I’m excited to be launching a new book, Intellectual Property Strategy, tonight at Harvard Law School. (If you’re in Cambridge, MA, USA, please feel free to come by Austin Hall East at HLS at 6:00 pm this evening for the event and a reception thereafter or tune into the webcast.)
The discussion tonight will cover two bases: first, the substance of the book and second, the format of this book, and possibly others, into the future.
On the substance of this book, I will make a few claims. The basic claim is extremely simple: organizations should see intellectual property as a core asset class rather than as a sword and a shield, as the traditional mantra would have it. I argue also that IP strategies should be flexible; geared toward creating freedom of action; and inclined toward openness where possible, at least in the information technology field. These basic claims are geared both toward for-profit and non-profit firms. There’s a chapter in the book devoted to the special case of the non-profit, which often needs an IP strategy just as much as for-profit firms do. The flexible use of IP can support the missions of non-profits in important, distinct ways.
- The smartphone OS wars are the most obvious example of how IP matters. It’s big business for huge firms. The acquisition by Google of Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion (thanks, SJ, for the typo-catching) in cash in August, 2012. The hundreds of millions of dollars paid to Intellectual Ventures as licenses stand for another example of the growing importance in commerce of this field of law. The multi-billion-dollar markets for the licensing of trademarks and patents in a broad range of fields is yet another. These examples make the case for treating IP as an asset class. And the work on IP strategy should be seen as core to the work of the organization, not something to be left only to lawyers outside the firm.
- There is a strong connection between our work in youth and media and the matter of intellectual property strategy. We know that youth attitudes toward intellectual property are shifting rapidly over time. The recent passage of the America Invents Act of 2011 points to the dynamism of the space. These changes demonstrate the need for flexibility in IP strategy over time.
- The use of IP in libraries and museums is a third important case. I’ve been working actively in the field of libraries, including service as director of the HLS Library and chairing the work to develop a Digital Public Library of America, over the past several years. In the case of libraries, the question of how much to digitize of our collections is an important problem. My view is that the digitization, contextualization, and free distribution of our library holdings is a way to use IP as a way to fulfill the specific mission of a non-profit that is devoted to access to knowledge.
I especially am grateful to colleagues Terry Fisher, Eric von Hippel, Lawrence Lessig, Phil Malone, Jonathan Zittrain, who will respond to the book and presentation. Also, the book project would be nowhere near as much fun, or as good, without the partnership of June Casey, my colleague in the Harvard Law School Library, who has been nothing short of extraordinary. And Michelle Pearse, Amar Ashar, and their teams have been wonderful in setting up this event. It’s an amazing group of colleagues!
On the topic of the format, I am excited to talk about multiple versions of the book. 1) There is, of course, the traditional form of the book that someone can touch, pick up, and read in the ordinary way. There’s also the digital form of that same book, which can be rendered on a Kindle or an iPad, which gives more or less the same experience. 2) There’s a form of the book that is like an Extended Play album, or a DVD that has “extras” at the end. On the MIT Press web site, one can access video interviews and a series of case studies, for instance, which expand on the argument of the book. See, for instance, the videos here on the MIT Press web site.
And 3), most experimentally, I have been working with a great team on a distinct version of the book that functions as an iPad application. The idea is to embed these case studies and videos directly into the text of the main form of the book. The iPad app version allows for many different ways through the text; connections to the open web; and loads of fun and interesting embedded links. The idea is to rethink the format of the eBook from the ground up, to add in born-digital elements by design rather than the equivalent of putting up a PDF into an e-reader format. It’s still in beta mode, but we will demo it tonight.
This short book is part of the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series. It’s been fun to work with Margy Avery and her team at MIT Press on this experimental project.
Please join us if you are free!