You can't touch IP, most litigation devotes significant energy to even defining a right, and, by definition, any particular right is unique. So, how do you measure IP? Data on IP is scarce; inaccessible registries, unregistered rights and privately held information don't help. Yet, recent trends in IP data suggest progress is being made. In particular, trends in national offices are promising.
|"Sh!t ton is my favourite unit of measurement."|
Bill Murray Parody Twitter Account
Pallas cat looking angry, by Tambako the Jaguar
The relative dearth of data in IP impacts both policy and business. The lack of good data means that policy may be based on subjective views not in line with empirical evidence. Poor data on the value of IP, litigation risk and the importance of IP protection may mean that firms’ IP strategies are not optimised. For example, the fear of patent litigation, even if such fear is unwarranted, increases demand for litigation insurance, and consequently increases insurance premiums. Good data benefits everyone.
The trendy word in datasets these days is, “granular.” Granular, however, does not mean organic grains stuck between teeth, but “the size in which data fields are subdivided.” In short, it means detailed. The kinds of datasets becoming available now are at an unprecedented level of detail. <Merpel, were she an economist, would swoon at this point.>
Thankfully, IP offices are making data more accessible. While the increasing availability of IP registries for search purposes is encouraging, one-off cases provide little insight. Comprehensive research requires complete databases rather than registry searches. It is these complete databases where we are seeing great improvements.
British Museum Egypt
by Einsamer Schützer
I could write multiple posts on patent data, but suffice to say that it is much more widely available, from both offices and commercial databases, than other rights. The USPTO has recently published some more data on application data, which the Written Description blog has covered. IP Australia’s forthcoming 2016 version of their IP Government Open Data (IPGOD) has broader coverage than previous releases and includes attorney information, abstracts, transactions and process milestones.
The USPTO has led the trend in publishing trade mark data. They've created good, easily accessible databases (accessibility here meaning comprehensive, high-quality, historical data in a format that can be easily ported into a variety of software.) Hot on the heels of the USPTO are the UK IPO and IP Australia. IP Australia has particularly exciting plans, according to Chief Economist, Ben Mitra-Kahn, “We are working with WIPO, USPTO, UK IPO, IPONZ and OHIM to create a global TM database with the Universities of Swinburne and Melbourne which will also be a first. Next steps are tools to work and look into the data. A lot of cool stuff.”
OHIM has plans to make its data more accessible and WIPO, in some cases, is restricted from sharing its data as it is often-third party. If readers could alert me to other offices making more data available, please do. Most offices seem to be sticking to online searchable, but not downloadable, records systems and statistics releases (e.g. analysis of IP trends, often in published in pdf.)
The unregistered nature of copyright suggests we won’t be seeing much by way of copyright data boons from IP offices. However, the digital era creates opportunities for copyright-related data. For example, Google makes its copyright removal requests available for download. Digital copyright exchange-type initiatives and Orphan Works schemes are also ripe for creating valuable data.
I have very high hopes for the future of IP data. Increased digitisation means that more data is available in formats that can be relatively easily mined. So, keeping in mind you are what you measure, Merpel would like you to know her vital stats: Hairball average: 1.1 per month, Grooming sessions: 3 per day (summer) 5 per day (winter), CIQ (Cat I.Q.): 17/20 (but she was distracted by a mouse when taking the test.)
And remember, "“Measurement is like laundry. It piles up the longer you wait to do it.” - Amber Naslund