The business of intellectual property is about the future.

IP assignments and investments are made and IP licences acquired largely in the hope of maintaining or creating revenues in the future.

Clients pay IP lawyers and patent attorneys for the clarity of their vision of future developments in law and technology.

Such professional futurism is a formal area of study in engineering – technology forecasting.

Some of the strongest inklings about the future often arrive in one sentence. When the lightbulb turns on, mountains of analysis gel into a sentence which captures so much worth knowing.


One of those sentences arrived for me at the end of the 1990s. It was this: “Successful software is a user habit.” Think today of FaceBook or how people check email soon after waking and before going to bed. Habit makes FaceBook and email successful technology.

Like mantras, we cherish these sentences. Understanding them can take a second but getting to them years. Wisdom takes time and experience. For entrepreneurs executing on the insights is time critical. But it can take years or decades to do that successfully. Social media existed from 1985 at The Well, but it took another two decades for other entrepreneurs to make it common sense.

Back in 2007 I attended a conference on the future directions of the digital media business. The speakers were excellent. I captured some sparkling sentences that still ring true today.

They’re recorded here under seven headings. The speakers were at the Future of Media Summit held on 19 July 2007 simultaneously in Sydney and San Francisco.

1. Blogs


Mainstream media are adopting blogging more and more. A lot of times it won’t work out because they don’t have the voice that the more successful have in the blogsphere.

Gabe Rivera, CEO, Techmeme.

2. Content over broadband

[What we have in Australia is] not broadband but “fraudband”. [South] Korea is the broadband lab of the world.

Tony Surtees, CEO, Prime Digital Works.

3. Content immersion – virtual worlds


You get behaviour changes when you have the [higher] levels of broadband speed, eg immersive worlds, games and digital goods. … People have become digital natives far faster in Asia partly due to the speed of broadband connection.

Jeremy Liew, Partner, Lightspeed Ventures

4. Content generated by users

Fifty per cent of our content is credibility from our user-generated content.

– Scott-Bradley Pearce, Executive Producer, One in Ten Productions.

5. Content mobility and monetisation

In the mobile world each carrier has had a walled garden with which they are trying to create a complete portal. It’s not a world wide web. They have a more sophisticated payment technology so they can get micropayments [more so] than ISPs could ever do.

Martin Hoffman, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Loop Mobile.

6. Content regulation

The value of DRM [digital rights management] is in tracking who goes there rather than to [ensure you force or] score a transaction.

Chris Gilbey, Principal of Perceptric Pty Ltd.

7. Content globalisation and localisation

The six hours time zone which surrounds Australia will within 10 years be the greatest economic zone in the world. … One in 20 Australians are of Asian heritage. The key point every multinational company is coming to terms with is that Asia is not Asia, it’s many different countries. There are many variations. Globalising the world will not happen. Asia is developing incredible wealth and it’s creating a middle class and the middle class wants branded products. … What is happening is the great strength of the US economy is toppling.

Harold Mitchell, Chairman, Mitchells & Partners.

Graphics credit: Here they are used purely for effect. The full, unedited graphics can be seen in a chapter of Speed @ Work (Australian Institute of Management and Wiley, Sydney, 2006). The chapter is written by Michael McAllum, titled “Strategic thought: getting ahead of the curve”. It emphasises the need to plan and time product and organisational development to boldly anticipate, forecast, invest in and capture new markets.

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Noric Dilanchian