Essentials of Intellectual Property: Law, Economics, and Strategy

By Alexander I. Poltorak; Paul J. Lerner | Go to book overview

Foreword to the
First Edition

As I write this, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has just released its annual report of the top 10 private-sector organizations receiving patents in the prior year. A comparison of the listing for 2001 to those of past years reveals that the number of patents required to rank first (as IBM has done since 1993) has more than tripled in the past decade; the total number of U.S. patents issued annually has gone up nearly 65 percent; and the proportion garnered by the top 10—all well-known electronics companies—has increased from 7.5 percent to nearly 10 percent of all patents issued in 2001.

Fascinating statistics, but what’s behind them? Simply put, it’s money. Dollars, yen, euros—billions of them, collected in the form of royalties every year by companies and individuals (the late Jerome Lemelson, for example) with valuable intellectual property, principally patents. IBM alone will have received nearly $2 billion during 2001 in IP-related payments, most of it cash, and nearly all of it pure profit. Canon, Hitachi, Lucent, and many other top patent holders enjoy significant returns on their R&D investments. And then there are the software companies—Oracle, Microsoft, and, yes, IBM again—whose products are intellectual property, protected globally by copyrights and earning billions in sales.

-xi-

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