More businesses are coming to see that their intellectual assets are at least as, if not more, important to their continued growth as their financial holdings. But to ensure inventions simultaneously protect the company from competitors and expand its profitability, managers must adopt a more dynamic and detailed approach to identifying the most promising portions of their portfolios.
Intellectual property awareness is on the rise across the business community, but the resources available to patent managers are only expanding modestly - if at all. According to Fenwick & West LLP patent attorney Antonia Sequeira, it is thus far better to allocate deeper investments toward a few of one's most commercially viable innovations than to employ a "shotgun approach" seeking basic coverage for each and every idea.
Whether through dedicated intellectual property tracking software or less formal classification measures, companies must have a means of continuously assessing the commercial prospects of each asset to live out Sequeira's vision. And although managers may be hesitant to make the associated investments in asset valuation and patent filing during the company's formative stages, it could hardly be more important to their firm's sustainability.
"Because of the great potential value of a company's intellectual property, I believe that a company should invest in identifying and protecting its intellectual property, but should view the investment as a type of insurance policy," attorney Alan Minsk suggested in a recent guest column for Corporate Counsel. "That is, treat the investment as a way of purchasing protection against a business problem that may arise in the future, or at least consider it as a source of leverage that will make handling the problem easier and less expensive than it would be otherwise."