IP can be used within product solutions, it can be licensed, or it can otherwise be used to shape relationships with customers, partners, and competitors. It will foster useful interactions or keep others from competing where you do not want them. Creating or acquiring that IP takes resources that could have been used elsewhere. The opportunity cost of where it could be used is the crux of the mistake.
Many potential causes lie at the heart of failing to exploit IP. These include, but are not limited to:
- Ignorance about the possibilities
- Competing priorities
- Apathy or disinterest
- Poor business development approaches
- Present resource limitations
- Freedom to operate
While ideally any issues that make exploiting IP unlikely will be taken into consideration before investing in its creation or acquisition, it is important to periodically review what you are doing with the IP at hand. If possible, you want to find a way to derive some value worth more than the effort to gain it. That last is a key point to understand. Not exploiting IP is not necessarily the mistake. IP creation or acquisition is a sunk cost. The mistake is in not exploiting IP for which you could gain an adequate return on investment going forward…and then worse than that, keeping it anyway, a mistake we will cover in a later post. If IP is worth keeping, then it should be worth using.
(This is number 2 in our list of IP mistakes and how to avoid them.)
(Image credit: familymwr)