The European Patent Office engaged in a two-year futuring project on futures for intellectual property rights in 2025, interviewing 50 key players – including critics – from the fields of science, business, politics, ethics, economics and law. Their opinions were sought opinions on how intellectual property and patenting might evolve over the next fifteen to twenty years.
Four primary scenarios were developed from the projects activities:
- Market Rules (business): The story of consolidation in the face of a system that has been so successful that it is collapsing under its own weight
- Whose Game? (geopolitics): The story of conflict in the face of changing geopolitical balances and competing ambitions
- Trees of Knowledge (society): The story of erosion in the face of diminishing societal trust
- Blue Skies (technology): The story of differentiation in the face of global systemic crises
These scenarios are driven by five driving forces that create the most uncertainty:
- Power: “globalisation has redefined this power structure, with established sources of authority – such as governments – challenged by the many new powerful actors that are forming alliances and cutting across traditional boundaries”
- Global Jungle: “economic, social and political competitive flattening of the world between a multiplicity of players that include countries, regions, hotspots and city states, market sectors, global companies, organisational and business models, consumer markets and workforces, business and universities as well as cultures. In this global jungle, there are many who are ill-equipped to adapt.”
- Rate of Change: “The growing divide between the short and long-term goals leads us to ask: How do humans and their institutions adjust to cope with the rate of change?”
- Systemic Risks: “There are also major risks created by our dependency on the complex natural and man-made systems that support humanity.”
- Knowledge Paradox: “The transformation of data into information and then into knowledge – information that can be utilised to build capabilities – is also far from straightforward. This raises the question: As information becomes increasingly abundant, what knowledge has value?”
More is available in the free “Scenarios for the Future” compendium, which is available from the EPO website.