Fail to Align IP Strategy With Business Strategy (No.23 in our list of IP mistakes)
A common cause of friction in any operation is to have individuals or teams designated to support a business strategy run separate strategies for their own self-interest that do not align. For example, a licensing department may wish to license IP to reach its financial targets in a technical area where the organization has decided exclusivity better supports the business overall. Given the nature of IP to be treated as distinct from the rest of the business, and even from the rest of business law, misalignment of IP strategy with business strategy is common.
IP strategy and business strategy need to align, and both need to give a little to support each other. R&D is an inherently sloppy process, and so while we want to innovate and create IP that supports the intended direction of the business, the business also needs to consider its strategy and how that strategy can revolve around the IP that it can actually claim. The two elements of strategy are in a dance where nominally the logic of business is supposed to lead, and yet its more fickle and creative IP partner may really decide how the dance can progress.
If either element runs its own course without due consideration of the other, it will be ugly on the dance floor. Business will not get the best IP it needs to move in the direction it wants, and IP will not get the best business models that allows the IP it creates to realize its potential. On paper, both business and IP may appear to have sound strategies, and yet the strategies do not work together if they do not align.
The tricky part for the IP professional, of course, is that the business strategy leaders may not always know they are even dancing with their IP strategy partner and press on with business plans, IP be damned. We see this a lot in the number of business plans we have helped assess for our clients where IP appears an afterthought and not an equal among other professional disciplines. This necessarily puts the burden on the IP strategist to earn the influence it deserves, and a lot of well meaning IP champions have impaled themselves in the effort.
(This is number 23 in our list of IP mistakes and how to avoid them.)
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