Picking the Top 50 list of the most influential people in IP is never easy. Influence on what? Where? And over what period? Can a big influence in one area, of IP or the world, ever compare with a broader role? Generally in our Top 50 - which we have been running for 10 years now - we prioritise individuals with a core influence, no matter how narrow their remit, and focus on those who will have an impact in the coming months and years.
Some choices are easy. Google has been in the middle of so many pivotal IP disputes across patents, trade marks and copyright that it could qualify for the list three times over. But rather than select three different in-house counsel – or just Fred von Lohmann, as we did last year – we decided to list founder Larry Page. For while challenging IP conventions was never his stated aim, developing such innovative online business models made it inevitable. If you want to scan all the books ever published or photograph every house in the world, you're going to bump up against rights issues.
Putting Page at number one was slightly more controversial, but we think the scope of the issues the company is involved in – also taking in keyword advertising, software copyright, smartphone wars and political lobbying – justified the elevation. Please let us know if you disagree.
Apple was a different proposition, for while the company has been at the heart of smartphone litigation worldwide and notable trade mark cases, several others have shared that influence. More interesting is that so many of the Apple cases involve design rights or user-interface patents – rather than the hidden technologies of networks and servers that have been central to other recent telecoms litigation. British designer Sir Jonathan Ive, therefore, makes our list for his influential product design. As Judge Colin Birss (also listed) said in a recent case, the designs of Apple's competitors are just "not as cool".
Ranking the top 10 individuals in order is a first for Managing IP, but we think it lends some interesting emphasis to those companies, judges, office heads and politicians. Look out too for the five awards given to individuals outside that top 10.
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