Bruce Berman is the CEO of Brody Berman Associates, a management consulting and strategic communications firm he founded in 1988. He has supported 200+ IP-focused businesses, portfolios and executives, as well as law firms and their clients. Bruce is responsible for five books, including From Ideas to Assets (Wiley) and, since 2003, approximately 100 columns for IAM magazine. He also has written on IP for publications such as Nature Biotechnology and Forbes. His weekly observations about trends can be seen on IP CloseUp. In 2016, Bruce founded the Center for Intellectual Property Understanding, an independent non-profit that raises awareness and provides outreach to improve IP literacy, promote sharing and deter theft.
Bruce is also the host of CIPU’s podcast Understanding IP Matters, which explores the intellectual property story of people who have succeeded in the world of invention, creative expression, and brand – some with the scars to prove it. ‘Understanding IP Matters’ looks at the journey from creator to entrepreneur.
The simplest facts are sometimes the most difficult to comprehend. Patent suits are not as pervasive as they are portrayed in the media or by defendants. Remarkably few are filed relative to the number of patents that are active. The necessity to litigate patent disputes to get the attention of potential infringers and hold a meaningful licensing discussion has likely increased the total number of suits filed. If it has, it has not had much of an impact on the net total. This suggests that many patent holders who should be suing are not.
Several carefully watched copyright developments are combining to have a significant impact on the invention as well as the content landscape. A judgment from the Supreme Court of the United States is expected any day that will address the potentially shape-shifting Warhol Foundation “fair-use” suit against rock photographer, Lynn Goldsmith. This decision is also of concern to inventors and patent holders, few of whom see the writing on the IP wall: weaker intellectual property rights are gaining momentum, and lawmakers and the public don’t know enough to care.
The research lab behind the viral ChatGPT chatbot, OpenAI, is in talks to sell existing shares in a tender offer that would value the company at around $29 billion, according to people familiar with the matter, reported the Wall Street Journal on January 5. This would make OpenAI, which started life as a nonprofit and generates virtually no revenue, one of the most valuable U.S. startups. Chatbots have captured the imagination of users and investors alike. They provide fast, succinct, and outwardly accurate responses to detailed questions well beyond the capabilities of Alexa, Siri and Google search. Those queries might include providing the foundation for writing an article, like the one you are currently reading, in the style of IPWatchdog.
Copyrights are the most widely held form of intellectual property. They are also the most infringed. Many creators are unaware their rights even exist or how they can be used. Most do not have a clue how they impact commerce and society. A range of creators and copyright holders, from high school students to Warner Media to Beyonce, individuals and businesses, have generated a cornucopia of content, fueled by faster digital processing and virtually unlimited storage. In theory, most of it is protected under copyright law. Most people, and many businesses, have been known to infringe them, no matter their value, often with impunity. Earlier this year, the U.S. Copyright Office established a small claims system for copyright to slow infringement and prevent rightful owners, small and large, from being routinely ripped off.
Creative destruction, once a hallmark of progressive capitalism, is no longer working. Powerful companies that control software and silo valuable data are impeding innovation and threatening society. That is the conclusion of a recently published book, The New Goliaths: How Corporations Use Software to Dominate Industries, Kill Innovation, and Undermine Regulation. The author, James Bessen, vilifies the impact of software ownership and the ability of patents and other rights to effectively promote innovation and encourage competition.
The rise in the value of crypto currencies in just three years to $3 trillion is vexing to businesses, investors and IP professionals who are struggling to understanding where they fit in. The ascendance of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as an asset class also has caught practically everyone off-guard. Many intellectual property owners believe that these blockchain-based disruptions have created opportunity, while others see a darker and more impermeant scenario. People want to know if NFTs and distributed ledgers are good for IP rights and creators – a self-proclaimed boon to innovation and access – or are they a passing storm?
A new crime drama, The Billion Dollar Code, is a fascinating breakthrough mini-series that illustrates the legal challenges of inventions and inventors in a world where technology giants can refuse to acknowledge the source of ideas they do not control. The popular four-part Netflix mini-series achieves uncanny success not only in depicting an epic legal battle but doing it over four plus hours in German with subtitles and an abundance of algorithm detail and trial preparation. It is reminiscent of Chernobyl, HBO’s award-winning series that turned the complex series of events and failures, both technical and human, leading to a nuclear core meltdown into award-winning entertainment.
From the perspective of the Intangible Investor, 2022 will be a year of new opportunities and transitional growth. IP business models will evolve, and risk and return calculations will become more reliable. In the decade since the America Invents Act (AIA) was enacted, patent licensing challenges have increased for many technology companies and independent inventors. The neutering of software, e-commerce and algorithm patents are at least partly responsible but, amazingly, software-related patents represent almost two-thirds of U.S. grants for the first half of 2021.