IP Management Strategy: 5 Best Practices for Leveraging Your Intellectual Property

Intellectual Property Management

Intellectual property may be the most valuable asset your company owns or controls. Protecting it is critical, but it can also be a powerful tool for driving your business forward. Discover five best practices for leveraging

1. Align your IP strategy with your business goals

The foundation of any successful IP strategy is having a clear understanding of how it serves your broader business objectives. Can it bring in new revenue streams or capital? Solidify a competitive advantage? Build beneficial alliances?

Bringing intellectual property in line with the rest of the business can help identify opportunities to streamline costs, create new revenue streams, develop products, and more.

Once you decide on the purpose of your IP strategy, you’ll be in a position to assess how to move forward with the greatest effectiveness.

2. Decide on an offensive or defensive approach…or both

A “defensive” IP strategy focuses on protecting your exclusive rights to particular technologies, designs, and processes, while an “offensive” one seeks to extract maximum revenue from your IP.

These strategies aren’t mutually exclusive, but depending on your business model, one may be a better focus than the other.

For example, companies that emphasize R&D and product development may find a defensive strategy useful for blocking competitors from following suit, ensuring market dominance and the ability to charge premium rates.

On the other side of the spectrum, those that own a diverse portfolio might be better served by aggressively licensing, selling, or eliminating IP assets, partnering with companies to bring them to market, or encircling the competition.

3. Consider using your IP to create additional revenue streams

The decision to pursue licensing agreements is up to each individual company, but it has the potential to yield significant revenue. Depending on your portfolio, licensing can generate millions annually!

If increasing revenue in the short term is essential to achieving your company’s business goals or if you have intellectual property that you don’t intend to bring to market, this might be a good tactic to consider.

Your IP can also be used as a bargaining chip in strategic alliances and original manufacturer agreements, as well as make your company look more appealing to potential buyers and investors.

4. Use IP to increase your brand’s perceived value

Patents provide quantifiable evidence of your company’s innovation and technological leadership. That leadership has the potential to influence customers, suppliers, and employees to see your company more favorably.

Remember Intel’s campaign for their Pentium processor? Whether it was a superior technology is debatable, but as a result of aggressive advertising efforts that highlighted their patented technology, they earned three times the profits of their competitors.

5. Have the right resources in place

The waters of IP can be muddy and your organization must be prepared to encounter a variety of situations, from infringement suits to dealing with copycat technologies.

Make sure you have the right resources in place ahead of time to ensure you can respond to opportunities and threats as soon as they happen, while proactively working to avoid damaging situations as much as possible.

These efforts can be bolstered greatly by optimizing your use of internal and external resources. Strong internal IP leadership is critical and can be greatly complemented by specialized external resources to help streamline processes.

How are you using your intellectual property? Consider using IP portfolio management software to organize and start leveraging your assets more effectively.

Peter Ackerman

Founder & CEO, Innovation Asset Group, Inc.

Sufi religious leader sues Roberto Cavalli for trademark infringement

Intellectual Property Management

Roberto Cavalli SpA, an Italian luxury fashion house, has recently been sued by Nader Angha, a leader of the School of Islamic Sufism, for trademark infringement, according to Bloomberg. Angha uses what he calls "the sacred emblem" to identify religious services on and items like books and coins. He registered the mark in May 1987. According to the School of Islamic Sufism's website, the sacred emblem encompasses many meanings, including the name of the first disciple of Islam, the first verse of the Surah Al-Baqara, the name of God and the secret of breath.

Angha alleges a Cavalli logo that appears on perfume bottles, watches, shirts and other garments infringes his trademark for the sacred emblem. The Cavalli logo looks like an upper-case "H" with the legs curving inward on top and bottom, according to Bloomberg, as does the sacred emblem. Angha says Cavalli's use of the logo on unclothed models tarnishes the sacred emblem for which he holds trademark rights.

The suit Angha filed asks the court to bar Cavalli from using the logo and award profit attributable to infringement as well as monetary damages. Angha also wants the court to cancel Cavalli's U.S. registration of the logo in question as a trademark.

Enforcing World Cup IP through Facebook most successful

Intellectual Property Management

Most World Cup viewers accessed coverage through licensed broadcasters, but many took to unauthorized sources to follow the sporting event, according to intellectual property news site TorrentFreak. Pirate streams come through many sites, and FIFA contacted many of these sites before the World Cup even began, asking them to ensure unauthorized coverage was removed or prevented as soon as possible.

Content production firm Viaccess-Orca monitors these broadcasts and sends takedown notices when necessary. Up to June 27, the company sent 2,000 takedown notices to various outlets related to unauthorized World Cup streams.

"The success rate varies per content platform but overall we manage to get 35 percent of the streaming links disabled before the game ends," David Leporini, Viaccess-Orca executive vice president of marketing, products and security, told TorrentFreak. "I think this is a great success rate, especially compared to direct download sites."

The success rate at getting streaming links taken down was greatest at Facebook, where about 51 percent of takedown notices led to streams ending before the game did. Viaccess-Orca's efforts have been impressive, according to the company and others, but unauthorized viewers still numbered in the hundreds of thousands for each World Cup game.

US Supreme Court rules on software patents

Intellectual Property Management

The U.S. Supreme Court made its first decision in decades on software-related intellectual property, according to Bloomberg. The court ruled software developers cannot get a patent for implementing an abstract idea on a computer.

During the case in question, Alice v. CLS Bank International, the justices rejected a patent claim for a computerized system that limits the risk of a participant in a financial transaction evading its obligations. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court that the patent was too broad, covering a "fundamental economic practice."

Justice Thomas also explained the court was not changing any rules, but applying existing law to the patent claim in question, according to Businessweek. Regardless of the fact that rules have not changed, this decision clarifies how intellectual property applies to software patents.

"Merely requiring generic computer implementation fails to transform that abstract idea into a patent-eligible invention," Justice Thomas also commented in the ruling.

Many commentators see this decision as a blow against patent assertion entities and their ability to seek licensing fees or legal rulings against other companies on the basis of certain technology and software patents.

FTC investigating drugmaker generics deals

Intellectual Property Management

The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating pharmaceutical deals that delay the sale of generic drugs, according to Bloomberg. In these transactions, brand-name drugmakers compensate generics companies to delay sales of medications. The FTC calls these arrangements pay-for-delay settlements, and they have historically been considered legal. However, in June 2013, the Supreme Court ruled antitrust rules may prohibit these agreements.

The FTC estimates this practice costs consumers $3.5 billion annually, and exists as a means to secure market exclusivity through a means beyond intellectual property protections. Drugmakers say these arrangements actually get drugs to consumers on average 60 months sooner than waiting for patents to expire because drugmakers agree on a shorter delay with generic producers than the law requires, according to Bloomberg.

"They seem hell-bent on having patent settlements with considerations be presumptively illegal," Ralph Neas, president and chief executive officer of the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, told Bloomberg. "Just because manufacturers reach settlements, including settlements with consideration, that could be the best that can be achieved under a particular set of circumstances."

The FTC continues to investigate these agreements and may sue companies for disgorgement of revenues as a result, according to Markus Meier, head of the FTC's health care division.