Do IP users – both businesses and individuals – view rights like patents and copyrights as potential assets that benefit commerce and society? Or, do they see them as nuisances to be ignored and, in some cases, disdained?
How IP rights are perceived, by whom, and why its starting to receive the critical attention it deserves.
Perception, which is known to affect value in all asset classes, is on the rise. Stakeholders are realizing that even sophisticated audiences are clueless about what IP rights generate, and for whom and that the growing hostility towards them has profound implications.
In the October IAM (out today), The Intangible Investor explores, “The premium on perception,” which highlights recent studies on IP perception. IAM readers can find a copy here.
Several recent studies that look at how various audiences regard IP rights have set the stage for further research and analysis. They include:
European Citizens and Intellectual Property: Perception, Awareness and Behavior, a research report from the EUIPO, surveyed 26,000 EU citizens in 2013 and then again in a 2016 follow-up, published this year. Its findings show that while 97% of Europeans regard IP rights favorably, 41% of youths 15-24 believe that it is sometimes ok to buy counterfeits and many say they do, especially when cost is an issue.
Gregory N. Mandel, Dean of the Temple University Law School, questions the accuracy with which audiences see the IP system. In two seminal papers, he considers whether a system that is widely misunderstood can be effective. Professor Mandel and his team conducted research experiments with some 1,700 subjects. He has been researching IP and perception for over a decade with some startling results. The Public Perception of Intellectual Property was published in 2015, and What is IP for? Experiments in Lay and Expert Perceptions was this year.
The IP Strategy Report -2Q 2017 from Aistemos, and IP consultancy, edited by Professor Jeremy Phillips, provides additional useful data points regarding IP and perception. In a report published earlier this year that examined how patent disputes are covered by the technology, business and general media, the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding (CIPU) found that technology media are more subjective than other business or general press when it comes to reporting about patent infringement. The report, Patterns in Media Coverage of Patent Disputes, examined 127 articles published in 2016.
Refusal to recognize the integrity of IP rights is growing. Whether or not this is simply a failure to communicate or a function of self-interest is unclear.
Perhaps the most compelling evidence about U.S. need for IP education was co-written by a Canadian researcher, Dan Breznitz. What the US should be doing to protect Intellectual Property? appeared in the Harvard Business Review.
Failure to Communicate?
For some audiences, refusal to recognize the integrity of IP rights is growing. Whether or not this is simply a failure to communicate or a function of self-interest is unclear. What is clear is the need to quantify changes in attitude, what motivates them and their impact.
IP professionals have done an exceedingly poor job of explaining patents and other rights, to stakeholders, including their own boards of directors and investors. Perhaps they are fearful of setting the stage for future accountability, perhaps they think no one will care?
Recent attempts to track and understand attitudes toward IP are an important step in the right direction. More work needs to be done. An IP system which the participants do not understand or whose values they do not respect is no IP system at all.
Image source: euipo