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Time for Atlanta to use broadband to create an intellectual depot

Detroit’s bankruptcy took up plenty of space in the media over the past couple of weeks. It made me wonder what type of outside-the-box thinking policy makers employed in figuring out how to bring more revenue into the city.

I’ve also been doing a little thinking about the knowledge economy, specifically how a city can take advantage of the intellectual capital of its residents and provide the world access to that capital while bringing in additional tax revenues. That would call for increases in incomes received by the possessors of intellectual capital.

Experts face two dilemmas. First, they need to be found by people seeking knowledge. They have to be made available. The second dilemma is what they have to share must have a certain level scarcity. In other words if a large number of people already possess the information held by the expert, the value of the information decreases.

There may be a way to resolve both dilemmas using broadband. Broadband access makes easy finding a group of experts. Rather than having to visit the websites of various think tanks, university academic departments, and consultancy offices, a city could create an online intellectual property depot or exchange. Using some program or algorithm, experts can be displayed under certain categories of expertise, side by side, displaying their names, credentials, years of experience, and appointment times for in-person, telephone, or on-line consults.

Here is where the scarcity comes in. The consultant may list on the exchange two main products. First she may list her appointment times where she invites bids for certain slots. The starting bids for each slot increases based on the opportunity costs of meeting with someone during the slot. For example, maybe the consultant prefers working out from 11 am to 1 pm so to ensure that window stays open, she increases the starting bid for that slot.

Another way to create scarcity would be to provide licenses for the one-time and non-exclusive use of patent or copyrighted material owned by individuals, businesses, or universities. This is already being done by The Intellectual Property Exchange International, a trading platform located in Chicago where patents are placed in unit license rights contracts and sold in primary or secondary markets as financial instruments. The concept appears relatively new and there may be more room for entry into the exchange business.

Between Georgia Tech, Emory, Georgia State, Morehouse and Clark Atlanta, there are plenty of professors with consultancies or holding patents that could probably do with the exposure.

About two years ago I participated on a panel during a conference of the National Association of Black Mayors. In describing broadband and its benefits to cities, I argued that cities should act like harbors within the stream of electronic commerce. The knowledge economy is seeing an increasing exchange of intellectual capital, capital needed to address a myriad of problems across the globe. A city that can showcase its intellectual property by making its holders available in that stream is bound to attract more talent and increase its tax revenues garnered from the increasing output that talent can generate.

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I’m feeling Mitt on China and intellectual property

The United States Patent and Trademark Office today issued a notice asking U.S. patent and trademark holders to chime in on the difficulties they may be having enforcing their patents and trademarks in China.

China bashing has been part of the political rhetoric of late, with former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney recently laying in to the Asian Tiger for stealing American inventions. For example, as reported by Bloomberg News, Mr. Romney has called for a free-trade zone for countries that don’t go around dissing American inventors. Mr. Romney has also called out China on violating copyright law as well.

I can relate to Mr. Romney’s concerns. I don’t know if I’ve been hit just by spam or something more sinister, but last week I received three e-mails from an alleged Chinese firm claiming that they were in the process of registering my domain name as a “.cn.” They said that while they acknowledge that I would be concerned about this (like, duh, you think), they wanted to go ahead and register my name so that they could sell goods under the domain name.

They also recommended that I buy the domain name, plus some other derivatives of it, and that they would gladly send the price list.

Hmmm. I can hear the theme from “The Godfather” in the background.

Why would any Chinese consumer buy goods and services from an “” given that the name belongs to a Afro-Carib-Irish guy living in Atlanta with an Anglo-German name, who is a couple shades darker than President Obama?

Also, why should I be forced to buy domain names I don’t want?

I can only conclude that this company wants to bite on whatever intellectual property I produce and pirate it. Granted, intellectual and Alton Drew may not go hand in hand (just ask my four readers), but does that give China the right to force me to buy domain names or steal my writings?

In response to net neutrality debate veers off on copyright tangent

Wow. Talk about a double standard. Content providers, some of whom are very opposed to broadband access providers throttling and prioritizing their traffic, actually want broadband access providers to play post office by inspecting traffic for copyright infringement? Can we really have it both ways?

Well. Maybe. Depending on whether the Federal Communications Commission gets its way on net neutrality. If the three Democrats on the FCC can get Congress to amend the Communications Act so that broadband access providers are defined as telecommunications companies, the law may just lend that type of activity some support.

I base this conclusion on Sec. 222(d)(2) of the Communications Act. A telecommunications carrier can use, disclose, or permit access to customer proprietary network information obtained directly or indirectly from consumers to” protect the rights or property of the carrier, or to protect users of those services, and other carriers from fraudulent, abusive, or unlawful use of, or subscription to, such services.

We don’t want you to ration our traffic, content providers will say, but we want you to read everybody else’s content and we are willing to see you classified as a telecommunications carrier so that you can do it and protect our intellectual property.

So much for the net neutrality posse’s “concerns” for the civil rights of the masses.