The value of ideas in the digital age

I’ve been thinking about the internet, intellectual property law, no such thing as a new idea.  Rake (who apparently edits Hillary Clinton Quarterly) recently commented about my thoughts on this and spurred some thinking…

We’re told that you can’t legally own an idea.  But in some ways it looks like we are heading that way.

WPP trademarks Voltage(TM).  A company trademarks Digital Engagement(TM) … years after Unilever used it internally. Another claims Employer Brand(TM). Granted, trademarks generally only protect the mark for use in a certain disputable context (e.g., business process etc.).  And the expression of an idea, as we know from copyright 101, is protected from the moment of creation. 

There are more patents on a new Audi than it took to put a man on the moon.

There are those who think that that’s pretty neat (especially the chaps at Audi).

The internet makes so much information available and increases transparency in wonderful ways.  Yet it also acts as a pretty powerful tool for the technocracy/digeratii.  If your search engine results are higher, you basically own the idea (regardless of IP laws, when you think about it).  Or do you? Or can you?

My thought is this: whatever you think you invented or thought of, you probably weren’t the first one there (unless, of course, you were Philip K. Dick). But if you have money and lawyers, you can buy the idea and protect it.  And if you have good search engine optimisation, you can go one better.  So the value of an idea is

(I) = T +[(reg) * (seo)] 

where I = the economic value of the idea, T = the inherent value of your idea, reg = the value of registration and seo= the effectiveness of search engine optimisation.

I’m sure this topic has been covered elsewhere in greater, better detail by far wiser heads than mine.  I haven’t wikipedia’d or google’d a thing this morning, and I won’t, either.  Get it?

Copyright (c) 2007 by kpk.  All Rights Reserved.  All Reservations Righted.


One thought on “The value of ideas in the digital age

  1. Great formula! Perhaps in some areas today the “ownership” of ideas — whether legally or de facto via SEO — is at best tenuous. I’m something of an old timer, I think, but my impression is that much of what is taking place in marketing (certainly online via social networking tools), amounts to an end run around those legal and search ranking walls. If consumers don’t care about them, then they don’t really matter, do they?

    The entreprenuerial soul will find a way, and new ways are being hatched as I write this. Perhaps I am too easily persuaded that change is either here now or just around the corner, but this post had me thinking about this topic. I don’t know this lady but some of her ideas intrigue me. Perhaps Porter is not really dead, just being reincarnated in someone’s garage.

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