Intellectual Property and Frontier Technologies
The last two decades have seen an explosion of technologies that are transforming how we work and live in an increasingly interconnected digital world. The emergence and merging of frontier technologies is at the heart of what is sometimes also termed Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0. Frontier technologies are changing how we do business, how we innovate and create and the rate of change is increasing exponentially.
Frontier technologies provide opportunities for economic growth. In order to harness these opportunities for all, we need to ensure that the intellectual property (IP) system continues to foster innovation and creation and that the systems for IP administration evolve.
The field of frontier technologies is rapidly evolving and there is no agreed definition. However, frontier technologies share some common features. They operate at the intersection of radical scientific developments and real-world implementation. Futhermore, they are changing the way we communicate, solve problems, provide goods and services, create and do business.
Frontier technologies include:
- digital technologies, such as the Internet of things (IoT), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing
- physical technologies, such as autonomous driving, 3D printing and hardware innovations and
- biological technologies such as genetic engineering, human augmentation and the brain-computer-interface.
While AI is currently the most prolific new technology in terms of the number of patent applications and granted patents, the Internet of things is estimated to be the largest in terms of market size. It is followed, again in market size, by big data technologies, robotics, AI, 3D printing and the fifth generation of mobile services (5G).
Data and intangible assets are the bedrock of our new, digitalized world. IP is rapidly gaining increasing importance over physical assets.
The IP system that we have today was developed with a focus on human creation and innovation and to encourage the development of technologies that enabled production process and trade of physical products. The IP system was also designed when the speed of innovation and creation was much slower than it is today.
One of the important tasks that we face today is to ensure that the current IP system continues to promote innovation in the age of frontier technologies.
At WIPO, the IP and Frontier Technologies Division primarily aims at facilitating discussion and knowledge building among Member States and other stakeholders on the impact of frontier technologies on IP to support well-informed policy choices and to provide practical tools and guidance to help us all navigate IP questions in the new digital world.
The WIPO Conversation on IP and Frontier Technologies is the main strand to that engagement.
We also develop practical guidance and tools relating to frontier technologies and IP and assist in the knowledge transfer and technology adaptation of platforms and tools for IP administration that are utilizing frontier technologies.
If you would like to get involved, sign up for the next session of the WIPO Conversation. Registration for the Fourth Session of the WIPO Conversation on September 22 and 23, 2021 on “Data – Beyond AI in a Fully Interconnected World” is now open.
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