From BusinessWire on January 26, 2009:
Mark Blaxill and Ralph Eckardt, two experts on innovation and intellectual property strategy (IP), take that argument one step further: In a competitive global economy, IP rights are one of a company’s – indeed, a country’s – main source of competitive advantage.
Blaxill and Eckardt are the authors of the forthcoming book The Invisible Edge: Taking Your Strategy to the Next Level Using Intellectual Property (Portfolio, March 2009). Their latest white paper on innovation and intellectual property, “The Innovation Imperative”, argues that America’s most valuable asset is its innovation and IP reserves, and that these will likely become the main source of U.S. competitive and economic strength in the 21st Century. Importantly, the paper warns that these advantages are easily endangered by overzealous attempts to drive patent reform too far and misguided calls to weaken the rights of patent owners.
Back in the 1960s and 1970s, in the name of “competition,” regulators at the FTC forced some of America’s leading companies to open their patent portfolios to the world. According to Blaxill and Eckardt: “The result was a flood of goods from foreign companies – made with American know-how that was obtained essentially for free.”
- The emblematic case was the 1975 antitrust settlement with Xerox: The FTC consent decree forced Xerox to give away decades of innovations for free.
- The wholesale cooption and give-away of patent rights (nearly 50,000 patents) plunged American businesses into a competitiveness crisis – and exacerbated the nation’s economic woes – for more than a decade.
- Today’s “patent reform” movement risks another large-scale give-away of innovation assets just when America needs these resources most.
[The authors] recommend a national “innovation policy” that includes:
Protecting the U.S. patent system and the renewable strategic reserves that it generates.
Sustaining America’s terms of trade and defending the pricing of America’s invisible assets through regulation and legislation.
Adapting the USPTO to the needs of the modern patent development process.
Building talent locally through quality science and engineering education.
Providing incentives for inventive talent to live and work in the U.S.
Making science and engineering financially rewarding careers.
Supporting returns on invisible asset investments.
I received a copy of the white paper in the mail from a former BCG colleague of the authors, Bill Matassoni. To receive your own copy of “The Innovation Imperative” white paper or The Invisible Edge: Taking Your Strategy to the Next Level Using Intellectual Property (Portfolio, March 2009) and supporting materials, or to schedule a conversation with one of the authors, please contact Adria Greenberg at Sommerfield Communications, Inc. (212) 255-8386 or firstname.lastname@example.org.