"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity" Albert Einstein

18 Apr 2020

During the last century, several recessions have impacted the whole world sharing similar devastating consequences but varying in their magnitude. In 2008, the world was hit by an unprecedented global financial crisis which was considered by many experts to have been the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Economists have introduced several theories on how to approach and overcome recessions, yet it is has long been believed that the most effective practices can be categorized under four main categories:

Assistance Mode: 
Where companies rely on government support, either financially or through introducing new legislation which can pose new opportunities. In fact, recently, over $2 trillion stimulus relief package during the last 2 months were offered by the US government.

Attack Mode:
Some companies tend to focus on litigation to make up for their revenue reduction. Such litigations can be based on infringement and/or contract breaches. This similar to when MGA Entertainment Inc. filed a copyright infringement against Mattel Inc., which ended by Mattel being rewarded with a huge compensation back on 2008. Also Apple Vs. VirnetX which ended in over $ 500 million paid by apple, under what they called “Patent Troll”. 

Transaction Mode:
Assignment, mortgage, franchise, licensing and Intellectual Property (IP) Valuation to get in new funds and/or investors. In many cases, IP licensing provide the main stream revenue, as in the case of Ericsson who are getting almost $ 1 billion from licensing its patents.

Surprise Mode: 
In this approach companies tend to invest more in R&D and focus on innovation to create a need to its customers and consumers, and offer an unprecedented value to its products. Similarly, HP was indeed established during the Second World War back on 1939. Also IBM introduced the first personal computer running the MS-DOS early 1980s where a recession hit the US during 1981-1983.

The most effective approach among all four is the last option, which focuses on creating an innovative product, either by its function or its design. Many examples can be given of such an approach, as in Fortune Magazine (launched during the Great Recession), the iPod (introduced just after September 11 events), Ketchup (1876), GE Fluorescent Light Bulbs (1970) and many other examples. In fact, many businesses were actually established during recession times, this explains why almost half of the Fortune 500 companies were indeed founded during recession years. 

Intellectual Property Rights (IPRS) is usually the answer to overcome recessions, it will definitely help soothe the effects on your business. It is not necessary to have an invention to get the best of IP, it could be a new branding (Trademark) to attract new customers, new designs for your products by introducing creative shapes and different sizes, or even a trade secret as in a food recipe. It could be also a different way of handling your IP portfolio, as some might consider IP revision, such as; abandoning non-essential and costly IP rights, Cross Licensing, and Patent Pooling. 

With Covid-19 affecting our businesses and life style, we don’t seem to know for how long, but it will definitely have its mark and maybe for a long period of time. In these days, we need to take action and consider the right approach to follow in an attempt to take advantage of these difficult times, and no better approach than investing in your IPRs. Many believe that having a difficult day is indeed an opportunity.

Despite the numerous crises that will hit our world, we will always be ready to plan a comeback. This will not be the end of the world as we know it, this world is too precious for us, and this will not be the last pandemic we have. On several occasions, humans succeeded in overcoming previous challenges that threatened our existence, and today the COVID-19 threat is no different , especially that this time we have the knowledge, science and technology to challenge it and overcome its danger. We will be able to beat this virus, and no better way to do so other than IP, which would be the result of extensive R&D until a cure is found and a vaccine is developed. 

"To stay ahead, you must have your next idea waiting in the wings."  Rosabeth Moss Kanter

By: Amro Hattab
Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP)
Executive Director - Jordan Office

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