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.
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.
2 – Analysis
“…fools are able to ruin a friendship but wise people know how to profit even from enmities.”
You can do business so as to avoid bumping into other companies, or you can focus on your goals (and your strategy) and realise that inevitably, you are going to annoy others.
You can believe the mantra that patents are evil, or you can invest in protecting your inventions so that you can extract maximum value from your hard work.
You can stand on your soapbox and yell about trolls or you can spend time analyzing the vulnerability they expose in your business.
If you receive a threatening letter from a competitor is it better to let emotions rule or stop and consider the weakness in your position that they are aiming at and how you might remedy it?
You see, where an enemy attacks is a weakness that you can now fix. There are many shortcomings that an enemy is quick to perceive. This is one reason why I run war games for clients.
A world with strong competitors is good – with no enemy to fear or compare to you have to be even more careful.
[Photo Credit: kaibara87]
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.)
Photo Credit: Miradortigre via Compfight cc
Using 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?
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?
A quick personal note to apologise to our faithful readers for the lack of posts from me on this blog recently.
I am currently travelling for a year with my family. While I’m keeping up with clients and their needs, as always, I don’t have as much time for other activities, like getting out to conferences or this blog.
I have some ideas for thought-provoking posts and will get them up here as soon as I can.
The team at Think IP Strategy created their list of top IP mistakes. We’ve listed them here for you and we’ll give you a more detailed post on each and everyone.
What would you add? We’ll happily do an extra post on any new ones you suggest.
(They are in no particular order, because as you know, that depends on context.)
6. Infringe IP
10. File Too Late
34. Fail to Monitor IP (suggested by ‘mc’ – see below and thanks again)
35. Fail to Abandon IP (suggested by ‘Chuit’ – see below and thanks again)
36. Fail to Value IP Literacy in Staff at all levels (suggested by ‘Ruth Soetendorp’ – see below and thanks again)
37. Fail to include IP Awareness on staff training agenda (suggested by ‘Ruth Soetendorp’ – see below and thanks again)
38. Fail to communicate IP Strategy as part of your marketing plan (suggested by ‘Dids MacDonald’ – see below and thanks again)
39. Claim too much (in patent claims) [And I would add, 'or too little', and broaden this to Trade Marks and Designs as well.] (suggested by ‘Naim Kuhn’ – see below and thanks again)
40. Fail to clearly assign IP responsibility within the organisation (suggested by AJ with slight modification – see below and thanks again)
46. Think that there are only 50 IP mistakes that you can make (suggested by Philip Argy – see below and thanks again)
50. Fail to lead