Perceptions of IP: is this the beginning of the fight-back?

The IPKat is delighted to announce the forthcoming launch of the Intellectual Property Institute Paper “Perceptions of Intellectual Property: A review”, which was written by his friend and colleague Dr Roya Ghafele. The Institute, building on her findings -- that show how hostile are the attitudes held by many towards IP rights -- is moving forward with a new initiative. the formation of an IP Brand Development Group. This Group thus far comprises Philips, IBM, Microsoft and GE, with support from both the UKIPO and the USPTO.

The launch takes place on Tuesday 2 December 2008, hosted by Lewis Silkin solicitors, 5 Chancery Lane, London (you can find it here). Doors open at 3.00pm for a 3.30pm start.
If you would like to attend, please email Anne Goldstein at the IPI and let her know of your interest.

Fuller details of Dr Ghafele and her paper, the notion of IP as a "tainted brand" and the Institute's reponse can be found here
The full text of Dr Ghafele's paper -- which makes depressing reading for the IP community -- can be downloaded from the Institute here
Perceptions of IP: is this the beginning of the fight-back? Perceptions of IP: is this the beginning of the fight-back? Reviewed by Jeremy on Sunday, November 16, 2008 Rating: 5


  1. Dearest Jeremy, after reading it, I find the paper depressing for a very different reason: to me, it is a depressing part of a PR effort by those who have rightly brought upon themselves disapproval, through what our friend Hugh Laddie has aptly described as an insatiable appetite for every greater IP rights. Rather than try to change the behavior that has led to criticism, apparently the effort is to deny, through advertising, the reality.
    Your chaver as always,
    Bill Patry

  2. The worst thing one can do against this phenomenon is starting initiatives (i.e. the IP Brand Development Group) together with the worldwide hated multinational brand owners (see, Microsoft, Philips, etc). The hostility against IP comes unequivocally from the fact that people relate IP with big players, playing with their IP in order to consolidate their egemony in the marketplace.

  3. I disagree! It seems to me that the people who owe it to us the most to explain why IP rights are a Good Thing are those people who are most regularly in the firing line. Either they will be able to come up with knock-out reasons for IP being a good thing or they will be forced to re-evaluate their own conduct in the light of the justifications which they articulate. In any event, it seems to me that if there is one bunch of people who can't hide when this debate takes place, it must be the big battalions.

  4. Despite IP is basically a compromise aimed to allow the world's progress, as IP practitioner you can't deny that the final purpose of setting up a strong IP policy by multinationals is just obtaining bigger portions of the "cake", the cake being the market. Big companies exploit what it was conceived (at least theoretically) as a fair system only for their own benefit, which is, in any case, the way the system works: you innovate and then disclose and I will give you market exclusivity for a number of years.
    I don't refuse that big brands play an important role in the functioning of the system, but nobody would be ready to admit that they do that with the aim of contributing to our progress. IP detractors perceives IP just as a strong tool for multinationals, an instrument aimed to consolidate big economies against little players. As a result, reasoning in marketing terms, an "IP Brand Development Group", a nice title which says nothing, formed by big IP players will only send the same message to IP detractors: in the best of the cases it will look like a marketing tool, i.e. selling of their good face, which will no produce any result at all among those critics; in the most of the cases, it will look like "we want to reform because we want more marketshare, less competitors and, as a result, more money". Instead of letting the big ones taking this sort of initiatives, why don't we explain the IP detractors that under present system, the only way to let our world go farther is the IP compromise? Why don't we bring nice examples of something that would have not seen the light without the existence of the IP system? And why don't we, practitioners, scholars, universities, governments, etc., try to find and eliminate those "holes" in the IP system that, giving room to big companies for acting as monopolists in the marketplace, finally contribute to give reasons to those hating IP?

  5. To Fabrizio:

    Practitioners do the job of locating "holes" by attempting to exploit them to the benefit of their clients. However, they have no power to fill them - that's up to the governments once these holes have been brought to their attention.

    Problem is, most hole-filling exercises involved about 5 times more concrete than is necessary and lots of overspill covering the good law. Practitioners then complain about the damage done by the hole-filling. This of course leads others to accuse the practitioners of defending the hole when they were only complaining about the collateral damage.

    Basically, we can't win...

  6. A short message from Roya Ghafele:

    First of all a big thank you for vividly discussing the paper. There are though a few things I wish to clarify:
    1) A major finding of my research is that the current discourse on IP is strongly driven by a language of battles and fights, it's the language of football. Having discusses with Dr Eagleton-Pierce from the LSE there was 1 common pattern we found in this discourse:
    It is strongly GENDERED.
    2) The point of my paper was not to say Ip is good or not good, the point was to analyze how people perceive IP. The main finding is it is perceived through a strongly GENDERED perspective.
    3) Any type of branding activity needs to integrate this very important element, otherwise it is doomed to fail. Furthermore, I agree with some readers that there is a need to deliver clear cases where IP has been managed in the public interest rather than just design a new brand image. I guess in branding this is called "keeping the promise of the brand".

  7. As a gendered male, I find the proposed branding that comes out of the initiative very masculine, and very wrong too.

  8. Well, William, propose other ways. its always good to have a fresh eye on this.

  9. To Anonymous:
    "why don't we explain the IP detractors that under present system, the only way to let our world go farther is the IP compromise?"

    I agree. However the IP detractors will put forward Open Source, Creative Commons and so on (all based on copyright in one way or another by the way) as strong evidences than "less IP makes the world goes faster and better". What IP lacks, in my opinion, are compelling projects framed in a well articulated discourse to prove your point. Do you have one ?

    Also, as stated by Bill and other, some are jeopardizing the whole system by abusing it, and my advice to "reasonable" IP practitioners is to start to distance from them and their outrageous claims, in professional groups and other occasions. My humble (and may be naive) opinion is that cleaning the IP house by ourselves is the first and necessary step to restore confidence.


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