I'm in currently London where many of the city's buses are carrying a tart advertisement for POM 100% Pomegranate juice, a medicinal beverage produced by the Californian based POM Wonderful pomegranate drinks company. The ad contains the image of a torn noose with the message:
CHEAT DEATH: The antioxidant power of pomegranate juice
Cheating death was also the subject of a conversation I had today with King's College Professor David Llewelyn, one of Britain's leading authorities on intellectual law. Llewelyn, who is a writing a book about intellectual property entitled Invisible Gold --introduced me to the concept of "IP balance of payments" which refers to a country's import and export of products legally protected either through patents, copyright or brands.
Llewelyn explained to me that there is a quartet countries -- USA, UK, Japan and Sweden -- currently carrying what he calls an "IP balance of payments surplus". Every other country in the world, then, is carrying an IP deficit -- meaning that they are importing more IP protected products than they are exporting. As Llewelyn suggested, this is the real "battlefield" of the 21st century, where countries will either invite or cheat economic death. He explained that high growth countries like China, India and Korea are all challenging the dominant quartet and it's from this international war over IP that the next generation of global economic powers will emerge.
Llewelyn also suggested that the we are all, as individuals, participants in a kind of Darwinian IP struggle for survival. The next frontier, he explained, is in the development of branded individuals who will use IP law to protect their unique identities in the digital economy. Thus Llewelyn advised me to register my own uniqe brand as The Anti-Christ of Silicon Valley (TM) -- to guarantee the safety of my invisible gold.
Just as countries have an IP balance of payments, so individuals too carry either a surplus or deficit of IP. The new global elite of the 21st century will, of course, have the healthiest surplus. To cheat death, then, I would advise you to work on your personal IP balance of payment. Legally defensible identity may well be a better guarantor of immortality than even the antioxidant power of pomegranate juice.