Monday, April 10, 2017

Why the European Commission Apple decision IS significant for policy and behaviour

In August 2016, the European Commission issued a final decision in its investigation into the way Apple paid tax in Ireland. The sheer scale of the decision was dramatic and made headlines around the world. In the aftermath, analysts said that the ruling was limited to the specific facts around the Apple case and would not apply to other international companies in Ireland.

This may be true, but the reality is that this case is a significant wake-up call. It is an indication of a much larger issue.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monetising the Internet of Things

A lot has been written about the Internet of Things (IoT) with Gartner predicting that the number of connected devices will grow to 20.8 billion by the year 2020. This figure compares with 2.1 billion smartphone users in 2016 and 3.4 billion internet users. I believe the actual number will far exceed those estimates.

Because of the term "Internet of Things", most of the focus to date has been around the “things” that make up IoT. Clearly there is a huge potential market for suppliers of the devices that are connected, switches, networks, cloud storage, etc.

Aside from that tangible value in hardware, the real potential of the IoT is how the “things” interact. As they exchange information, value is being created in the data. This is a new development. Among lawyers, it is just beginning to open new questions. Historically, the laws around data protection, privacy and ownership assumed that a human was doing something with the data. The laws were designed to regulate how those humans would behave and did not envisage scenarios where humans might not be involved at all.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

No, Silicon Valley doesn’t like failure!

I often hear that Silicon Valley celebrates failure. This is a clear oversimplification. What Silicon Valley really likes is success. Huge success! If there are failures along the way, they are accepted as part of the experience.

Yes, I get it. If you always punish failure, nobody is ever going to try something new. Small failures can be a sign that you tried an experiment that didn’t work. 

Monday, June 6, 2016

Innovation is not about Beanbags

In the 1980s, Japan was hailed as an “economic miracle”. There were best-selling books such as Ezra Vogel’s “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America” and SONY President Akio Morita’s “Made in Japan”. American electronic and automobile manufacturers were caught by surprise by the success of Japanese manufacturers.

One thing that became apparent on visits to Japanese factories was that they used impressive manufacturing robots. American manufacturers raced to catch up. They invested in expensive robotics. This was done without looking at any of the less-visible aspects of the Japanese miracle. The investment in robots was an increased expense that did not yield the ultimate competitive benefits in terms of quality or productivity that justified the expense incurred.

I attended a conference in China where one keynote speaker from a large Western multinational corporation described their approach to innovation. We heard about the more than 100 years of history, the thousands of employees and the billions spent on R&D. Then we heard about the big plan for innovation. A team would be given 5 weeks to focus on bringing innovative projects. They would be given beanbags.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Still underestimating China?

The Economist magazine has a piece this week entitled "Patent Fiction". They take issue with the findings in a Thomson Reuters' report "China IQ (Innovation Quotient)" that looks at the latest data on the growth of invention patent applications.

It is funny how they trot out the old quantity-versus-quality cliche. I predicted that response 4 years ago when this shift was becoming apparent. It indicates a dangerous level of complacency.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Ireland to host local division of Unified Patent Court


Richard Bruton, the Irish Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, has announced that Ireland will host a local division of the Unified Patent Court (UPC).

The UPC is a key part of the Patent Package that is currently in the process of being ratified in Europe. Its adoption depends on ratification by 13 Member States.

Ireland's proposed Knowledge Development Box

The 2015 Budget speech by the Irish Minister for Finance mentioned that Ireland is taking steps to develop a "Knowledge Development Box" (KDB). Most people took this as meaning that it would be implemented in 2015. This is not exactly what the minister said.