Of the many ideas I heard at the Inoxcell IP Monetization and Finance Conference in Hong Kong, organized by Jeffery Teh, perhaps the most interesting was a presentation by Peter Cheung, the Director of Intellectual Property for the Government of Hong Kong. Peter would like to see Hong Kong become the location of an international IP Exchange. Essentially his idea is that as patents increasingly become tradable entities, there is an increasing need for a forum for IP trading and for complimentary professional skills such as valuations and the like. Bilingual, Cosmopolitan Hong Kong, with its expertise in providing services, particularly in banking, accountancy and other financial industries, which has traditionally been the gateway into China from the West, and the gateway to the West for the Chinese, – by far the most interesting player in the IP market, is ideally positioned and ripe to support such a venture.
The idea has a lot of appeal. I think the stigma of the troll is becoming a thing of the past. There is a need for a market in which companies looking to purchase IP, whether for defensive purposes, or to aggressively attack competitors, should be able to discover what is available and to make offers. To better match vendors of IP assets with potential customers, it would appear that such a market would have value. Clearly facilitating the sale of a patent or a portfolio to the party most interested in purchasing it, has utilitarian value and seems the best distribution of resources. Nevertheless, one feels that there is still a lack of reasonable models for evaluating IP. Ocean Tomo holds IP auctions. More discrete patent brokerages like ICAP use their networks to identify potential clients and, working on a percentage, have an interest in identifying the highest bidder.
I find this fascinating. Not least because, as a magician, I enjoy creating assets from ideas, creating intangible products of real value by describing inventions, claiming them and then prosecuting patent applications.
One of the questions clients often ask me regarding China, is whether patents can be upheld there. I met a charming young lady, Ms Angela Or, who works for Philips, collecting revenue from the licensing of their patents to Chinese firms. She assures me that the system works.
There were a number of monetization presentations that provided food for thought, and will probably be related to elsewhere.
Another interesting presentation I heard was from Fabrice Mattel, the managing director of the Thai office of Rouse & Co. an international IP firm. Mr Mattel believes passionately in the rights of indigenous populations to benefit from their biodiversity resources. He lectured with a great deal of conviction and gave miscellaneous examples such as how the rubber plant was stolen from Brazil and introduced into Malaysia which has a virtual monopoly on the rubber market.
I couldn’t help thinking about how the US should sue the rest of the world for tobacco and the potato, both stolen by Walter Raleigh in an act of blatant bio-piracy. Then again, one could sue Native American tribes for causing the Irish Potato Famine and for lung cancer. The breadfruit could be tried for causing a naval mutiny. I am not sure to what extent plant resources should be considered ethnic heritage, but I found the lecture enjoyable, even if not convincing. Certainly it made a nice change from the run of the mill IP stuff.
Particularly useful was a presentation by Dr Liao Cheng Wei, the director of the Taiwan Intellectual Property Office. Dr Wei detailed various ways of accelerating Taiwan prosecution based on developments in other jurisdictions.
This was a small conference where the various participants spent a couple of days together and got to know one another. It was a lot of fun, fairly well organized and very informative.