Charting the Course—A Discussion On The LES IP Standards Initiative
Friday, December 15, 2017
Panel from left: Bill Elkington, LES President, Patrick Kilbride, Alexandra Rehmeier, Honorable Paul Michel and moderated by Ron Laurie
By Renee McMullen, Communications
A diverse panel of representatives from industry and government, including LES President Bill Elkington, gathered to discuss the concept of Intellectual Property (IP) Standards, the role such standards have in business and government, and where the initiative stands moving forward.
The concept of developing standards for Intellectual Property, and its more elusive aspect of intellectual capital, happened three years ago at an LES Annual Meeting gathering, according to Elkington. There was agreement in the small group that there is chaos in the management of intellectual capital and many don't know how to do it well. It was also agreed that in many enterprises many people managing intellectual capital don't even know that's their function. Elkington asserts that "70-80 percent of the value of for-profit companies is in intellectual capital, but very few people in the modern corporation actually receive any education in the field of intellectual capital management." It is from this premise that the idea to provide a forum for developing a consensus on the practice of intellectual capital management, and how to do it better, was born.
The model for the IP Standards Initiative is the ISO 9001 Quality standard. This management framework has provided a great deal of education to the global economy for over a decade and continues to be revised approximately every three years as the business process standards are read and applied. As this standard has contributed greatly to the assurance that an entity is a quality management organization, it is an excellent precedent upon which to build the IP Standards Initiative. ISO recently convened a committee on Innovation Management standards that includes developing elements around IP management. LES International has been designated a liaison organization to that committee thereby being able to provide comments on the standard. This new standard will be global in nature and development is happening at the highest level of international operations.
The IP Standards project has formed five committees: Intellectual Property Licensing, IP Brokerage, IP Valuation, Intellectual Assets in the Boardroom, and IP Protection in the Supply Chain. As moderator Ron Laurie pointed out, there are levels to the discussion, the distinction between intellectual property that is principally the legal domain versus intellectual capital (also referred to as intellectual assets). "The link between the two is very misunderstood in many companies, especially consumer companies more so than information technology companies." Laurie discussed the importance of the IP community understanding the language of corporate finance. He suggested these elements be highlighted in the development of the IP Standard.
From the government and litigation perspective, The Honorable Paul Michel, Former Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals of the Federal Court, mentioned that the best resolution to a dispute in the intellectual property realm might not always come solely from knowledge of the law, and experts in the industry are better equipped to help settle such challenges "because they understand the business, the economics, the practicalities, and the business opportunities" involved. He stated that, "Standards can restore order, trust and credibility, which is exactly what's needed." Michel further expressed that standards provide a reasonable way to identify "certain behaviors that are just unacceptable." As it relates to legislation, he feels that standards provide "an objective framework of analysis than what we have now." This can be "a new set of lenses to view things through which will get a much better result." His hope is that standards will help public entities—including Congress, the Supreme Court, the Media—in the execution of their jobs, providing them a fair and objective way to examine a situation.
For business and commerce, having IP Standards provides a frame of reference in the discussion of IP and underscores the strength of our economy on the global stage. Alexandra Rehmeier, Senior Manager of Boeing's IP Integration Policy Compliance division, highlighted the importance of having "a common process, approach and language, so two parties can have a negotiation and come to a resolution."
She explained that Boeing has its own standards endeavor with the purpose of improving the IP management process, to reduce the cost and time to complete, thereby improving quality while protecting and preserving the value of IP and encouraging investment and innovation. They are developing a "teaching document" with the hopes that all types of organizations can leverage the information therein for negotiations in licenses, contractual agreements, and M&A.
The global implications of both IP standards were highlighted by Patrick Kilbride, Vice President—International IP, Global Intellectual Property Center at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Kilbride offered his opinion that the U.S. is a leader in IP and listed five features that set us apart from other international communities. These include: 1) We compete and encourage individuals to make their own decisions about their economic priorities; 2) We fail and have a system that enables folks to fail multiple times to build experience; 3) We make markets, including the connection of buyers and sellers; 4) We have an IP system that creates a durable and reliable private realm forming the basis for investment; and 5) We honor, motivate and foster the rule of law. He further stated that IP Standards "will allow discretion to be replaced with discipline."
The panel urged all LES members to join the IP Standards Initiative. Go to the Professional Groups section of the LES website (lesusacanada.org) and select LES Standards.