The internet has made it easier for individuals and companies to access information across various online platforms. This has led to users thinking that any information available online can be reused, republished and reproduced since it was available on a public domain. As with the acceleration of digitisation, intellectual property in the digital age has grown significantly.
The creator economy has flourished excessively as people are able to create intangible assets, or intellectual property (IP), to be featured online. With this availability, IP protection must be considered to ensure that it does not only provide protection of the intangible assets, but provides creators, innovators and companies alike a safe space to thrive in this fairly new environment. As an added value to IP, blockchain technology can help establish a proof of existence, creatorship and ownership of intellectual property by timestamping and tracking computer-aided design (CAD) files.
The rise of digital innovation and IP protection
The rise of digital innovation has brought more benefits than ever to companies and creators, however, IP protection is an area that could be potentially forgotten. According to a research conducted by Reuters, an estimated 70% of new value created in the coming decade is forecast to be based on digitally-enabled platforms. As companies and creators thrive on a digital space, it is crucial for them to protect their assets and provide value to these assets. And as the digital realm grows, IP becomes more vulnerable to theft through greater ease of counterfeit and copying.
The new digital normal
Companies are looking to maintain or grow their digital capabilities in a post-covid era. In Singapore alone, there has been a 20% increase year-on-year in companies undergoing digital transformation since the pandemic. The pandemic has not exactly been the easiest period of growth for any company, however, the demand for increased digitisation, technology and IP protection will further push innovation and the adoption of new technology models online.
As mentioned previously, blockchain adds value to IP protection. The issue with traditional contracts protection schemes is it is often untraceable and hard to enforce. Whereas smart contracts, which is where blockchain comes into play, can automate processes and significantly decrease costs.
Business and IP in the digital age
Understanding the value of IP assets and ensuring they are protected is mandatory for companies looking to thrive in a digital ecosystem. It is also crucial for companies to ensure that IP rights created in the process of going online are aligned with the business processes. One such example is CADChain, which technically protects trade secrets like designs and CAD (Computer-Aided Design) data from unauthorised access while providing legal protection, enabling businesses to avoid a long, legal contracting process, and most importantly: still allowing for collaboration, secure sharing and asset tracking – This means that the result of this collaboration will be co-owned and this leads to new business models where data tracking is the basis.
Through implementing these technologies, businesses can ensure their IP is well-protected even within countries that may not have robust IP laws in place – China and the US, for example, have online courts that accept blockchain-based proof of ownership/copyright and this means that it’s becoming easier for non-China based companies to “sue” Chinese companies for IP infringement.
The current state of IP protection in Singapore
Robust protection and strategic management of IP will enable companies and individuals to fully reap the benefits of innovation. Singapore ranked 11th out of 53 in the world in the 2020 US Chamber of Commerce’s IP index. The high value of IP also has companies increasingly scrutinising laws countries have in place to protect IP rights. For a robust country like Singapore, its key strengths include an advanced national IP framework and efforts to accelerate research and innovation in order to stay ahead of technological growth in the region.
Having said this, companies globally should actively play a major role in identifying potential IP-related risks that may fall through the cracks. Risk to IP associated with technology transfer is dependent on the type of IP being transferred and the form of the collaboration planned. It is essential for businesses to thoroughly identify potential risks and necessary clauses to prevent IP violation. Aside from relying on contract clauses to protect their IP, businesses should also look to implement IP protection technology. Therefore adopting blockchain technology to prove ownership and creatorship of CAD files is the current and future advancement of IP protection in the digital era.