The Power of Intellectual Property: Expert Insights from a Leading IP Strategist

by | Oct 1, 2023

The convergence of technology and intellectual property is reshaping industries and revolutionising how companies operate, making effective tech management and intellectual property (IP) strategies increasingly crucial to achieve success. To delve deeper into the world of IP, HEADLINER spoke to a motorcycle-riding hardball lawyer who knows all about embracing strategic thinking and leveraging intellectual assets to secure competitive advantages and growth. Yotam Werzansky-Orland knows a thing or two about how to navigate the complex landscape of intellectual property rights. The Israeli-born CEO of KWO Strategy – a Cyprus-based consulting firm specialising in innovation, IP and technology management – has been named for the fourth time as one of the world’s top 300 innovation and IP strategists in the prestigious annual IAM Strategy 300 ranking. More notably, Yotam is also the only Cyprus-based strategist to make the list in the history of the ranking – underlining his solid expertise and significant contributions to the field of innovation and IP management.

HL: In a nutshell, could you explain the concept of Intellectual Property (IP) and why it’s a crucial component in the operations of innovators and entrepreneurs?

YWO: The term Intellectual Property (IP) is a general title for a few rights, each protects a different interest. In laymen’s words, we’re talking about non-tangible assets. Obviously, all IP rights are the product of a legislation process that ends with a specific law which protects a specific right.

The main types of IP are: Patents which protect inventions, such as new products, processes, and machines; Copyrights which protect original works of authorship, such as paintings, texts, movies, music, and software; Trademarks which protect words, phrases, symbols, and designs that identify the source of goods or services; Industrial Designs which protect the aesthetic appearance of objects like the shape, surface, or ornamentation and; Trade Secrets protect confidential information that gives a business a competitive advantage.

IP is crucial for innovators and entrepreneurs because it allows them to protect their creations and prevent others from copying them. This can give them a competitive advantage in the marketplace and help them to attract investors and licensees. IP can also be a valuable asset for businesses of all sizes. For example, a small business with a strong trademark may be able to sell its products or services for a higher price than a competitor without a trademark. And a large technology company with a portfolio of patents may be able to license its technologies to other companies, generating additional revenue.

HL: What are the key considerations for start-ups when creating an effective IP strategy, and how does the approach differ for larger established companies?

YWO: When it comes to crafting an effective IP strategy, the priorities and resources differ between start-ups and established companies. For start-ups, it’s crucial to first identify their core IP assets, be it a unique technology, a distinctive brand, or original content. Due to budget constraints, they must prioritise which aspects of IP protection are most vital for their business. Additionally, conducting thorough market research is essential to ensure the uniqueness and value of their IP. Start-ups should also proactively establish a strong foundation by registering trademarks, filing patents, and securing copyrights early on. Furthermore, exploring open innovation through licensing or partnerships can be a strategic move for expansion.

On the other hand, for established companies, managing a diverse portfolio of IP assets becomes paramount. They must actively assess the relevance and value of each asset, often across multiple jurisdictions due to their multinational presence. Enforcing and defending IP rights against infringement may require substantial legal resources and costs. Moreover, these companies may have the opportunity to generate additional revenue streams through licensing and cross-licensing agreements. It’s imperative for them to continue innovating and adapting their IP to stay competitive in a dynamic market. Additionally, established companies might employ defensive strategies, acquiring patents not only for their own products but also to safeguard against potential legal challenges from competitors. In essence, while both start-ups and established companies benefit from robust IP strategies, their approaches are tailored to their respective size, resources, and business objectives.

HL: Can you share examples of how innovative ideas have successfully translated into commercial ventures or disrupted an entire industry? What can be learned from their success?

YWO: Innovation has been a driving force behind numerous entrepreneurial success stories and industry disruptions. One notable example is Airbnb, which revolutionised the hospitality industry. Founded in 2008, Airbnb introduced a platform that allowed individuals to rent out their homes or spare rooms to travellers. This innovative approach provided an alternative to traditional hotels and accommodations. Through their user-friendly platform and emphasis on creating unique and personalised experiences, Airbnb quickly gained traction. Today, it’s a global phenomenon, with millions of listings worldwide.

Another compelling example is Tesla. Founded by Elon Musk in 2003, Tesla set out to disrupt the automotive industry by prioritising electric vehicles and sustainable energy solutions. At a time when electric cars were largely considered impractical, Tesla focused on creating high-performance, stylish electric vehicles. Their ground-breaking technology, including long-range batteries and self-driving capabilities, propelled them to the forefront of the automotive market. Tesla’s success not only demonstrated the viability of electric vehicles but also pressured traditional automakers to accelerate their own electric vehicle initiatives.

What we can learn from these successes is the importance of identifying and addressing unmet needs or pain points in existing industries. Both Airbnb and Tesla identified inefficiencies in their respective industries – limited accommodation options and reliance on fossil fuels in transportation – and provided innovative solutions. Additionally, they prioritised user experience and embraced cutting-edge technology to create superior products and services.

HL: Artificial intelligence (AI) has made huge strides recently and has become an accessible tool for everyone. What legal or ethical problems does the ubiquitous use of AI bring in its wake and how does it affect IP rights?

YWO: That is indeed a very interesting question, one that has no clear-cut answer yet. I’m currently writing an article that will be published next year titled “AI Generated Content and the Question of Copyright” in which I address the issue, present various opinions and suggest my own. To cut a long story short, just recently, in the US in the case of Thaler v. Perlmutter, the Court held that copyright law “protects only works of human creation” and that “in the absence of any human involvement in the creation of the work”, it should not receive the protection of the law. I argue that the focus should not only be on the degree of human involvement in the creation of the work but that the will and the lack of randomness in the creation of a work by a conscious and willing being, even if it is not human, must also be taken into account in the decision whether to grant copyright protection to that work and in fact grant a proprietary right to a non-human.

HL: What other emerging trends are presenting new opportunities or challenges in innovation and entrepreneurship, and how will they shape the strategic management of intellectual property in the future?

YWO: Several emerging trends and technologies are poised to significantly impact innovation and entrepreneurship in the coming years. One of the most prominent is the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies are revolutionising industries by automating tasks, enabling data-driven decision making, and creating entirely new applications. Entrepreneurs who harness AI and machine learning capabilities can unlock novel solutions and gain a competitive edge. Some other obvious answers are in the fields of blockchain, the Internet of Things (IoT) and 3D printing.

However, I believe that sustainability and green technologies represent a critical and rapidly expanding frontier in innovation and entrepreneurship. These areas focus on creating solutions that address pressing environmental challenges and promote a more sustainable future. Entrepreneurs in this space are developing technologies and practices that minimise negative environmental impacts, conserve resources, and contribute to a cleaner, healthier planet.

In the agriculture and food industry, entrepreneurs are leveraging technology to develop sustainable practices. Vertical farming, for example, utilises indoor, soilless growing systems to produce food in urban environments, reducing the need for large-scale land use and transportation. Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods are examples of companies pioneering plant-based alternatives to traditional animal products, aiming to reduce the environmental impact of meat production.

HL: Cyprus has introduced incentives to attract companies to headquarter on the island and is focused on developing a stronger innovation and tech cluster. What benefits does Cyprus offer companies in this sector?

YWO: From favourable tax structures to access to funding and top-notch infrastructure, Cyprus offers a nurturing environment that fosters innovation and can propel businesses to new heights. Cyprus is already a hub for many technology and start-up companies and has set to attract more foreign companies through various incentives, namely the IP Box which allows IP-oriented companies to enjoy significantly reduced income tax. However, in my humble opinion, the focus of Cyprus should shift from trying to attract foreign businesses to promoting the establishment of native Cypriot-owned and managed start-ups, through early-age education for creative thinking and introduction to technologies.

BIO

Yotam Werzansky-Orland, Esq., is a world-renowned innovation and IP strategist. He was recently named again among the top 300 IP strategists worldwide, and the only one from Cyprus, for his top-tier services relating to the development and implementation of strategies which enable IP owners to maximise the value of their portfolios. (IAM Strategy 300. 2018, 2019, 2020, 2023). Yotam is the CEO of KWO Strategy Ltd., a strategic consulting firm in the fields of innovation, IP and technology. He is skilled in innovation and IP management, strategic planning, venture capital, entrepreneurship, market research and branding both from the business and legal perspectives. Yotam is also involved in the academic aspects of innovation and IP. He is a doctoral student at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland. He is Head of Innovation and Intellectual Property at the Cyprus Centre for Business Research, a member of the Editorial Board of The Market: International Journal of Business, and an Adjunct Professor at CIM, the Cyprus Business School and Bar-Ilan University, where he teaches courses on entrepreneurship, IP and legal aspects of technology management.

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