50 intellectual property mistakes and how to avoid them

The team at Think IP Strategy created their list of top IP mistakes.   We’ve listed them here for you and we’ll give you a more detailed post on each and everyone.

What would you add?  We’ll happily do an extra post on any new ones you suggest.

(They are in no particular order, because as you know, that depends on context.)

1.      Fail to Protect IP

2.      Fail to Exploit IP

3.      Fail to Maintain IP

4.      Fail to Recognize IP

5.      Fail to Protect Associated IC

6.      Infringe IP

7.      Lose Freedom of Operation

8.     Have No Publication Strategy

9.     File Too Early

10.  File Too Late

11.  Treat IP as purely a Legal Issue

12.  Fail to Think Globally

13.  Fail to Think Locally

14.  Spend Too Much to Protect Too Little

15.  Spend Too Little to Protect Too Much

16.  Misunderstand the Strength of IP

17.  Build Static Instead of Dynamic Defenses

18.  Underestimate Competitors

19.  Overestimate Competitors

20.  Fail to Leverage Outside Innovation

21.  Become Mired in the Day-to-Day

22.  Fail to Optimize the Portfolio

23.  Fail to align IP strategy with Business Strategy

24.  Treat IP as a Cost Center

25.  Accept the Tyranny of the Toos: Too hard, expensive, difficult, confusing, etc.

26.  Take the Advice of Counsel on Faith

27.  Mismanage Outsourcing

28.  Be Satisfied with the Status Quo

29.  Create Your Competition

30.  Fight in the Wrong Places

31.  Fight in the Wrong Way

32.  Choose the Wrong Fights

33. Develop IP that no one wants

34. Fail to Monitor IP (suggested by ‘mc’ – see below and thanks again)

35. Fail to Abandon IP (suggested by ‘Chuit’ – see below and thanks again)

36. Fail to Value IP Literacy in Staff at all levels (suggested by ‘Ruth Soetendorp’ – see below and thanks again)

37. Fail to include IP Awareness on staff training agenda (suggested by ‘Ruth Soetendorp’ – see below and thanks again)

38. Fail to communicate IP Strategy as part of your marketing plan (suggested by ‘Dids MacDonald’ – see below and thanks again)

39. Claim too much (in patent claims) [And I would add, ‘or too little’, and broaden this to Trade Marks and Designs as well.] (suggested by ‘Naim Kuhn’ – see below and thanks again)

40. Fail to clearly assign IP responsibility within the organisation (suggested by AJ with slight modification – see below and thanks again)

41. Seeing things as we wish them to be

42. Planning without the ideal strategy in mind

43. Do it yourself IP Strategy

44. Withholding important information from legal advisers

45. Miss the point on benchmarking

46. Think that there are only 50 IP mistakes that you can make (suggested by Philip Argy – see below and thanks again)

47. Make dangerous interpretations

48. Focus on the lesser value in licensing

49. Use questionable ethics

50. Fail to lead

49 Comments on “50 intellectual property mistakes and how to avoid them

  1. What about “Fail to Monitor IP”? – I work at a big company in the IP department, and sometimes local affiliates change the way they use the trademarks, without notifying, which can have negative consequences to the IP. Trademark protection not only not only comprises search and filling , but also constant monitoring of our own used trademarks.

  2. 35. Fail to value IP literacy in staff at all levels

    36. Fail to include IP awareness on staff training agenda

  3. How about “Fail to abandon IP” ? : people should also learn to get rid of unnecessary rights… 😉

  4. Excellent IP Think Tank!

    Fail to communicate your IP strategy as part of your marketing plan

    (suggested by Dids Macdonald, CEO of Anti Copying in Design)

    • Dids, this is a great one, my MBA students would laugh that it wasn’t on our first list

      • Duncan youwould be surprised at how many fail to do include communication of an Ip strategy in their marketing plans. I would say that in at least 70% of the IP strategy reviews we undertake this is the case.

  5. Pingback: Don’t lose freedom of operation

  6. Always attempt to claim the broadest claims in patents… I always advise a reasonable broad claim to encapsulate an idea and not get greedy to claim all when the “all” is unknown.

    • Overbroad claiming – can you elaborate, Naim? Where do you suggest readers draw the line when deciding how much is enough to ‘know’ before claiming?

      • No easy answers but here is my logic.

        In 1975, Feigenbaum solved an important piece of chaos theory and discovered what we now know as Fieganbaum number. He related this number to the period-doubling bifurcations in the logistic map, but also showed it to hold for all one-dimensional maps with a single quadratic maximum. As a consequence of this generality, every chaotic system that corresponds to this description will bifurcate at the same rate. Feigenbaum’s constant can be used to predict when chaos will arise in such systems before it ever occurs.

        This is difficult to digest but nevertheless with this in mind I can safely say that inventions as claimed in the patents should cover at most the most obvious explainable ways of achieving the output of the claims. This said, dependent claims should be used to distribute obvious variants.

        Many, wrongly try to envision the entire future from overly broad claims and loose focus of the inventions at present and their possible shelf life. When you try to step into the future through overly broad claims, an event similar to bifurcations in chaos theory occurs where unforeseen advances of science and technology can create havoc with your presumed calculated claims.

        Try to cover 3-4 variants of your technology or at least the most obvious ones after a little brainstorming. Time is on your side generally
        if you act swiftly on ideas just slightly ahead of market/competition.

        Overly broad claims generally are pointing towards future technology. The correct way to be ahead is to monitor your field and file CIP’s or new patent applications with regular intervals before your previous application is issued. This will help you better differentiate and understand the sequence of logical and factual developments and write good claims to stay ahead.

      • Thanks Duncan. To make my self a bit more clear to readers who may have lost me in the chaos theory I give this as well.

        If you are walking by a group of people talking, you hear voices. At a certain distance from the the group you will be able to separate the voices and understand what each person is saying. When your distance
        from the group increases and reaches a point that you are unable distinguish one voice from the other, chaos bifurcations have set in.
        Patent claims are like that. If you stretch out too much and have a feeling that some other unknown logic other than your own can also deliver the same then it is time to stop and scale the claim back.

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    • Thanks gena777 – enforcement is a small part of the overall picture but definitely important, as you say.

  8. 40. Think that there are less than 40 IP mistakes you can make!

      • Fail to appreciate that Work for Hire doctrine doesn’t apply outside of USA

      • Thanks Philip – Work for Hire outside the US – this is great – is it covered by 12 – fail to think globally?

      • Possibly, but I’d like to think the articulation of each ‘mistake’ is sufficiently precise to convey the mistake that should be avoided, so I interpret failure to think globally as referring to a strategic failure to protect your brand or other IP offshore rather than something as specific as jurisdictional idiosyncrasies.

      • Thanks Philip – Your first reaction is great – ‘Think that there are less than 40 IP mistakes you can make’ – and will add this one to the list… I get what you mean about jurisdictional idiosyncracies, thank you.

  9. I would say that the second point “Fail to Exploit IP”, could either be not exploit at all or not exploit in time. The time factor is important. As a patentee, one should worry about the obvious invent around a claim or invention as well not so obvious invent around. The not so obvious will create a hurdle if IP is not exploited in time.

    • Naim -is that more a question of continuing to develop your IP base rather than exploiting your IP (say for remuneration)?

      • Duncan – it is exploiting for renumeration. If one has not launched a product on a patented idea, there are smart people who will invent ways to deliver the same utility by an outer invent around rather than an obvious invent around. My take is, if one has a patent at least try to exploit it. Otherwise, someone else will capture the market without infringing. This is most damaging as a lost market is harder to regain
        than even winning a patent litigation.

  10. an English language pedant says : “Think that there are fewer than 4o IP mistakes you can make”

    a nice way to round of this section of the list. Will it make it 100??

  11. Fail to make it clear WHO is responsible for managing IP within your organisation.

  12. 42. Failing to file improvements on the competition’s products

    • Thanks Greg – do you advocate momitoring competitor’s products and filing patents ahead of their technology?

      • Yes, you acquire their products, itemize a listing of defects in the product, and then have a development team devise solutions to those defects. This provides patent protection for where competition is likely to go.

      • Thanks Greg for your comments – a couple of thoughts – (a) this is assuming they did file their own patents on the same things withint he last 18 mths (at which point much of your effort is wasted), (b) this is quite resource intensive – isn’t it better to focus on what the market needs, rather than what you are trying to discern from the gaps in your competitors current product?

      • Most of our competitors in our industry start shipping products early and contain their latest technology. So the patents on this latest technology will publish in 18 months from product launch. If you can acquire the product shortly after launch and develop improvements quickly, then there is a window of opportunity. Also, our developers may perceive problems that the competitor is not aware of yet or had insufficient resources to address.

        My experience with focusing on market needs is the IP that comes from those developments don’t necessarily cover the competitions’ products. The result is during litigation there is little ammo to fire back at the competition (but there may be something to cross license).

      • Great, thanks Greg. If you focus on the market and it’s not covering your competitor’s products, then it suggests they aren’t selling anything? So are they really a threat? (Thanks for your comments on this, by the way.)

      • Happy New Year to you and everyone who reads your blog.

        The competitors are a threat because they use a different hardware technology to accomplish the same type of products. Patents on the overall product (or market need) are difficult to obtain so the patents the company I work for tended to focus only on the technology satisfying the market. This neglected filing patents on the alternative technology.

      • Greg thanks so much for yoru well wishes and your explanation. All the best for 2011.

  13. Today’s news and news during March focuses on lawsuits against Google for infringement on IP rights. This is defensive strategy and, in my opinion, is unnecessary for true invention and competitiveness. True invention is by nature new and markets will judge whether it’s too derivative, not lawyers.

    • Thanks – been tracking Google especially on the smartphone side because they enter a litigation intensive market with great solutions while owning a comparitively tiny patent portfolio. We be interested to see how this turns out.

  14. Another one would be to fail in estimating and allocating financial and human resources due to an ever growing IP portfolio. One crisis point is reached if there is no significant revenue growth. Another crisis point is when companies do not want to add employees for IP and then expect quality to be maintained.
    As IP awareness is comparatively lower than other functions of the business,
    this feeds into questionable resource allocation.

    • Hi Naim Khan – Thanks, will add one more point to your line of thought. Speed of proficient operation is extremely important to be competitive, and if the work and management load increases with a corresponding HR match to handle the workload, it can’t help but to slow things down, reducing competitiveness on pace, and negating some of the value of IP growth track.

  15. Lose perspective about IP’s overall  importance in the scheme of things 

    • Thanks – can you explain your view on IP’s overall importance and how people get it wrong?

  16. 51. Fail to judge appropriate value of an IP;
    52. Demanding very very high price in Licensing;
    53. Fail to watch IP of Competitors

  17. Pingback: 100 IP Strategy Principles | Duncan Bucknell

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