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Interview with Hanns Hallesius

CIP is 20 years old this year.  What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

During all my years working in IP, people have told me that IP is becoming more important in business. It’s like one of these “eternal truths” – at least among IP professionals. I actually believe it is true, the more knowledge-based the value generation in our society is, the more important a factor IP is and will be. I do think I can observe this ongoing change. But, when looking back, I sometimes wonder why we have not moved further in supporting business with IP.

We are moving however, looking at the changes last 20 years, I would probably highlight the development of balanced technology licensing structures, the growth of more business-driven IP management, and the shifts of the IP services market.

There has been a lot of efforts from different stakeholders over the years, negotiations as well as fights, which has led to the establishment of fairly recognized common structures for licensing of networked standard technologies, in particular for telecom and communication equipment, through standard essential patents and FRAND agreements. This is an important foundation for balanced approaches serving the “common good” through IP in the future structures in a yet more digitalized and connected world.

As the world of IP licensing has a quite tangible financial side, in contrast to other ways to create value through IP, it is also a natural meeting point for business and IP. As such, I believe it has in many ways also served as a good inspiration for business-driven IP management also in other industries. With this said, I believe it is often overlooked, that a business model based on technology licensing and monetization of IP differs very much from a traditional product and services-based business model, where the revenue base – and the return on investment in R&D – is typically provided by sales of products and services.

I have over the years seen more and more initiatives and a deeper understanding of how to use IP to gain control and shape the business and competitive landscape better, in addition to traditional “exclusivity” strategies. I have also seen a stepwise movement within – I think – most industries, away from more of an “old-fashioned” reactive IP management, towards more of proactive management of intellectual property, driven by strategic business needs.

I can see the attitude of IP professionals also moving, step by step. More IP professionals want to become strategic business partners, not “only” distinguished experts in IP. Just look at the growth of the number of professionals using the title “IP Strategist”. In parallel, I also see the profession is moving in higher knowledge and understanding of business and a more refined view of how IP does and – does not – impact the business.

There have always been people acting in the borderlands between business and IP. I think the number has grown though and I believe we also see the shaping of a professional role in between the traditional IP attorney and business management roles and “on the same level”.

When looking at IP services, we have seen more specialized service providers growing and competing through offshoring, economies of scale, and technology in services such as patent information, filing management, and translations. I do however believe that we are only at the beginning of a shift here. Many buyers of IP services still have quite some unfulfilled expectations.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

Given the background that more and more of the value-generating assets of the world can be counted as intellectual property, one of the fundamental needs I see for the future is to secure a better-combined understanding of IP and its effects in a business context. In my view, the most critical bottleneck for better strategic use of IP is that too few persons understand enough of IP effects on business situations. Too few business decision-makers have a full understanding of the impact of IP on those decisions. And – not least – too few IP specialists fully understand the business and the business effects of different IP decisions. If we can bridge this gap and even create more of a true overlap in the understanding between business decision-makers and IP experts, I am sure that we, as a society, will be able to make better decisions and create much more value.

As we see IoT impacting more and more “traditional” industries, there are a number of “new” challenges affecting more and more companies. The “old truths” in many industries are challenged. We start seeing more of separation of on one hand components in connected technologies and, on the other hand, the patent protection of functionality provided by such components in use, into parallel supply chains. It’s no longer self-evident that you will automatically receive an unlimited indemnification from a component supplier. You may need to get licenses elsewhere depending on the use you intend to have from the component or product you have bought. This is a new and troublesome concept for many industries.

There are also quite some challenges in setting the rules and business terms for the next level of technology licensing in industries new to this game. I see a situation where there is a big difference between what licensors expect in license fees and what licensees are ready to pay without challenging the terms. It would not surprise me if a number of court decisions are needed to set the balance and the basic rules for future licensing of connected technologies.

The area of AI and its implication on development on development processes is also an interesting challenge for IP protection in the future. What can and should be possible to protect?

When it comes to IP services, I believe cost and activities spent on administration will be put under further press. Management of large patent portfolios is an administratively heavy and thus quite costly activity. Clients will demand more transparency and efficiency, and I do believe a new “rebalanced” ecosystem of IP service providers lies ahead of us. The IP service provider landscape is changing and the IP law firm, as a traditional one-stop-shop, will be more and more challenged. With further digitalization, workflows can be improved, efficiencies can be gained, and better control can be achieved. I believe specialized service providers addressing certain parts of the IP value chain, will drive a transformation of the IP industry further through digitalization, AI, blockchain, and other opportunities of modern IT technology.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

The first item in my book is always to understand how the crisis is impacting the business strategy and to adapt the IP strategy in response thereto. For an in-house IP department, the word “crisis” often translates “cut IP cost”. But before addressing such cuts, it is important to understand if the crisis has an impact on the strategy and the priorities. And not least, it’s important to understand the relevance of cost cuts in IP in relation to cost cuts in other areas, even though fast decisions will have to be made.

In situations of crisis, the organizations that have full control of the connection between different IP activities and their respective business value creation can quickly prioritize and reduce costs in a smart way – or actually, defend any relevant IP budgets. Companies not having this control will always have issues in crisis management and must be prepared to face higher risks and uncertainty in cutting IP costs.

In any case, you’ll, of course, need to prioritize the best possible way to achieve the best possible cost reduction with the least negative impact and you have to realize and accept that risk as such is unavoidable.

Even though the fastest path is to reduce volumes of activities and to downsize portfolios, you should of course also review your cost structure. “Never waste a good crisis”! A crisis – however disturbing – is a good opportunity to make more drastic changes to the cost structure. For many companies, there is still a lot of further efficiencies to gain by improving the cost control of its suppliers and by reviewing what kind of providers are used for different activities. All opportunities to “do more with less” should of course be considered in this regard.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

One key effect of the corona crisis – and I believe we have all observed this – is that our digital maturity, in a few months, has moved forward by years. This in turn has led to – and probably will keep leading to – faster adoption of available technologies. I would assume that this will also provide a further boost to innovation in certain technologies.

From an IP services perspective, this will most likely also further push the ongoing digitalization of IP management. Past Corona, buyers of IP services will have even higher expectations on a good digital experience and highly automized cost-efficient administrative processes.

I am also a bit curious about the lasting effects from a more political perspective. I believe the ongoing efforts to provide the world with a vaccine against Covid 19 – in a somewhat unusual combination of cooperation and competition between countries and companies – will go on for yet a while and will be remembered even longer. The role of IP in this pursuit is likely to be scrutinized and the later perception of how helpful, or not, IP will have been for the general good, may well have an impact on the political climate and shape the future development of legislation and regulations.

About Hanns Hallesius’ role

After more than 20 years of managing IP teams in law firm and in-house environments, I am presently exploring other ways to add value to the broader IP ecosystem. In this pursuit, I have started a consultancy focusing on intellectual property strategy and management. I am also exploring ways to improve the management of IP in partnerships together with different service providers, who are or strive to be in the frontline of their service area.

Interview with Paul Fehlner

CIP is 20 years old this year.  What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

This is one area where harmonization has increased. The other big change is that the US has become more anti-patent by elevating patent eligibility to a super-patentability requirement that knocks out important biotechnology and digital technology inventions.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

On the positive side, personal data may be recognized and protected as an IP right. IP-fueled open innovation platforms may accelerate development across fields beyond software and basic research. On the negative side, anti-IP forces made up of critics of IP rights on the left and entrenched businesses that want to suppress competition on the right both have the potential to harness popular opinion against new technology, and IP will be a victim or at best become irrelevant.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

Consider alternate scenarios and make decision that would be the same for all or most of the scenarios. It’s unlikely that any scenario will arrive as anticipated, but decisions that are right for different theoretical scenarios are more likely to work for actual future events.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

The COVID-19 challenge has the potential to demonstrate the value of open innovation in biopharmaceutical research, reducing the tendency to secrecy in terms of manufacturing, clinical data, and regulatory filings. The COVID-19 Technology Access Platform, based on the acknowledgment of and respect for IP rights, could head off anti-IP actions such as compulsory licenses and arbitrary patent revocations or blatant refusal to enforce patent rights.

About Paul Fehlner’s role

I support research, development, and commercialization of products by building a comprehensive IP plan around the company strategy. We keep elements of exclusivity, reputation, and collaboration continuously in mind. All this work has to fit into the company’s culture. I am involved in company management, especially climate and culture.

Interview with Henrik Olsson

CIP is 20 years old this year.  What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

Breakdown of classical value chains into networks where intangibles, and their management, play a key role. Also, there are new technologies and globalization. Right now, many companies are in the process of understanding and adjusting their business and internal ways of working to win in the new business reality.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

Holistic: The optimization goes from individual types of IPRs to build a platform of control where you have a mix of business operating models, IPRs, agreements, and trade secrets. The IPR community is now adjusting to this. The pressure to deliver commercial value: Companies increasingly want to know and see the commercial contribution from IP (today and future). Relevant stakeholders in a company are normally willing to take part in IP operations – as long as they understand why.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

Keep cool – don’t do the wrong things. There can be a lot of pressure to cut costs, but that has to be done in an intelligent way so that the future is not harmed. Perhaps future historians, when describing our current times, will talk about: “COVID19 mistakes” IP is a long term activity. Hopefully, COVID19 is a short one. It is important to remember that some industries are in a crisis and others blossom.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

A stronger focus on doing the right things – more selective actions Stronger commercial focus Shifting focus to “must-haves” rather than “nice-to-haves”.

About Henrik Olsson’s role

I strengthen the competitiveness and profitability of companies.

Interview with Béatrix de Russé

CIP is 20 years old this year.  What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

20 years ago, there was an increased awareness of the benefits of IP at the Board level in many companies; now it seems that this trend has more or less disappeared, except in Asia. China has emerged as a major IP actor, as evidenced by the number of filed patents and the establishment of special IP courts. But Europe is proving more resistant to IP coordination and reinforcement ( UPC, European patent …). The USA is again becoming more patent adverse. The opposition between IP promoters and their opponents has reached an unprecedented level.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

More pressure on IP and increased difficulties for IP holders due to the current challenging of various groups promoting the free use of innovation; Chinese IP holders ” invading” the rest of the world with their patents ( quality will improve) and forcing westerners to use their technologies; continuous anti IP lobbying in sectors such as green and clean technologies or pharmacy; difficulties to adapt current IP rights to digital and dematerialized innovation.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

Continue to promote IP at all levels: governments, corporations, SMEs, etc; continue to innovate and file patents, while thinking of potentially new IP rights adapted to the new world; press for more coordination at worldwide level, including with China.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

Either this crisis will open eyes on the need for more coordination at regional and worldwide levels and efforts may lead to a revival of IP, even in different forms and to greater innovation for, ao, the pubic welfare. Or clusters will appear and major corporations will use their rights for their sole benefit, reducing competition, increasing prices, and impairing innovation…

About Béatrix de Russé’s role

After 20 years as the head of IP and Licensing at Thomson/Technicolor, I am now a consultant in IP strategy, licensing, etc.

Interview with Robertha Höglund

CIP is 20 years old this year. What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

The strategic importance of China as a market and region, the improvement and development of the Chinese IP system to be fairer to foreign companies; the sophistication in IP strategy in big tech companies such as Philips; Digitalisation, and big data. Even in very traditional production companies like Elkem these topics are very relevant and we deal with big data. We just created a Digital Office with a Head of Digital to coordinate all efforts in the organization via agile methodology. I also see many and more sophisticated products (software) to manage IP. Interesting Softwares to create patent Budgets, patent landscapes, patent metrics, Dashboards, interesting IP management systems, innovation systems, AI loaded Trademark search databases.
While trade secrets have always being used, the knowledge and awareness on how to manage them have increased at least in the last 5 years due to legislation in the USA and Europe. I have also seen an increase in litigations specifically related to Trade Secrets. I also have noticed a re-invention of classical IP firms to become more of a business adviser. For example Awapatent now rebranded as AWA. Gone are the golden days when IP law firms were charging so much for doing only translations and extending PCT Applications. Taking attorney fees for many tasks that were purely administrative. Lastly, this one is not a major change, but the proportion that intangible assets have in the valuation of a company has increased with an additional 4%.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

Artificial Intelligence. It is a challenge in the way that we will see more inventions generated by AI entities and right now current IP laws are not written to protect such inventions as they are meant to protect the efforts of the human mind. I believe that in the very long term, these laws may change, but then we also need the creation of new laws to define an artificial entity and its rights. Another challenge that I see is still the lack of understanding about IP outside of the IP bubble. It is still normal to have ignorance about IP in the c-suite. Maybe a challenge for us practitioners is to speak a language that business people understand.
I hope that a positive IP change in the next 20 years is the inclusion of IP courses as part of the normal curriculum in business, medical and engineering schools. It should not be a niche education! In my opinion, IP courses are as important as basic finance courses. Very costly mistakes are done because young students that become professionals don’t have a clue about IP. I cringe when I hear colleagues say they will patent a word. But that really does not have any economic impact, but when a researcher comes up with something new and he/she publishes it before patent protection, good luck with the damage control.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

Don’t panic and don’t lose your long term focus. All crises past at some point and you must be prepared for the good times. Of course don’t indulge with registrations you don’t need but keep protecting your assets. In the world of patents, a missed deadline to enter the national phase is a missed deadline. So if the product is strategic, take the cost, and suck it up. Better times will await.
Also, talk your way with your agents to negotiate better rates and explore the use of specialized translations firms that can give you savings when dealing with multiple translations for entering the national phase of a PCT application. Negotiate with your suppliers when the time to renew the contract for whatever software you use arrives. You need the product, your manager is pushing you to cut costs, and sellers want to sell as they earn on commission so often times they are willing to give discounts in times of crisis.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

If you are talking about the pandemic with Covid-19, nothing has really changed for us in terms of serving our internal customers. We keep super busy. However, a positive consequence of this pandemic has been the forced digitalization pace in the IP department. We have made considerable improvements in our internal routines to deal with less paper and having a true mobile IP department. We also have had more efficient and cheaper meetings because they are executed via TeamsMeetings.
So we should definitely keep these good habits after Covid-19. We also used the opportunity to take many interesting Webinars on different IP topics that we found via LinkedIn. They were for free and very useful. One thing that is not the same is the face-to-face IP training for particular groups of employees. The internal courses are appreciated and we like to organize them as we also have some sort of social moment. For this we very much hope we are able to resume our training after the autumn, but it is not certain it will happen.

About Robertha Höglund’s role

Manage the Intellectual assets of Elkem ASA, educate employees on the topic of Intellectual Property, and draft IP policies in the Company. And what I dream that I do is to generate a super IP savvy C-suite in my organization. I hope one day I do that.

Interview with Raymond Millien

CIP is 20 years old this year. What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years?

I think the one major change I have seen is the recognition of the value of IP by not only the C-suite but also the financial community-at-large (i.e., “Wall Street”). When I started practicing IP law over 20 years ago, it was still seen as some niche area of the law with little business value. This has obviously changed in the last two decades.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

In the next 20 years, I see one main challenge in the IP space (and this is something that remains unsolved since I have been in this field): How do we get more certainty around the value of individual IP assets and then bring liquidity to such valuations. Still, today, that remains a challenge!

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis?

There is no doubt that in times like this, managing IP has to revolve more around trade secret identification and protection! This is due to the fact that we are living through a time of massive layoffs, heightened job uncertainty, and increasing opportunistic job-switching. The historical and typical approach of focusing solely on patents will not work!

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis?

I sure hope it does! In times of crisis, people get more innovative. These “people” cannot be limited to IP clients. It has to apply to the IP industry (i.e., the lawyers, agents, service providers, etc.) as well!!!

About Raymond Millien’s role

As CIPO at Volvo Cars, I am responsible for leading the Intellectual Property (IP) department, and I am also the MD of our corporate venture capital arm. Thus, I would sum up my role by saying the teams I have the fortune of leading try to be an effective business partner in driving the growth of Volvo Cars. This is done by identifying, protecting, monetizing, and investing in the IP rights surrounding our brands, those resulting from R&D, and complimentary startup technologies and solutions.

Interview with Brian Hinman

CIP is 20 years old this year. What are the major changes that you have seen in the IP world over the past 20 years? 

The IP world has seen many significant changes overall, with the most significant being a worldwide appreciation for the value of IP in an organization. The shift from tangible to intangible assets is pronounced and has garnered the attention of C suite executives in every organization since it reflects the strength of innovation and how impactful the intangible (IP) fruits of this innovation can be on the revenue stream of any company. Another major change has been in the growth of IP litigation from both competitors and Non-Practicing-Entities (NPEs).
This growth creates major disruption for every technology industry and has resulted in the emergence of patent defensive entities like AST (which I founded), RPX, Unified Patents (which I co-founded), LOT, OIN, etc. Another significant change has been the emergence of SEP’s (Standard Essential Patents) which are patents that claim inventions that must be used to comply with a technical standard. Determining which patents are essential to a particular standard can be complex and there are certain rules that require licensing of SEPs to be on fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. The inability of worldwide courts to consistently rule on what is considered FRAND has been a heavily debated topic that is still unsettled.

What do you see as the major IP changes or challenges for the next 20 years?

I think there will be further sharing of best practices among the world’s leading patent offices to ensure better alignment and to address shortcomings on issues such as patent quality and cost. In addition, the role of technologies like artificial intelligence will become fully embraced by these patent offices in securing quality claims in a timely manner.
An area of IP that has exploded with growth is in the area of trade secrets, and this will continue to be an area that companies will embrace, but these companies will also need to address potential shortcomings in their ability to identify, protect and manage these ‘crown jewel’ assets. Legislations like the DTSA, the EU Trade Secrets Directive, and the Anti-Unfair Competition Law in China will continue to have an effect on streamlining how trade secrets will be interpreted by the court systems worldwide.

What advice do you have on how to manage IP in times of crisis? 

Companies will need to focus on reducing expenses to preserve cash, seeking capital for liquidity, and move to protect their balance sheets in the hope of re-imagining a stronger future. IP assets are critical to addressing these crisis-driven objectives. Companies need to address the balance between spending money to secure an optimal IP portfolio (inclusive of all types of IP) and at the same time focusing on quality. These companies need to re-examine key innovation initiatives while focusing on enterprise value creation through IP build strategies.

Will this current crisis create changes in how IP is used or managed and, will it last beyond the crisis? 

I think the current crisis has already affected companies in how they contain costs associated with patent portfolio management and are taking a closer look at individual assets to try and determine relevance and strategic importance. This will continue beyond the current crisis since it is a prudent exercise to embark upon and companies are recognizing this.

About Brian Hinman’d role

Brian Hinman is the Chief Commercial Officer of Aon IP Solutions part of the senior leadership team, which delivers IP solutions that enhance our client’s enterprise value by executing IP‐based value creation strategies and mitigating IP risk exposure. Brian helps lead the efforts for Aon in seizing the generational opportunity to establish market‐accepted standards for assessing and valuing the IP asset class for businesses and investors.