Fail to Optimize the IP Portfolio (no. 22 in our list of IP mistakes)

One of the ways any professional can sabotage his ability to think and act strategically is to allow unnecessary clutter to impede his planning.  It’s a universal problem that can affect all professions, including those in IP.  The same principles that can make it difficult to work from a cluttered desk can make it difficult to work with an entire IP portfolio.  Unless you know where something is, it’s hard to find it, and you may have something important hidden within the clutter that never sees the light of day until much too late.

Optimizing an IP portfolio involves building an uncluttered IP portfolio where its size and organization do not inhibit its use.  You have the IP you need organized in a way that you can find, review, and exploit it.  You remove IP you do not need so that it does not become a financial burden or a distraction.

When you do not optimize an IP portfolio, the following can happen:

  1.  You pay to maintain IP you do not need with money that the business could use elsewhere
  2. You make it harder to find and use the IP that is valuable because people will need to pick through IP that is not valuable to find it – or may consider the IP portfolio too cluttered or disorganized to merit looking at all
  3. You make it harder to identify gaps that you have in IP coverage, at least until competitors point out those gaps for you
  4. You fail to monetize IP you will not use that another organization might have used

A lot of patent optimization folks I have worked with have led their discussions on patent optimization with seeking to remedy points 1 and 4 above.  Successful optimization on points 1 and 4 result in reduced maintenance fees or monetized IP.  Both of these are easy to quantify and immediate…money saved and money earned.  Points 2 and 3, however, tend to offer even bigger opportunities for strategic gain or the prevention of loss.  The clarity offered by a right-sized and well-organize IP portfolio improves decision-making and can lead to better exploitation of opportunities or the avoidance of expensive mistakes.  Such positive results are harder to quantify immediately given the possibility that good and bad decisions can be made regardless of whether an IP portfolio has been optimized.  Still, given time enough to develop a performance track record to compare against pre-optimization decision-making performance, the improvement in decision-making pace and quality is likely to be striking.

(This is number 22 in our list of IP mistakes and how to avoid them.)

(Image credit: Hemera)

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