops are sitting right alongside me and none of them patent attorneys.

I think we might just agree on that one. I was doing this dawn on day one, it’s a no brainer. But that’s the difference between those who have been in business and those who have not. The sad fact is that most cannot do this. You need to have experienced it to do it at all never mind well.

I would also put it slightly differently.

“As an IP community we need to stop thinking that CEO’s who don’t understand IP is the problem and instead try and understand why they don’t realise their ignorance about IP is a problem and what we need to change about what we do to address that.” I’m pretty sure just being able to talk like business people is not it….feel like a business person perhaps?

Anyway get IPBC 2013 in your diary and lets see if we can get a 9/10.

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