Last week we attended the IP Business Congress 2011 in San Francisco, which is organized by IAM magazine. We tweeted live from many of the panels, and you can take a look at our Twitter feed or the #ipbc topic for commentary and reporting from the conference. It was fun to see commentary pop through the Twitter feed from many different attendees.

Observations from This Year’s IP Business Congress

There were about 550 conference attendees this year, and it was fascinating to hear many different perspectives on IP. It’s apparent that IP is a growing industry, but it’s still new and not fully understood. In the past, executives from traditional product companies tended to look at IP as a risk management issue, but that view is changing. The world is waking up to the potential for IP as a strategic and financial asset class. Companies invest in their own IP, but they’re also looking at smart moves like selling non-strategic patents in order to generate more revenue. At IV, patents and ideas are our products, so we look at the value of ideas in a way that major companies are now starting to understand and follow. Next year’s conference is in Lisbon, and we can’t wait to see how the world of IP has changed a year from now!

IV execs Loria Yeadon (EVP of Invention Investment Fund) and Joe Chernesky (VP and GM of Global Licensing Sales) spoke on panels. Loria discussed the role of the Chief IP Officer in 2015, and her panel included executives from the technology, pharmaceutical and automotive industries. Everyone on the panel agreed that collaboration between business units is important to the role of the CIPO. Loria raised the point that you can’t set up an organizational structure and reporting hierarchy for the CIPO until you determine the role that IP plays in your business. For example, are you hoping to minimize risk or maximize profit? Loria fielded several audience questions, including whether small companies should have a CIPO. She discussed how beneficial it is for small companies to partner with a larger one that can provide a broader IP base. We’ve done deals with several startups, such as VlingoDashwire and BlueCat Networks, to help address the very issue raised by the audience.

Joe spoke on a panel about the IP market and, in particular, some of the ways we work with our customers. He engaged the audience with an IV trivia game, and the audience shouted back their best guesses for some of our stats. The panel focused quite a bit on the issue of transparency and how to move the IP market to a point where people and companies can trace transaction prices more clearly. As Joe pointed out, IV supports the idea of transparency but we naturally have to respect our customers’ wishes for confidentiality. As the players in the market become more comfortable with openness, we’ll welcome the change to a more open dialogue.