In many companies IP tends to be the responsibility of the legal department.
Is that always a good idea?
This is despite the high amount of chatter around the need to introduce IP discussions in product strategies and interdepartmental team meetings.
The change in the global competition game makes however the protection of intangibles no longer the concern of the legal department solely but a strategic matter which regards the company in all its activities. How can you use this to your advantage to support product and company development?
Think about it. Your employees have a high capacity to learn and, when working together, they are an incredible source of creativity. Setting in place processes and structures that will support and encourage interdepartmental collaboration can capture this knowledge and creativity and translate it in practical way to the benefit of your business. How to get started? Start with yourself.. by encouraging, communicating, informing, empowering and rewarding personal and group development.
Work with your R&D departments on the importance of keeping laboratory books, secrecy agreements, the legal requirements for patenting, etc. Work with your legal team on technical language of your R&D department and make your business unit understand what the other two are talking about and communicate back in an efficient way. How? Encourage different unites to communicate.
Figure 1. Interdepartmental collaboration and communication
The most effective way to do this I think is making everyone work together. Organizing regular interdepartmental meetings in your company (either for reviewing activities or managing a task) with participants from key units: R&D, business, management, marketing, finance, other can be a great way to start. Encourage everyone to have a solution driven approach to the issue at hand and make sure that every unit has the chance to voice its opinions.