World Intellectual Property Report 2022 - The Direction of Innovation

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The World Intellectual Property Organization's World Intellectual Property Report appears every two years or so with a different theme.  In 2019 it was The Geography of Innovation: Local Hotspots, Global Networks. in 2017 Intangible Capital in Global Value Chains, in 2015 Breakthrough Innovation and Economic Growth, in 2013 Brand - Reputation and Image in the Global Marketplace and in 2011 The Changing Face of InnovationThe title of the latest report which appeared on 7 April 2022 is The Direction of Innovation.

The "direction of innovation" is defined on the first page of the report's executive summary as "the combination or sum of all the decisions individuals, !rms, universities and governments make on which technological opportunities to pursue at any one time."  The report analyses patenting activities over the last century and observes that it comes in phases.   In the early 20th century the automotive industry prompted a surge in transportation inventiions, in the middle of the century there was a surge of pharmaceutical invenetions, in the late 20th century a surge in information and communications technology inventions and in the first two decades of the 21st century there is a surge of inventions in artificial intelligence, big data and other digital technologies.

The report considers the reasons for those changes of direction,   Sometimes these are obvious, particularly in the short term, such as the need for vaccines and therapeutics to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Longer term changes of direction are harder to predict and do not necessarily respond to social needs.  There is an obvious need for clean technologies and responses to climate change but it is not clear that such need will be met.   One of the contributors to the report suggests that space can prompt a surge of inventions in that sector particularly as governments around the world are investing in that sector.

Anyone wishing to discuss this article or the direction of innovation generally is welcome to call me on +44 (0)20 7404 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form.

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