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This chapter summarizes scenario planning relating to intellectual property (IP). Future scenarios are stories created to describe alternative future outcomes, each a plausible example of what might happen under particular assumptions (see Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005). Participants in scenario planning develop these stories of possible outcomes through a process of identifying the driving forces and uncertainties existing today (McNeely 2005, p. 62). The intention of scenarios is to consider a wide variety of possible futures rather than to focus on the accurate prediction of a single outcome (Evans et al. 2006, p. 6). Thus, future scenarios are not predictions, forecasts or projections. Projections need to be grounded in empirical evidence and accepted assumptions about trends. Since IP comprises such a broad spectrum of legal rights, each subject to trends of uncertain duration and consistency, few credible projections relating to the future of IP exist. Given the complex driving forces and multiple stakeholders shaping IP and human development, scenario planning may present an interesting alterative tool for exploring the future.
Section 1 introduces scenario planning as a tool for planning processes pertaining to IP and development. Section 2 discusses the most ambitious scenario planning process so far in the IP arena, conducted by the European Patent Office on ‘Intellectual Property in the Year 2025’, along with other scenario work addressing IP globally. Sections 3 and 4 explore how scenario planning has been used to address particular themes on IP and human development, such as the future of the public domain and the implications of new technology. Other potential themes for scenario planning are suggested along the way. Section 5 describes the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Development Agenda and suggests how scenario planning might help the multiple stakeholders clarify future directions for this agenda.
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