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Consumers understand IP is
THE KEY TO
I N NOVA T ION By Don Rosenberg,
Legal Counsel ,
Qualcomm Cor p., USA
The state of innovation in our global eco nomy is strong. For now.
Around the world, everyone loves a nd praises innovation. Corporations an d govern-
ments, marketers and educators, promote it as th e key to survival and prosperit y.
For consumers, it is the catal yst for individual product purch ases that in total add
up to swings in the gross domestic prod uct of one economy or another. It is the key
ingredient driving the following questions : is this product or service new-and-improved
enough to make my life better or easie r? Is it superior to rival products or s ervices?
Is it worth more of my money?
Cars, home appliances, information and entertainment electronics, business equip-
ment, clothing – name almost any ind ustrial sector and you will nd rivals tr ying to
out-innovate each other and repeatedly of fering accolades to the power of “innovation.”
But some kinds of innovation af fect human lives more than others.
A dynamic the consume r rarely thinks about but that governments must conside r is
that the most exceptional kind of innovation, the res ult of inspiration and hard work
and signicant investments of time, mon ey or both, can earn what is sometimes
considered a more venerated n ame : invention.
WHAT IT TAKES TO INCENTIVIZE I NVENTION
Yet far too many policymakers have forgotten what it takes to ince ntivize the hard work,
investment and creativit y that bring new inventions to life. Even as we celebrate the
merits of innovation and laud the growin g signicance of a knowledge-based e conomy,
it has become too easy to take for granted the le gal and economic frameworks that
made the technological wonders of modern life possible.
Take the mobile phone, which was found to be the most useful invention of all
time by more than 70 percent of respondents to a rece nt global poll published in
TIME magazine. Today’s smartphone, in fact, is not just one invention but the product
of hundreds if not thousands of the m. Every week, it seems, new smartpho nes appear
that have their own unique features that we, as con sumers, value. And the marketplace
is the metric we use to measure which fe ature is most preferred or which manufacture r
does a nicer job desig ning it. Sometimes a new function wins consume rs’ hearts, and
sometimes it’s an original form – the lo ok, the feel, the buttons – and sometimes it’s
a combination of the two. We base our decisions on these distinctions.
But what about the scien ce and engineering that make sma rtphones possible in
the rst place, that allow hundreds of mil lions of people at any given moment to
converse with friends lo cated anywhere in the world or to call up key bus iness