Protecting IP in Global Supply Chains

Tech, Policy, and Best Practices

Event Live Stream

On December 8, 2021, the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR) convened an event on securing intellectual property in supply chains, with an emphasis on the use of emerging technology to improve security and traceability. The event served as the report launch for an NBR Special Report entitled “Guardians of Intellectual Property in the 21st Century: The Global Supply Chain Industry” authored by Steven Carnovale, a leading expert on risk management in global supply chains.

Dr. Carnovale presented the report’s key takeaways. He emphasized the importance of the human factor in protecting supply chains, the breadth of the risks across various functions of supply chains, and the value of establishing international standards and best practices for protecting IP in supply chains. He also noted the challenges created by increasingly global and complex supply chains, and pointed out that the pandemic’s disruptive effect on supply chains has highlighted their importance to the modern economy.

Following Dr. Carnovale’s presentation, two distinguished experts on supply chains provided responses to the report and offered additional insights. Dr. Maria Jesús Saénz, an expert on the digitization of supply chains, emphasized the value of leveraging digital platforms and emerging technologies such as blockchain to share knowledge about supply chain risks and develop new best practices. Dr. Saénz also highlighted the potential applicability of AI in addressing the risks posed by the human factor to IP. Since many of these technologies are already being used in supply chains for various forecasting and monitoring applications, Dr. Saénz argued that they could easily be integrated to strengthen IP protections as well. Bradley Martin, an expert on national security and supply chains, emphasized the fact that risks in supply chains can quickly become national security issues with effects reaching across the entire economy. Dr. Martin also pointed out that policy responses have been inhibited by the lack of a specific actor in the government with the authority and knowledge to oversee supply chain issues. He urged the designation of an authority within the government to take point on these issues, as well as a mechanism for collaboration between the government and industry on addressing related national security threats.


Opening Remarks and Moderator

Alison Szalwinski, Vice President of Research, The National Bureau of Asian Research

Report Presentation

Steven Carnovale, Professor of Supply Chain Management, Saunders College of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology

Expert Responses

Maria Jesús Saénz, Director, Digital Supply Chain Transformation Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bradley Martin, Director, RAND National Security Supply Chain Institute

Speaker Bios

Steven Carnovale served as the Principal Investigator for this project and primary author of this report. Dr. Carnovale is an Assistant Professor of Supply Chain Management at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Prior to joining RIT, he served as the Nike Professor of Supply Chain Management at Portland State University. He is a supply chain strategist and econometrician specializing in risk management and global sourcing and production networks. Dr. Carnovale earned his Ph.D. in Supply Chain Management from Rutgers University. Prior to his academic work, he co-founded a consulting firm and worked in operations management in the IT sector.

Bradley Martin is the director of the RAND National Security Supply Chain Institute, and a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. Martin retired from the Navy as a surface warfare Captain after 30 years of service, including four command tours. In addition to his operational tours, he served on the staff of U.S. Forces Japan, the OPNAV staff as an operations analyst, and most recently as the Navy coordinator for participation in Joint Staff and OSD requirements and resources forums. His subspecialties included operations research, operational logistics, and strategic planning. Prior to joining the Navy, he achieved a doctorate in political science from the University of Michigan, while working as a research assistant for the Correlates of War Project.

Maria Jesús Saénz is Director of the Digital Supply Chain Transformation Lab at the MIT Center for Transportation and Logistics, which researches new collaborative paradigms that arise while implementing emerging digital technologies in supply chains. Dr. Saenz also serves as the Executive Director of the MIT Supply Chain Management Master Programs. She teaches various courses at the Master, PhD, and Executive Education level on digital transformation and supply chain management. Dr. Saenz received a PhD in manufacturing and design engineering, and an M.Sc. in industrial engineering from the University of Zaragoza. She has led supply chain management innovation research projects for the European Commission and companies such as Coca-Cola Femsa, P&G, Carrefour, Clariant, Dell, and DHL. Her work has been cited in MIT Sloan Management Review, Forbes, the Financial Times, Supply Chain Management Review, and more.

Alison Szalwinski is Vice President of Research at NBR. Ms. Szalwinski provides executive leadership to NBR’s policy research agenda and oversees research teams in Seattle and Washington, D.C. She is the author of numerous articles and reports and co-editor of the Strategic Asia series along with Ashley J. Tellis and Michael Wills. Prior to joining NBR, Szalwinski spent time at the U.S. Department of State and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Her research interests include U.S. alliance relationships, U.S.-China relations, and the implications of great-power competition for U.S. alliances in the region. She holds a BA in Foreign Affairs and History from the University of Virginia and an MA in Asian Studies from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.