Several members of the Griffith Hack team recently attended IPBC Australasia 2023, a marquee event on the Asia-Pacific IP calendar designed specifically for IP practitioners, senior executives from IP-owning corporates, as well as key figures from research and government organisations.
Patent attorneys Sarah Cox, Karen Sinclair and Kerry Dick were among those who attended and below, they provide a snapshot of some of the key topics discussed during the conference.
IP education is essential for all businesses – Sarah Cox
Throughout the various panel sessions featuring in-house IP professionals, a common theme arose: education. Practically all general counsels and IP specialists, whether in research entities, universities or corporate organisations, agree that it is critically important to educate all staff, from entry level to senior executives, about intellectual property.
Since both registered and unregistered IP can create and hold value, the people in your company should know what IP is, when it has been created, enforcement considerations and more.
A strong message from the panellists speaking on “Strategising your IP endgame” was about aligning your IP team with all other teams and including your IP professionals in decision-making processes. Your people need to know who to alert about new IP, and when, so a valuable IP strategy can be developed alongside the technology.
In a hypothetical situation given no budget or time restraints, IP teams would relish the opportunity to share their knowledge through the whole organisation and keep their people regularly informed on different aspects of IP.
Recognising the value of intangible assets – Karen Sinclair
The discussions at IPBC demonstrated an increasing maturity and recognition of the broader concept of intangible assets and their business value. Non-traditional or non-registrable rights were the subject of significant discussion. In the opening session “Strategising your IP endgame” speakers referred to:
- the importance of understanding the value of trade secrets, how they are protected and their dissemination controlled within a business,
- developing post patent strategies for market protection, and
- the utilisation of data packages as an asset.
Data as an asset class and as a business risk was also discussed at length in the session on AI. Additionally, the critical importance of reputation (represented by a license agreement for a trade mark) and of software as a copyright class was discussed in the last session of the day “IP crisis room”.
Reference was also made to the use of patents, not in their traditional sense to protect market share, but rather as a tool for relationship building and to demonstrate to the market the capacity of an organisation for innovation. Speakers in the session “Maximising portfolio value and effectiveness” spoke of the significance of having freedom to access a market as much as they spoke of having exclusive access to a market recognising that traditional IP rights are not an end in themselves.
The rapid rise of generative AI – Kerry Dick
Artificial intelligence (AI) was referenced during several sessions at IPBC, highlighting the broad interest around this emerging technology and the uncertainty around its impact on the IP landscape.
The session “Generation AI: what it means for IP” explored this in fascinating detail, with a particular focus on generative AI’s use within an IP firm setting and the associated risks and governance considerations that need to be addressed, along with the opportunities. The panel raised a number of thought-provoking issues for the audience to consider, three of which were:
The importance of understanding current usage of generative AI
It is becoming increasingly likely that generative AI is being used within a business; uncovering this is an important first step. The panel recommended auditing existing usage to understand how and where generative AI outputs are being applied, the technologies that are being used, and the associated organisational risks that a business – or their clients – may be exposed to.
The need for governance
The panel emphasised that developing policies and guidelines to govern generative AI usage is crucial to ensuring responsible and ethical AI deployment. Not only does it help mitigate risks such as biased outcomes, privacy violations, and legal liabilities, it can also foster transparency, accountability and trust among stakeholders, promoting the long-term success of AI initiatives. Important considerations include identifying who is responsible in a business for governing usage; regulatory obligations to staff, clients and associates; and the imperative need for clear policies and processes to develop and to govern future usage.
The importance of education
Educating and training staff about generative AI was discussed as an integral – and often overlooked – aspect of this process. It has the dual benefit of promoting responsible, ethical and secure AI usage, while also empowering staff to harness its potential effectively by understanding its capabilities and limitations. Given the evolving nature of generative AI technology and usage, education on this topic will need to be continuous to keep pace with developments. This session was a valuable reminder that generative AI offers incredible potential, but its deployment needs to be guided by ethics, security, and governance. With the right balance, IP firms can harness the full power of generative AI while safeguarding their information and respecting the IP rights of others.
Griffith Hack would like to thank the team at IAM for staging an outstanding event, and all the presenters and guest speakers who provided their insights.