These are interesting times for developments and investments in emerging tech sectors. Ford invested $1 billion in Argo AI, and Fiat Chrysler teamed up with BMW and Intel in the race for the driverless car market. Facebook filed for a patent to make augmented reality glasses, putting it in competition with Microsoft’s Hololens and Snapchat’s Spectacles. The limits of cloud computing are beginning to emerge while the uses for 3D printing continue to grow each day to fabricate items like clothing or home construction materials. Genomics firms are suing each other over patents covering the sale of DNA analysis machines. In the Bay Area, The Mercury News reports that California is the leader in green tech but that the strong economy is putting more emissions in the air due to commuters – creating yet more challenges and opportunities.
Managing your organization’s intellectual property portfolio is just as important as managing your business. Anyone managing a business understands the importance of maximizing the return on investments in employees, equipment, and products, but many organizations overlook or shortchange the IP.
Intellectual property is the capital of ideas. It is everything left over after cash and tangible assets, which these days is most of any given company. It is “intellectual” because it is value that’s created from the neck up. It is “property” because it can be legally protected, bought, sold, traded, donated, collateralized or otherwise controlled.
The term “innovation stages” tends to conjure up the vision of end-to-end development of intellectual property, from conceptualization straight through to patent approval. One of the most significant periods within those stages, however, is the invention disclosure period. Invention disclosure is a process in and of itself, with its own sub-stages and steps. IP management software makes a significant impact on the disclosure process, so we’ll hone in on its specific sub-stages for the content of this article.
There are some factors in your competitive marketplace that will always be out of your control, like a competitor’s introduction of brand new technology, or a radical change in consumer trends and tastes. Those factors will certainly influence how much product you’re able to move and revenue you will generate once you introduce something to the market, but there are other factors that can effectively raise the value of your IP by lowering the investment costs. Three primary influencers on IP development costs are the hours devoted to the invention disclosure process, the labor costs associated with those hours, and any barriers, mainly rooted in internal communication, that prevent organizations from introducing their product to the market.
In business environments that are fueled by innovation, diligent budgeting and spend management can mean the difference between sinking and swimming. While introducing new intellectual property (IP) can increase a business’s net worth from a revenue standpoint and by increasing the likelihood of procuring investor funding, it’s by monitoring resource investments that a business can successfully budget for the future.
Performing an internal intellectual property (IP) audit is vital for businesses hoping to maintain visibility into the revenue and expense attributed to their IP portfolio. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), formal IP audits should be conducted both during pivotal events for the organization, such as a merger, and in response to internal changes in strategy, personnel, etc. However, it is a good idea to perform regular reporting and “informal” audits to ensure production and innovation efforts are measuring up to the organization’s overall strategy, too. Regardless of the type of IP audit, there are a few important characteristics to analyze that act as indicators of success for IP Management.
Sometimes circumstances outside of our control lead to business closure, the unwinding of strategic partnerships, sudden cost reductions, or all of the above. In the various situations where a company is facing divestment, it tends to be expedient to “throw the babies out with the bathwater” with little regard for the intellectual property. This is a potentially massive error. Aside from possibly losing out on more value, overlooking IP in a divestment situation can lead to myriad forms of litigation - from shareholders, licensees and licensors, vendors and suppliers, and the very business organizations or partnerships you’re shedding. It’s safe to say that intellectual property management plays as significant a part at IP termination as during IP inception, growth and maturity. Consider the following in order to mitigate some of these concerns.
As with any facet of business — administration, sales, product development — data analysis and reporting is going to be key to the intellectual property management process. Depending on your process, your intellectual property can go through several stages of development, deployment, and maintenance. Considering the sheer volume of that undertaking, it’s no wonder that some organizations lose track of their IP’s life stage. Are you one of them?