What exactly is IP Strategy, anyway?

My working definition of ‘IP Strategy’ is ‘using intellectual property to inform and leverage business strategy’.

I think it covers the full range of activity that is IP Strategy – what do you think?

Here are some definitions previously suggested by others.

Do you have any others we should add?

What are your thoughts?

"A plan or method to use IP to achieve business objectives." (ipCapital Group article at IPFrontline)

"The central playbook around intellectual property and how it supports the business." (ipVA)

 

(Photo credit: FJTU)

 

30 Comments on “What exactly is IP Strategy, anyway?

  1. I would frame IP Strategy as:
    Identifying, capturing, protecting and exploiting those aspects of a business that relate to differentiation or proprietary components so as to allow maximization of firm profits in comparison to those obtainable from bare commodity pricing.
    A bit wordier than the others, admittedly.

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  2. I would frame IP Strategy as:
    Identifying, capturing, protecting and exploiting those aspects of a business that relate to differentiation or proprietary components so as to allow maximization of firm profits in comparison to those obtainable from bare commodity pricing.
    A bit wordier than the others, admittedly.

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  3. Great, Jackie – do you know of any others that people of proposed?

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  4. Great, Jackie – do you know of any others that people of proposed?

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  5. One other definition of IP Strategy (actually IP Strategist) that I have used effectively is:  “I don’t get IP for you; rather, I make sure any IP that you do get makes you money.”
    No one that I am aware of (other than we “usual suspects”) really attempts to frame IP Strategy as a discipline or a process.  Rather, IP Strategy is something that is expected to be done successfully without the associated application of standard rules or frameworks.  Imagine a business strategy that was conducted in the same way, where the parallel to the ad hoc nature of IP Strategy would be “let’s start a business that makes money.”  The proponents of such a “strategy” would be laughed out of the room.  Yet, at most organizations, IP Strategy is left in the hands of lawyers who are not trained in strategic business processes and, as such, treat IP as a legal issue. 
    I thus find it interesting we are having this conversation (along with Jordan Hatcher et al).  As the most well-known IP Strategists, I think it is we who can decide and promote a definition of “IP Strategy” (for better or worse).  To this end, I conversed with Jordan a while back and queried whether we should think about adding a Wikipedia page about IP Strategy.  He suggested to wait a bit, but I pose the question to you as well as your readers whether this is something we should think about for the future, especially now that we have seen 2 business books on centered on IP Strategy in the last few months.

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  6. One other definition of IP Strategy (actually IP Strategist) that I have used effectively is:  “I don’t get IP for you; rather, I make sure any IP that you do get makes you money.”
    No one that I am aware of (other than we “usual suspects”) really attempts to frame IP Strategy as a discipline or a process.  Rather, IP Strategy is something that is expected to be done successfully without the associated application of standard rules or frameworks.  Imagine a business strategy that was conducted in the same way, where the parallel to the ad hoc nature of IP Strategy would be “let’s start a business that makes money.”  The proponents of such a “strategy” would be laughed out of the room.  Yet, at most organizations, IP Strategy is left in the hands of lawyers who are not trained in strategic business processes and, as such, treat IP as a legal issue. 
    I thus find it interesting we are having this conversation (along with Jordan Hatcher et al).  As the most well-known IP Strategists, I think it is we who can decide and promote a definition of “IP Strategy” (for better or worse).  To this end, I conversed with Jordan a while back and queried whether we should think about adding a Wikipedia page about IP Strategy.  He suggested to wait a bit, but I pose the question to you as well as your readers whether this is something we should think about for the future, especially now that we have seen 2 business books on centered on IP Strategy in the last few months.

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  7. Duncan-  I agree with Jackie but I think that it it’s important to point out that her definition implies a huge shift in perspective for most companies–from looking at just IP to understanding the full intellectual capital (IC) profile and value creation process. Two related discussions you might enjoy are IP and IC: A Strategy or The Strategy? http://www.i-capitaladvisors.com/2009/03/10/ip-and-ic-a-strategy-or-the-strategy/ and Who’s in Charge of IP and IC? http://www.i-capitaladvisors.com/2009/05/07/who-is-in-charge-of-ip-and-ic/

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  8. Duncan-  I agree with Jackie but I think that it it’s important to point out that her definition implies a huge shift in perspective for most companies–from looking at just IP to understanding the full intellectual capital (IC) profile and value creation process. Two related discussions you might enjoy are IP and IC: A Strategy or The Strategy? http://www.i-capitaladvisors.com/2009/03/10/ip-and-ic-a-strategy-or-the-strategy/ and Who’s in Charge of IP and IC? http://www.i-capitaladvisors.com/2009/05/07/who-is-in-charge-of-ip-and-ic/

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  9. Thanks JackieThe definition of ‘IP Strategy’ and therefore ‘IP Strategist’ is a particularly difficult question, because some would include anyone who advises clients on how to use the various tools of IP – so this would include people across fields as varied as traditional legal advice, management consulting, IP ratings, IP Valuation, Securitisation, Banking, Auctions, Licensing and so on.  Others would take a narrower view.  You second definition seems to be the wider one – do you agree?

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  10. Thanks JackieThe definition of ‘IP Strategy’ and therefore ‘IP Strategist’ is a particularly difficult question, because some would include anyone who advises clients on how to use the various tools of IP – so this would include people across fields as varied as traditional legal advice, management consulting, IP ratings, IP Valuation, Securitisation, Banking, Auctions, Licensing and so on.  Others would take a narrower view.  You second definition seems to be the wider one – do you agree?

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  11. Thanks Mary – Intellectual Capital Management is clearly incredibly important and IP Strategy is really a subset of this.    I don’t think that people with a traditional IP background can credibly claim much IC insight without a substantial work history demonstrating their successes in this broader context.  Do you agree?There are many situations where ICM is too broad and IP Strategy should be the focus – this may be for short periods, or it may be for quite a long time.  I’m not saying that ICM should be ignored, but that it often makes sense to focus within that around IP, and even within IP to well defined areas where maximum effect will be had from resources available.

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  12. Thanks Mary – Intellectual Capital Management is clearly incredibly important and IP Strategy is really a subset of this.    I don’t think that people with a traditional IP background can credibly claim much IC insight without a substantial work history demonstrating their successes in this broader context.  Do you agree?There are many situations where ICM is too broad and IP Strategy should be the focus – this may be for short periods, or it may be for quite a long time.  I’m not saying that ICM should be ignored, but that it often makes sense to focus within that around IP, and even within IP to well defined areas where maximum effect will be had from resources available.

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  13. My definition is – IP strategy is a generator for the implementation of
    good business opportunities for and barriers against the occurrence of
    such negative

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  14. My definition is – IP strategy is a generator for the implementation of
    good business opportunities for and barriers against the occurrence of
    such negative

    Like

  15. Thanks Duncan- I understand and agree with your perspective on the specialized nature of much of IP strategy. That means that the definitions in your initial post work. But it seems to me that broader statements about differentiation don’t work if you are not going to look at the broader context. I look forward to hearing what Jackie has to say.

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  16. Thanks Duncan- I understand and agree with your perspective on the specialized nature of much of IP strategy. That means that the definitions in your initial post work. But it seems to me that broader statements about differentiation don’t work if you are not going to look at the broader context. I look forward to hearing what Jackie has to say.

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  17. Hello,
    I have read various definitions of IP strategy.My definition is – IP strategy is a integral generator for the implementation of
    good business opportunities and barriers against the occurrence of
    such negative.

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  18. Hello,
    I have read various definitions of IP strategy.My definition is – IP strategy is a integral generator for the implementation of
    good business opportunities and barriers against the occurrence of
    such negative.

    Like

  19. A mention about Business Strategy inevitably creeps in when we talk about IP Strategy. Before commenting about how IP is subservient to Business, one ought to examine some aspects of Business Phases and then try to relate IP to it. Here is a very loose fitting scheme.

    Phases of Business

    1. Start a Business (IP scan for FTO) (File for or license IP assets based on FTO scan results)

    2. Make a foothold into the market (acquire customers) (file or acquire/license more IP sensing market/investment needs)

    3. Growth by revenue (file or acquire/license more IP sensing market needs)

    4. Growth by profits (file or acquire/license more IP sensing market needs)

    5. Sustain revenue/profit growth (add or create more customers) (file or acquire more forward looking IP to secure your business)

    6. Sustain long term revenue/profitability growth (necessarily file more forward looking IP to project secureness of your business)

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      • So far as I can determine, IP is now underpinning a Business Strategy, at least in sectors where IP is sought after. On one part IP protection is needed for FTO or Freedom of Action to run existing products/services. On the other hand, future execution of products/services is being intersected by hypothetical competitor filing IP in your way. So in order to secure future FTO you need to worry about IP protected products/service. So while IP Strategy is leveraged for better running of businesses in general, the heart of IP generation (not strategy) lies at the intersection of the kind of FTO you want and how inventive ideas are managed in your company. Broadly speaking, IP strategy kicks in initially how you want to practice your FTO. It kicks in again when you start to grow (you determine is the IP protection at hand is enough) and yet again when you try to envision the long term sustainability of your
        business (how much would be enough and what would it actually be). At each stage IP considerations may vary as will the strategy. The kicker is when you stretch your imagination for the long haul. Short term fixes and general due diligence are IP tactics and best practices not strategy. Long term is the real deal. IP strategy is about IP protection generating your FTO for the long haul.

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  20. OK Duncan, you lit my fuse again by listing this in the “recent and popular” link list, so I’m back on this topic that we vigorously feuded over previously (with Jackie too).

    You may recall that I rigorously avoid the term “IP Strategy” because it has been my experience in corporate circles that it over-elevates this aspect of business strategy to a goal and not a means to achieve imporatnt goals. HOWEVER I think I may have found a midpoint where we can both happily reside:

    “IP Strategy is that SUBSET of business strategies that exercise tools, both legal and non-statutory, that enable the corporation to keep exclusive a distinctive competitive position in their chosen field(s) of business.”

    I toy with replacing “non-statutory” with “self-managed” but I got bored before reaching a decision on that!

    Wishing you and your readers a satisfying holiday season.

    Allan Main, MAINly Consulting

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    • Allan, I can’t remember a feud, but only a decent exchange of ideas. Thanks for these further thoughts. Your input is always welcome. Have a great holiday season.

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  21. Late to this conversation – been using IP strategy aligns the power of IP to the objectives of your business. It is crafted from your ability and willingness to gain, expoit, and defend important creations under the system of patent laws…also, IP strategy is a compoment of business strategy that deals with the options, uncertainty, and obstacles involved in the creation, use, and defense of ideas.

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  22. How about:

    A description of how intellectual property is required to support the cost efficient delivery of business objectives and management of business risk.

    I have tried to make this as succinct as possible; but include what i think are the 4 key elements of: i) Delivering business plan ii) Managing risk iii)
    Do not have access to unlimited funds iv) Non-optional. The only option is whether it’s explicitly defined, agreed by the board and commonly understood or otherwise.

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    • Thanks Tony – do you think your definite adequately takes in the use of IP to scan for and make the most of opportunities?

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      • Hi D

        I do indeed, if the “scanning for” and “making most” of such opportunities is defined in the Business Plan. If it’s not in the BP & there is real potential to use IP to exploit these opportunities, then the BP is overdue a refresh.

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