The Shining Light of IPGOD?
Whilst working on updating the RAI’s Regional Competitive Index for Innovation, I’ve been exploring IPGOD, the Australian Government’s Intellectual Property Government Open Data available through data.gov.au.
The IPGOD datasets include over 100 years of Intellectual Property (IP) rights administered by IP Australia. As with all data, it requires a degree of work to put into a useable format, but results of the effort can be illuminating.
I’m expecting that IPGOD’s geocoded records can be used to shed a light on relative levels of innovative activity in regional Australia, but as a starting point the chart below displays the trend in trademark applications in Australia since the end of the Second World War.
Without wishing to contribute to the annals of spurious correlations, the historical pattern shows a series of sharp declines coinciding with recent economic downturns. As the chart shows, applications for registration of trademarks dramatically declined with the early 1990’s Recession We had to Have, the mid 90’s Asian Financial Crisis, the 2000 Tech Wreck and the 2007 GFC.
This observation led me to ask whether trademark applications might be a useful indicator of economic activity and what the characteristics of that indicator might be.
This thought is by no means ground-breaking – indeed others have considered this question previously – however it does bring into focus the possibilities of using administrative data to provide an evidence base for public policy discussions.
As the long-overdue Australian Government open data policy progressively comes into effect, previously difficult or costly to access administrative data is increasingly available for research and analysis.
If used thoughtfully, open data sources such as IPGOD provide the opportunity for all of us to bathe in the light of evidence.