An investment banker friend sent me a very interesting blog post from Broken Symmetry. It creatively considers an historical analogy, at the intersect of business method and creative process, between 15th Century Venice and modern day Silicon Valley. The piece goes on to discuss comparisons between the two, such as their isolated position from other major metropolitan centers (Florence and Rome, LA and New York), or their aspiring classes of artisans and entrepreneurs. There also exists a parallel between the investors of both places. As the piece discusses, merchant bankers in Venice were ready to work side-by-side with the creative minds of the artisan glass-workers, while venture capitalists in Silicon Valley seek out business relationships with the technology of tomorrow. In both cases, of course, due diligence was and is exercised.
There was a difference, however. As the piece points out, “[t]he Venetians were smart enough to realize even in the 15th century that they would have to feather the nest for new artisans and inventors in order to ensure that a pipeline of new art and technology kept flowing freely.” Aaaah. And the light bulb turns bright.
This simple history lesson reminds me that, above all else, in the gloss and glory of business, finance, and investment dreams alike, we will only turn the page with IP if we “ensure that a pipeline of new art and technology [keep] flowing freely.” Therein lies the very real purpose behind everything that IP lawyers do. We must never forget that intellectual property exists if and only to the extent that it is recognized by a legal system. Whether IP will become a real investment vehicle, a transparent article of trade, or even a continued competitive advantage for corporations depends on its limitations addressed by the legal nuances that also give it life. Whether an inventor, lawyer, author, business executive, or venture capitalist, we must continue to ensure that the pipeline continues to flow; that information is disseminated; that rights are protected; that the public domain is not neglected; that the creative process is incentivized . . .