Want to invest in the next big thing? It might be intellectual property. According to the World Intellectual Property Report 2011, published by the United Nations, royalties and license fees for intellectual property outpaced economic growth in recent years. In fact, IP revenues reached… are you ready? $180 billion. That’s 667% growth since 1990 when it was $27 billion, and 6,428% growth since 1970 when it reached only $2.8 billion, although that comes out to a modest, but decent, rate of about 10% annually.
There are some other heartening things in the report. In the foreword to the report, WIPO Director General Francis Gurry makes four critical points:
- Firms are investing historically unprecedented amounts in the creation of intangible assets – new ideas, technologies, designs, brands, organizational know-how and business models.
- Innovation-driven growth is no longer the prerogative of high-income countries alone; the technological gap between richer and poorer countries is narrowing. Incremental and more local forms of innovation contribute to economic and social development, on a par with world-class technological inventions.
- The act of inventing new products or processes is increasingly international in nature and seen as more collaborative and open.
- Knowledge markets are central within this more fluid innovation process. Policymakers increasingly seek to ensure that knowledge is transferred from science to firms, thereby reinforcing the impact of public research. Moreover, ideas are being co-developed, exchanged and traded via new platforms and intermediaries.
This large growth has resulted in new, emerging markets dealing with IP such as brokerages for purchasing, selling, trading, and auctioning IP, consulting companies for managing IP, valuing IP, and supporting IP litigation, and software for analyzing, valuing, and comparing IP.