It’s been a great honour to be a member of the IAM Strategy 300.  I was there in the first group (the IAM250) in 2009, and have been there every year since.  (Thank you so much for the previous nominations and votes of confidence.)

I think the IAM300 is a great way to let the world know about those at the top of the IP Strategy game and I’m absolutely delighted that this year’s selection will finally include people in in-house roles too.  Congratulations to Joff, SJ, Gavin and the team for a wonderful job.

As for me, my practice has changed, I no longer have 22 people in however-many countries around the globe.  It’s just me and my fantastic support team.  Apart from a handful of smaller clients that I can’t resist, I tend to spend more time working further up the chain, and more in the background these days, and I don’t have time for all of the marketing / business development we used to do.

There are many ‘up and coming’ IP Strategists who would cherish membership in the group and so it’s time to make room for them.

Best of luck to all of the nominees (and yes this blog will continue as and when I get time).

 

 

 

 

Back

To all of those people kind enough to pause and read my blog posts from time to time, thank you very much for your patience.

I’m now back from 14 months traveling around Australia with my family and am busily catching up on things for my clients.

The trip was incredible, of course, and perhaps if you’re interested I can give you a few highlights over a beer at the next conference I see you at.

I will soon be resuming the posting schedule at duncanbucknell.com, so stay tuned and thanks again.

Analysis

Strategy without analysis is like turning up to play a sporting match when you don’t know what sport you’re playing, what equipment to bring, the rules, who your opponent is or indeed where to show up for the game.

It’s not uncommon for far reaching errors to be made due to a simple lack of analysis.  The people involved may know what to do but never get that far because they didn’t pause and think.

Sun Tzu advocated analyzing oneself and the enemy according to a suite of weighted factors to come up with a score.

You obviously need good information in order to conduct good analysis.  What should you analyse? Start with the goal you have in mind – make it as specific as you can.

Then ask lots of questions.  Surprisingly, the ability to ask good questions is more important than having ready made answers.

I use a toolkit of question prompts I have developed over the past twenty years as a way to pose questions from different perspectives.  Our IP Playbook has been used in the same way.

Provided that you act on it in a timely and appropriate manner, you can never have too much analysis.

This is one of the 100 IP Strategy Principles.

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Whoever has the best information is most likely to succeed and on their own terms.


It is difficult to overstate the importance of high quality information to the development and execution of world class IP Strategy.

The best IP Strategists are keen practitioners of competitive intelligence and analyse a wide variety of  information.

I use checklists of information sources tuned to different kinds of issues – some are free, some paid and some are highly specialised, bespoke services.

A key point in all if this to get as much first hand information as possible.  I was once in a natural disaster situation and we spent a lot of time trying to get accurate information.  We checked websites and called official departments.  The best information, of course was from the local officials manning road blocks.  Once we managed to speak to them, we knew exactly where we stood.

Do you remember the first time you played Chess against a much better player?  The insights the other person had, seemed like magic.  How did they know all of your possible moves and how were they prepared for all of them?  They just had more and better information than you – in this instance garnered from years of playing the game.

Information is magic – use it wisely and you will be even more successful.

This is one of the 100 IP Strategy Principles.

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Careful where you aim

There’s a lot of lip service given these days to ‘aligning IP with business goals’.  Most times there’s no indication at all about how to do that or any of the practicalities.

One practical matter that comes up time and again is around the goals themselves.  Specific goals allow more room  for compromise or pivots in the approach used to obtain what really matters.

 

Putting it another way, an indirect strategy is often the best – picture Alexander the Great at the siege of Tyre – he built a one km long causeway to turn a naval battle (which he would lose) into a land battle (which he won, emphatically).  The more specific  your goal the more room to use indirect means to achieve it.

Consider the following goal: to lead our market segment in sales of our latest innovation.

Compare this to the goal of maximizing business unit profit by the most effective means.

Say there’s a competitor who launches a product which infringes one of your patents in one of your key markets.

To maximise the number of units sold by you then you probably want an injunction stopping the competitor from selling.

However if it’s business unit profit that is the goal then a license may be much better.  You may in fact find that a cross license with access to another technology or market creates even more business unit profit.

Careful where you aim because you may not actually want to be there at all.

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100 IP Strategy Principles

I’m delighted to introduce a new blog post series – 100 IP Strategy Principles.

It’s partly inspired by the 10th century Chinese text ‘One Hundred Unorthodox Strategies’ (which in turn incorporates many principles from the Seven Military Classics including the well known Art of War by Sun Tzu).

As with the popular ‘5o IP Strategy Mistakes‘ series, I’m very keen for readers to see your feedback and comments and suggestions for further tips (whether inspired by these or otherwise).

Each time I publish another post in this series I will add it to this page, so that you have them all in one place.

Please do join the conversation – I look forward to your thoughts.

1 – Information is magic

2 – Analysis

 

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A number of you would have guessed by now that I decided a while ago that I should return to being a solo consultant.

As the firm got bigger, I found that looking after the team pulled me in a direction away from a place where clients are clearly first, and I also became so busy that I had less and less time for clients.   Over recent years we have been working back towards a solo consultancy in a carefully thought out process.

So the firm will soon be back where it should be – a solo consultancy.  I will miss the team of great people that previously made up Think IP Strategy (though I am delighted to be maintaining these friendships).  I will continue to collaborate on various levels with a number of them too.

Going forward, though I will be rebranding back to Duncan Bucknell Company and you’ll notice a few things in that vein as I work through the process of the rebrand.  (When I get time between looking after clients, of course.)

Like many maturing companies, Facebook has been unwinding complexity from its business(1).
What does this mean for the IP Strategy team?

If you’ve built intellectual property strategies around products or services that are going to be shelved what do you do?

Do you have a good understanding of the new strategy?

Is there a new strategy?  And if not, how can you optimize around a particular direction?

If you’ve spent the time to map all of your IP Rights to the products and services they support, you’ll have an easier time identifying which IP rights need to be reassessed in light if the change in focus.

If you haven’t done this exercise yet then do it now.

Here are some brief thoughts to get you thinking.

One method is to assign IP Rights into one or more of the four categories:
 A – supporting current products or services.
 B – supporting future planned products or services.
 C – strategic value (eg covers a current or likely future product or service of a competitor.)
 D – no strategic value but potentially salable or licensable to a non competitor.

When the business team starts to ‘reduce’ complexity’ – ie pull products or services, you can check whether the supporting IP Rights are in any classes aside from A and manage them appropriately.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg – what would you do first?

(1) – (See comments from Emily White, recently tasked with monetizing Instagram.)

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WSJUsing an old tactic, Procter & Gamble will reduce the number of products per package to increase profitability. (‘downsizing’)

According to the WSJ, this is in an attempt to recoup costs of innovation without increasing per package price for consumers in these difficult economic times.

Does this have anything to do with IP Strategy?

Should it?

Strategy is about achieving objectives, and whilst you need to adjust your strategy from time to time, it can be pretty hard to achieve what you set out to if the business alters key assumptions along the way.

Here we have a brand built on the message of quality and backed by a large IP Estate.

What message are you giving to consumers who now get less diapers in that brand they trust and always buy?

If you’re that in-house IP Strategist, you may not have any input on whether such tactics will be used, but you may be involved in optimising the strategy from the IP perspective.

Perhaps it would be good to ask why are we adding expensive technology in a price sensitive market?

Perhaps we should deploy the new technology with a different strategy?

For example, perhaps it would be better to give people a choice. Consumers can purchase the same product with the older technology and pay the current price, or, if they want the improved performance, they can pay more for it. Clearly there are some IP Strategy opportunities right there – the new sub-brand for the higher performance version, etc. (Perhaps even use a three tiered approach.)

Another approach would be to take another look at innovation designed to lower manufacturing and other costs that are built into the product.

What would you do?

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