Why I still help small companies

Almost all of my work time is spent working for multi-billion dollar clients around the world.  So why do I still bother helping small companies and startups?

Because I believe that collectively they make the greatest contribution to innovation and because every time I have a conversation with them, I get a variation on the same story. They have tried working with [name brand] firm and they feel like they have spent a great deal of money and got very little or nothing in return.

I can usually only offer a half hour call, and we usually manage to define a new world view together which sets them on a better path – one which is business focused, and strategic.

So what do we chat about in that half hour? Here is a small glimpse of some of the precepts that come up time and again:

  • Yes in an ideal world, you should get a top patent attorney firm to work with you from day one to draft and file a near-perfect patent / trademark / design specification.  Unfortunately, the world is not perfect, and try as they might, an external advisor is never going to understand your business as well as you do.  Business strategy first, IP strategy second.  If you have no budget for IP protection – and you truly understand what this means, then that’s fine. If you have only a small budget for IP protection, then be clever in doing the best you can with that – that is also fine. If you have to self file a patent / trademark / design, or instruct an attorney to spend a set amount of time to review it – that’s totally fine. It’s your responsibility, your business, your strategy, your future – do the best you can with the resources you have.  *This approach transfers to any business decision, and there’s no reason why IP should be different – whether it is protecting IP, to surveillance or enforcement, it has to fit the business.
  • IP Strategy is entirely based on your particular context. The fact that a competitor or another company did a particular thing is irrelevant to whether you should do it. (Though a competitor’s actions are always important to understand, it doesn’t mean you should copy them.)  Once you deeply understand your business strategy, your IP Strategy will follow.
  • Find an advisor who will work with you and educate you along the way. One that is confident enough to let you do as much of the work (and learning) as possible and to shape your intellectual property and your strategy to fit your business.  It turns out that this approach allows small companies to spend a lot less, learn a lot more, become a lot more independent and sophisticated as they work with the advisor into the future.

This is the only way that I have found that I can work with small companies.

Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I can only assist a few small companies at a time in this way, but it has been incredibly rewarding in every single instance.

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