Intellectual Property and China

I found an interesting question on Medium about how to protect your IP in China. Here is my longer answer:

DON’T even attempt to protect your idea in China — or anywhere for that matter.

The Chinese culture is about free access to knowledge and ideas and understands the fact that it’s all about execution very well. Just imagine we stop IP protection radically and just turn our ideas into reality as fast as possible. Imagine we no longer feel safe because of some highly expensive and questionable patents but instead focus all our energy on execution — competing with the copy cats for even better execution and win a market because of our skills not our 1 microsecond brain spark.

WHAT CUSTOMERS SAY

I applied for a patent once, had some of the best lawyer Silicon Valley has and got a rock solid IP protection nobody could circumvent. Guess what customers said: “Good for you but really want solutions where we have options and are not locked in.

THE VALUE OF NOT HAVING A PATENT

Having a patent protects only you. But without a patent you get something that everybody is actually seeking for lifetime: “Market Leadership”. You can only be a leader if you have followers. No follower — no leader. Competition is the best lubrication for well run machines. If you have no competition, you never know if you are really the best or not. Now look around and look for any product that is fully patent protected and you say ‘yes, this is the coolest product on earth’ — even if you find one it is just not really that cool.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT PROTECTION

Ok ok ok — there are products that are extremely hard to develop, very hard and costly to test and if they don’t get protection, they won’t develop it. Well if it is so hard to develop, let followers find their way, have them do their own clinical tests and so forth. At the end even in those cases it broils down to execution.

KNOWLEDGE SHOULD BE FREE

I’m not Chinese and not a particular fan of China even though I very much admire their advances, but I definitely go with their philosophy: Knowledge should be free. And today China is on their way to top Silicon Valley because the communicate even faster, even wider and are even more open than good ol’ SV.

A democracy’s top priority

With the ongoing struggle of the US economy, the inner unhappiness and the many questions arising every day in the public web, I was thinking back and forth over the past 2 years about the essence of democracy and the top priorities of a democratic leader. The list is obviously almost with no end. But running a country is all about focus and complexity management.

 

I think there are three things a well run democracy provides for their citizens:

1) Education

Lowest cost possible education is essential. Education drives innovation and innovation drives the economy. Nobody can predict who are the next innovators. But one thing is for sure: limiting top education to a top class in the society is reducing the amount of possible innovation by order of magnitude. Most of the big tech leader and tech innovations in the US were essentially stemmed by people from middle class or lower families. If a country can’t support broad education it cripples its ability to innovate and as such it essentially reduces its competitiveness on a global scale.

2) Infrastructure

An omnipresent basic infrastructure for clean water, energy, public transportation and communication (i.e. mobile networks and Internet) is essential for a society to work and deliver a high value to the society. Communication, knowledge transfer and interaction via the Internet and mobile communication is in today’s world as important as air traffic was in the 60’s and 70’s. If you can’t go there easily you decouple yourself from the rest of the business world. If you don’t make it easy and encourage people to leverage the global Internet you disconnect yourself from the global business flow.

3) Common sense law

A law is helping citizen to collaborate and live with each other, keep freedom and prosperity. However like education models and infrastructure if it is not well maintained, there is a high risk of permutation that makes the law not the law for the people but against the people. The Headline in Wire Magazine a year or so ago: “Need cash – sue Google” is a funny yet devastating testimony for a law that is out of control.

All the other key needs including Jobs, Healthcare, Freedom…. will fall into its place if the above is a top priority. To the contrary if any one of the above responsibilities are a low priority, there is a high risk a society is at jeopardy.

Separation of state and capital

Very much like the separation of state and church back in the 1700’s a modern society need to care about the separation between state and capital. Societies in capitalistic nations are particularly at risk to outbalance democracy in a way where poor get ever poorer and less and less people get ever richer to a degree that the capital eventually controls what happens in a country and not an elected government.

 

Plausibility check

Jobs & Innovation

If we have many well educated kids from all kinds of levels of our society we will see a lot of creativity and start-ups driving the creativity to new business and new jobs. Jobs can’t be “created” for people to have a job. Jobs can only be created by demand to do things we haven’t done before. Innovation means developing the ability on a global scale and build more than we can consume ourselves.

Health Care

If we have jobs we can pay for healthcare and if we have agile and creative people, they find new ways to make health care more affordable, less complicated, more variety and more option. We can’t “generate” healthcare unless we put it back to a government function.

Prosperity

If the laws of a country help keeping the balance between a young generations innovation and mature capital we alleviate the risk of monopolies and support the growth of a middle class – which is essential for a stable and well balanced economy. If like in some countries over 80% of the food supply is concentrated in 350 brands that are essentially owned by 10 companies who have all one major shareholder in common, we live in a very dangerous system that allowed the prosperity development to get out of synch. It doesn’t make sense to finger point to people and call the greedy – when the system is build to make it happen.

Well – is our democratic model no longer working? No – our world and it’s needs and haves have evolved dramatically and our democratic answers need to evolve as well. Public companies for instance were a great innovation about 100 years ago to let the public participate in the gains of larger companies. Today public companies ruin more individuals than other investment opportunities, or no longer even give access to many citizens and investments have grown to a level of complication that it just doesn’t make sense any longer. Neither the laws to protect investors or businesses nor the laws and rules to run businesses kept up with the evolution of our globally connected business world.

Summary

While this is all very complex, if we distill it down to Education, Infrastructure and Law we can start working on it and get out of trouble easily within a few years.  Just thinking

Axel
http://XeeMe.com/AxelS

 

Monaco Yacht Show — The worlds most prestigious

No question, Monaco hosts the most prestigious yacht show in the world. And being a “yachty” myself it is obviously the perfect match and pleasure to combine my social media business and this outstanding event.

We will starting share impressions, moments, interesting exhibitions as well as trends and many other aspects over the next few month.

A couple thoughts about your plans coming down here:

1) If you are anywhere in Europe, come and see us at Monaco Yacht Show September 25-28 2013 – Fly to Nice, France and hop over to Monaco, it’s just about 30 Minutes away.

2) If you are happening to be in Russia or anywhere in North Africa, think about coming too. It’s about two hours flight to Paris or Frankfurt and just another hour or so down here. And as you know, the Monaco Yacht Show has so much more than boats. You may meet the most interesting people you ever met in your life in just a few days.

3) If you come from China, Australia or the USA, plan a few business meetings all together in Monaco, we are happy to help making some spontaneous connections.

Not in the market to buy a yacht? You got to be kidding me. You won’t get one today anyway. Maybe in a few years from now. Enough time to get all your aspiration in order. But what aspiration if you don’t even get inspired in the first place :)

Xee you here soon

Axel
htt://xeeme.com/AxelS

2020 and beyond

I was recently asked by members of the European Commission about my thoughts when looking beyond 2020. And since I love thinking about long term development, I felt I should share, at least an extract, publicly.

2020 and beyond

Going beyond 2020 I see three plus one major developments. Two are already quite apparent one not so much. You may say there is no way to predict the future that far out. Well it isn’t actually that difficult. The foundation for Personal Computers were laid in 1973 – 10 years before IBM introduced the IBM PC which was revolutionizing the computer world. Internet was created in the 60’s with arpa net even longer before the launch of the public Internet as we know it. Social Media started with groups and forums long before 2003/2004 when LinkedIn and Facebook opened their doors. Cell phones gained huge popularity in the 90’s but my father had a mobile phone already in the late 70’s. In other words nothing that comes “out of the blue” and changed the world actually came out of the blue – but was invented at least 10 years earlier. The art is to identify those and predict the development of those existing technologies and their impact on the world.

Now – I don’t mention energy or environmental development in here because that is one of the challenges we are going through already today and it’s evolution is too obvious and will be a mainstream topic by 2020 – if it isn’t already today.

 

1) Democratization of influence

Our society is undergoing a massive change – probably bigger than any other change in history. With tools like social media but also and more importantly an urge to more individualism and more autonomy our society is influencing itself across all levels and traditional influence from industry or government leaders is rapidly diminishing. Co-creation of our future like co-creation of products today will have a significant impact on our political and economic landscape. The fear of creating an anarchy is pretty unsubstantiated – but the fear of missteps, failure in the experimentation phase is quite realistic. Governments will be challenged to stay involved in the democratization of influence and actually leverage the evolutionary development rather than fighting it in fear of loosing “control”. Governments, more than ever, need to be very clear about their responsibility as a function FOR the public and not a power in itself. By 2020 the democratization of influence will be in full swing and in the following decade democracy will be re-invented. There will be nations benefiting from this development and others will fail to create an integrated democratic model where the government’s role is more of a conductor orchestrating a societies development than leading it or even worst, controlling it.

 

2) Distributed Production & Service Networks

In several keynotes I described a “New Enterprise”. Already today we see the evolutionary development of distributed and rather “linking independent businesses” then “owning a complete process”. For instance: Code is developed by a software shop in India, a reception maybe managed by a “virtual assistance” who could work in Ireland, some of the production is in China and so forth. More and more of those functions get outsources to third parties. The antenna design of most cell phones was created and even patented by a small and creative shop. More and more start-ups and emerging businesses are leveraging those high energy, highly creative and highly productive small businesses, integrating them into their own product strategy. Reseller channels is an old technique to sell but in today’a age even more relevant than ever before. A company like Nokia could be as agile as a company like Apple if they would focus on market needs and designs and not on their own, old and very traditional company structure. A cellphone company doesn’t need to be more than 5,000 employees – Apple has approximately 10,000 in their iPhone group – Nokia has over 100,000. Running a business as a distributed production network means selecting the most creative people – most of them are not employable anyway, selecting teams when they are needed, selecting resources that are required while a project or a product is in high demand and needing to “keep people busy” because you have them on your payroll. It’s part of the human nature that we are thriving towards more individualism, autonomy, independence and freedom.  Significant growth in entrepreneurship is just one facet of that trend. All indications are there that in the next decades Distributed Production & Service Networks will dominate our industries. Businesses and governments should be prepared for that evolution.

 

3) Age Revolution

Fact is that our live expectancy is notably accelerating since around 1900. Fact is that within the last 50 years the acceleration level actually doubled – creating a hockey stick effect. It is more likely than not, that we are on our way to get significantly older than any previous generation. There is a good likelihood that in the next 20 to 50 years we may expect people turning 140 or 150. If average live expectancy continues to grow at current rates – we will see a growth from 80 to 120 years in the next 50 years. The implications are enormous. Somebody retiring at age of 65 would have possibly another 55 years to live – which is longer than the live expectancy 150 years ago. 2020 and beyond Age will be one of the most challenging topics our society, economy and government is facing. While people may say I don’t want to become that old – the trend shows a different development and we just will get much older.

This will change the way we work, we live, we get educated, we adopt changes and the way we think. It may allow much longer term projects, will create a massive experience pool we could not develop in the past but equally a massive problem as much of the experience from the past is no longer relevant. It will change retirement planning, work live cycles, age care and many other things.

 

The next big thing on Technology

Things like social media, Internet, smart phones, TV, Radio, Automobile never came with a big bang. It took years to create the base for the technology, years for making early market entrants successful and than finally we are talking about the big thing. The next big thing can be considered as such when three things are happening: A larger part of the population declares it as a hype that will go away, large consulting firms caution industry leaders that companies will loose billions of dollars because of it and one group of people get very laud about the security risks.

Continue reading “2020 and beyond”

The Social Capital

Empire Avenue has become very popular just recently. It’s a game that plays on ‘social capital’. It allows you to trade based on social capital by buying and selling shares of friends that are active in the social web.  The ‘market value’ or connection score of players is determined by the value they’re contributing to their social web including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, their blog and the engagement on the empire avenue site. Continue reading “The Social Capital”

When the social media bubble burst

Dick Lee asked recently in LinkedIn: “We rarely see people as enthused as they are over social media. Among those recent rare times are: when the high-tech balloon popped; at the height of the housing bubble; just before the market crashed; and when Sarah Palin was nominated for VP. Hey, exuberance can be headiest just before the fall.”

I’d say YES – the social media bubble is about to burst. People are recognizing already that the endless hours of watching the incoming streams from Twitter and Facebook or all the status updates on LinkedIn are hours wasted. All the paid tweets and people or agencies, who have been hired to tweet are not going to contribute to the bottom line. And the fan pages people build to get “fans, followers, connections” are just hopes that it will do something for the business – but it won’t.

Yet, there are businesses who not only survived during the economic down turn but actually showed significant growth. What did they do differently as most are also associated with the rise of social media? The answer is SO SIMPLE that most people will reject the truth and continue to look for the hole grail. The answer is “The become more social with their customers”. Socializing is work, it takes time and focus, discipline and a clear understanding what to do and what not to do. And as 80% of humans continue to look for getting the job done automatically and get rich instantly, they will leave the social web because they just learned again and again – there is no free lunch.

Is that bad? Not at all – the Internet continued to thrive after the bubble burst. The housing bubble burst in the US – and today the US has the cheapest real estate in the developed world – it is only a matter of time when it goes back to normal (you get a mansion in California when you sell your 1 bedroom apartment in Nagasaki).

The biggest benefit of social media is to do more business with more people in a grander geography and in less time than ever before. But it comes at a price. And the price you pay is to be more open, more social, more connected, more interactive, more helpful and more conversational than ever before. And that means you cannot much longer be busy just slicing and dicing your data and aggregate information for even more knowledge about your demographics or aggregate more information to even better target your mail shots and advertising – NO you got to get out there and have a dialog with your customers. No time to do that? You will have a lot of time to think about it when you are fired or your business ceased operations. Being social is work – one customer at a time.

Can you automate?
Automation is sand in the social gearbox.

Axel
http://xeesm.com/AxelS

The New Enterprise

The “new enterprise” as I call it is a network of highly engaged individuals or groups of individuals that may constitute the most successful organizationism in the future – organization + organism = organizationism. However it will be quite challenging to build the first of such “new enterprises” as many potential customers may require an organization they used to deal with: a big company. Only time will tell how this part of the business shift evolves. Here is an article from Gary Hamel “Three forces that will transform management” @ the McKinsey Blog that I highly recommend reading.

Let me share some vision for a structure where innovative leaders may create a company in the following way: Continue reading “The New Enterprise”