On 26 April every year, the intellectual property community around the world celebrates the World Intellectual Property Day (“World IP Day”).
World IP Day is celebrated every year to “promote discussion of the role of intellectual property (“IP”) in fostering and encouraging innovation and creativity, and to celebrate the contribution made by innovators and creators to the development of societies across the world”.
The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has named the theme of this year’s World IP Day as “Creativity: The Next Generation”, as it wishes to highlight the role that the next generation of visionary innovators and creators will play in shaping and improving the world.
“What is the next big thing to come?” has become the hottest technology phrase.
It is a known fact that technology moves so fast that today’s technology could become outdated by the time we master it.
Some people cannot wait to get their hands on the latest gadgets, some are curious to find out every new development in the market, many want to know how the world will look like in future, what the new innovations that lie beyond us are, and who would create a song that would become the next online sensation after “Gangnam Style”, which went viral and took the world by storm by hitting 1.5 billion views on YouTube.
No one would have thought that a mobile phone can actually function as a computer, combining phone, camera, video camera, music player, GPS, word processing and Internet browsing functions into a little device now widely known as a smartphone.
Who would have thought that an online social networking website, Facebook, that was developed and launched from a Harvard dormitory room, would become the most visited website attracting more than 1 billion users worldwide.
Google recently introduced Google Wallet, which turns your phone into an electronic wallet, where you can make a payment just by tapping your phone against a Near Field Communication (NFC) point of sale terminal at checkout.
By 2015, Google plans to launch Google Glass, an eyeglasses-like wearable computer that can interact with the Internet through voice commands. It is also expected that, by 2025, Google driverless cars will hit the road in many major countries. What used to be science fiction that we see in Hollywood movies will soon become reality.
The successful take-off of all these inventions and creations can partly be attributed to the protection given to IP rights.
IP rights play an important role in stimulating creativity and innovation, which in turn leads to economic, cultural and social advancement. IP protection also encourages the dissemination of knowledge and provides a guarantee of source and quality to consumers.
Different types of IP are protected in different ways, for example,
- literature and arts such as books, music, films and software are protected as copyright;
- technological inventions are protected by patent rights;
- distinctive brands that distinguish one product or service from another are protected through trademark rights; while
- the unique design or external appearance of objects are protected via industrial design rights.
The IP rights framework provides incentives and motivation to innovators and creators to invest time, resources and creative thinking into producing new inventions.
Without IP protection, there would be no incentives for film makers to make excellent movies; for artists to produce vibrant music; for inventors to invent new innovative products; or for scientists to develop life-saving drugs that can improve and save millions of lives.
Exclusive patent rights are granted to the inventors for a certain period of time in exchange for full disclosure of their inventions and technologies which in turn encourage others to continue to innovate and develop existing products.
Studies have also shown that countries with strong IP frameworks and protection experience the greatest innovation, creativity and economic growth.
South Korea is a good example.
Samsung has now become a household name and a dominant player in the electronic industry. There are millions of fans of K-Pop culture around the world. According to the World Bank’s statistics, South Korea’s GDP per capita has grown from USD$2,000 in 1970 to USD$32,000 in 2012.
Thomas Edison invented and developed, amongst others, the phonograph, motion picture camera and a long lasting electric light bulb that greatly influenced life around the world. Vaccinations have saved the lives of hundreds of millions of people. Music now forms an integral part of our lives.
Today, some 2 billion people are connected on the Internet for work, play, communication and entertainment. All these technologies, inventions and creations have had a profound impact on many peoples’ lives. They all stem from someone having a visionary or creative idea to shape and improve the world
The future, therefore, lies in the hands of the next generation, and it is hoped that the next generation will make the best use of all these technologies to change the world for the better, and the benefit of humanity.