Darkness and Light
13th April 2014
The start of Cipher
The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface. Let there be light. The light was good and so from that moment on light was separated from darkness. The light was called “day” and the darkness was called “night”.
From the earliest days there has always been a strong preference for light over darkness, but this trend has yet to be adopted in the world of intangible assets, and particularly patents.
The vast majority of humanity knows almost nothing about patents. By the time news has travelled from the specialist IP world light years away, all that can be heard is stories of epic battles (aka the patent wars), mythical creatures (aka patent trolls) and tragic and unexpected accidents (aka the patent cliffs).
Until quite recently, this probably did not matter. The world was more interested in “real” property, the stuff that can be seen and touched. There has been plenty for everyone to do getting to grips with land, stocks and shares, without having to worry too much about “intangibles”. But the world has changed. To companies in many sectors, intangible assets now account for more than 70% of enterprise value. We now live in a knowledge economy, the digital age, so things need to change.
In order to bring about change, it is necessary to consider where we are, and to where we need to get. The destination is easy to imagine. A place where IP is a recognised and fully functioning asset class, behaving in the same way as all other assets. Where IP has an ascertainable value, can be bought and sold and used as security for debt. Where IP risks are identified and mitigated, with the full and active participation of the insurance markets.
We also know where we are. Still largely in the dark as evidenced by a recent European Commission Report on how difficult it is to value IP and a UK IPO initiative establishing why banks are unable to lend against IP.
However, these and many similar reports not only describe the problem but also hint at the solution. Information and education. For as long as the only options are expensive IP specialists or Google patents, there is no easy way for banks, accountants, lawyers and insurers to engage.
Our view is that the modern day equivalent of Genesis is Big Data – the miracle solution to every problem, from simultaneous translation to what to read next.
From an IP perspective, Big Data presents the opportunity to gather together all data relating to IP and IP related events (such as litigation and licensing) and “to extract new insights and create new forms of value in a way that changes markets” (from Big Data, A Revolution That Will Transform How We Work And Think).
We have established Aistemos because we believe that Big Data is the catalyst that will help the IP asset class evolve from what it is to where it needs to be. What we are doing is following the traditional recipe of first gathering together all data and then harnessing the power of data science and machine learning to extract new insights and create new forms of value.
The aim is simple. To change the way intellectual property is understood and exploited, so that organisations can make better decisions, create new opportunities and manage risk. Or more simply, to bring IP out of the dark.