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Inventors' Forum

Collaboration Amongst Small and Mid-Sized Enterprises

The evolution of intellectual property


Enabling all members of the invention community to share ideas and brainstorm opportunities to improve the intellectual property system.

Individual inventors and small and midsized businesses comprise the majority of patenting activity, earning nearly 15 times the number of patents per employee as large enterprises. They are a heterogeneous group in geography, technology and industry, with little opportunity to participate in the invention system with one cohesive message.

To help give voice to this "silent majority" and ensure the reforms such as patent quality are appropriately balanced for all constituents, IBM will hold an "Inventors' Forum" throughout the spring of 2007. This online initiative will enable participants to share ideas and collaborate on ways to improve their involvement in the intellectual property system.

Patents have become a principal means of establishing value for the creators and users of knowledge-based assets.

As vital as patents are to large companies such as IBM, they are just as vital to smaller entities whose businesses are built around a smaller number of patents. These firms often lack the resources to effectively and productively navigate the process and rules for obtaining a patent, maintaining ownership, and then converting patents into marketable products and services.

IBM is the patent leader, earning more U.S. patents than any other company for the past 14 years. This leadership carries a certain level of responsibility to ensure the system works for all participants and continues to foster a healthy environment for innovation.

"With individuals and smaller companies comprising a significant percentage of the invention that occurs around the world, it is important that we provide a forum to understand their concerns and issues if we want to improve the overall health of our patent systems," said John E. Kelly III, IBM senior vice president of Technology and Intellectual Property.

The results of the project are likely to be published upon its conclusion. Any publication will follow the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License and approval will be obtained from the participants.

If you are interested in learning more about the Inventors' Forum or would like to sign up to participate, please click here.