Every year, on the 26th of April, the World Intellectual Property Day is celebrated by the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) to raise awareness on the importance of protecting immaterial creations. As the term refers, Intellectual Property aims to “enable people to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create, fostering an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish”. However, with the recent technological developments that make almost any piece of content available anywhere in the world in mere seconds, it's no surprise that controlling copyright infringement has become a very difficult matter.
Though restricting easy access to unprotected creative assets is challenging, the sector faces other difficulties such as the fact that only 5% of the intellectual property records belong to small businesses, with the vast majority of 95% still belonging to corporations. Learning how to implement technology coming from the industry 4.0 in order to make intellectual property accessible to everybody is what will eventually transform the existing systems for good.
The on-demand era is making intellectual property more difficult to protect than ever. Digital piracy and counterfeiting are unfortunately more recurrent than ever. Furthermore, the cultural habit of expecting to have everything in just one click seems to be encouraging a system that is causing authors a lot of damage. Hence, addressing the importance of intellectual property and working towards a correct preservation of creations can make all the difference, especially among the smallest businesses, which are undoubtedly more exposed than large corporations. So, what are the challenges of intellectual property and what technologies are stimulating its development?
Intellectual property and its main challenges today
In a world where creativity competes 365 days a year, 24h a day for the audience’s attention, it is vital that companies protect the content and inventions they invest so much in developing. Especially today, when social media and on-demand services can easily replicate an idea within a frame of minutes. Although specialists are working towards transforming the existing models of intellectual property systems, there is still a long way to go as advanced technologies aren’t being fully exploited. Furthermore, both the private and the public sector are working completely independently, without benefiting from sharing information and common knowledge. Therefore, the second biggest challenge to face is creating a system of intellectual property that works globally, instead of a localized protection barrier that’s limited to a single jurisdiction. The globalization of these systems would eventually result in the integration of intellectual property organizations and law enforcement systems that work towards preventing piracy, which are completely separated today, forcing companies to ask for protection in multiple places. The challenge then lies in achieving an integral method that blends the different parts of the intellectual property world into a single level and drawing a new pathway that unifies the whole intellectual property sector. Or, in other words, to make intellectual property attainable for everybody.
Technology for an intellectually protected society
When it comes to optimizing systems and processes in order to be able to protect creative assets, technology plays an irreplaceable role. First and foremost, advanced technologies facilitate access to information, and second and most importantly, they drive innovation in data protection and intellectual property development. Nowadays, throughout the data that companies and governments are gathering and processing with technologies such as data analytics, artificial intelligence or blockchain, it’s becoming much easier to be aware of the danger of not protecting one's own assets. By merging these exponential technologies, organizations can create the strongest protective systems: while data analytics processes the sensitive information within a frame of confidentiality and extreme security, artificial intelligence works towards facilitating the preservation of the owner’s rights, and blockchain creates a decentralized space where different intelligent property offices are incorporated from around the globe, making it possible for them to cooperate.
The future of intellectual property
Due to the fact that intellectual property involves so many parts, its future lies in establishing solid international collaborations. Creating associations between the organizations that protect against fraud and those that regulate intellectual property, is the best way of evolving into a highly protected society, where copyrights are understood as a growth tool for businesses of every country, jurisdiction, size or industry. Signing agreements between different consortiums, as well as establishing partnerships between the public and the private sector, is what eventually will create the strongest networks of intellectual property around the globe. Technologies such as blockchain, that enable safe collaborations at an international level and provide world-wide access to the information in a non-centralized way, are making these treaties possible.
However, the first step is that the national and international bodies that regulate and protect intellectual property, are working on a more cooperative model.
These institutions should prioritize facilitating easy access to IP systems and public data as well as new services for small and medium-sized businesses in order to encourage them to protect their creations. Hence, they need to become innovation offices.
Although intellectual property institutions are running successful awareness campaigns, there are still some cultural trends that must be considered. In order to evolve into an environment in which creativity and innovation can flourish, society should first understand the value of intellectual property. With social media growing at an incredibly fast pace while turning its content into almost ephemeral, the appreciation of the hard work hidden behind a finished product is needed, now more than ever before.
Understanding intellectual property means giving the accomplished work the relevance it actually deserves and learning to accept that one’s labor has the same worth as others’. Collective consciousness is needed in order to implement technological advances in favour of humankind. Only then, society will be able to fully protect their intellectual creations for good.