Everywhere we go, we are surrounded by the fruits of intellectual property (IP). It’s in our cellphones, desktop computers, tablets, cars, buses, music and television. It’s in our medicine cabinets and hospitals, even our grocery stores. It touches almost every aspect of our daily lives. The knowledge and human creativity encapsulated by this IP makes our modern world possible.

And yet, few people think about IP in personal terms. It’s often seen as something for specialists and businesses; a set of arcane rules imposed for unfathomable purposes.

At the Global Agenda Council on Intellectual Property, we are committed to expanding the way people think about IP. Our 2011-2012 Annual Report describes our work on this topic. Here are some highlights.

IP for the Poor and Marginalized: No discussion of IP would be complete without recognizing the limitations of current systems. Traditional IP systems need working markets to function. But in many parts of the world, effective markets aren’t possible due to extreme poverty or other barriers. That’s why the Council has undertaken a report this year on ways custodians of IP can make the most of their knowledge to help raise living standards for the least fortunate.

Mechanisms like advance-purchasing commitments, patent pools and global responsibility licensing can help overcome market failures and enable impoverished people to benefit from modern, life-saving technology.

But to use these mechanisms effectively, we must understand how and when each one works best. This study will address these questions in a comprehensive way, while also providing a compelling business and social case for engagement in this domain.

Vision 2030: IP continues to permeate all fields of interest and all layers of society. Our vision for the future is a world where IP is no longer a topic reserved for technical or legal circles, but where everyone on the planet sees shared value in our global IP systems.

Vision 2030 strives to carry this message around the world. With the support of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), we have commissioned a Vision 2030 video to provide a short, accessible introduction to the ways IP improves people’s lives and propels human progress. And not just in the developed world – developing countries increasingly realize that they rely on and benefit from advanced IP systems just as much as everyone else.

The Vision 2030 video and accompanying white paper will be used at conferences and events across the globe to drive home this message to people everywhere.

The Council will continue to expand these and other agendas in the coming year. We invite everyone to investigate the Council’s work so that we can build a better world together.

This is only one of the many Global Agenda Councils. We invite you to read our full reports.

About the authors: David Kappos, Undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office; James Moody, Executive Director of Development at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).