Joff Wild

The IP Finance blog looks at a recent article in The Economist on the launch of the Tata Nano and bemoans the lack of IP insight in the piece. Particularly, Neil Wilkof, who wrote the blog, complains that it is just the latest example of the mainstream media not understanding IP and so not helping senior management to understand it either, in turn making it harder those who do understand IP to get their message across. His point being, I guess, that senior managers do not read specialist IP magazines, blogs and other types of publication, and so depend on more general business stuff for any insigts they are going to get. Wilkof concludes:

Truth be told, we work very hard at trying to get our management students to treat IP as one component of the management mix, sometimes more crucial, sometimes less crucial to the success of the particular company and its activities. This means that we try not to be either a true believer or mere cheerleader for IP rights. In doing so, we hope that the sources of media information and manner of media presentation upon which managers may rely in fashioning their view of the business world will assist them in integrating IP within their larger managerial concerns. From the point of view, I wish that The Economist had done a bit better in connection with its treatment of patent filings and the Tata Nano.

Now I can understand Wilkof's frustrations, but as a journalist I feel I must defend my co-professionals. If journalists do not get IP and report it badly - or not in the way IP professionals would like (sometimes the two are not the same) - I would argue that it is because those inside IP do not make it accessible enough. If IP professionals are not able to make IP relevant to senior management or to journalists or to anyone else, it is no good blaming anyone but themselves. That may sound harsh, but there you go. To get journalists to take IP seriously, you need to explain it to them in a way that they will understand, find interesting and relevant to their readerships. If you don't do this, they will just not listen - why should they? On top of that, you need to understand how they operate in terms of deadlines, word counts and story cycle, and how they compete with each other - internally as well as with rivals on other publications. And so on. My experience is that while there are some in IP that get all this, there are many, many others who do not. But until they do, my belief is that nothing much will change.