Hidden Rembrandts and nascent da Vinci’s – building value by creating and capturing IP

The following four simple steps
can dramatically improve your ability to create and capture intellectual
property (whether it relates to inventions, brands, works of art, know-how or

  1. create an
    IP-Conscious Culture;
  2. set up an easy-to-use knowledge base system;
  3. have regular IP-generation & capture meetings; and
  4. put it all through a robust evaluation process.


Intellectual property strategy is
invaluable in leveraging business strategy.
A few simple steps can dramatically improve your ability to create and
capture intellectual property.

Just to be clear, this applies
to all forms of intellectual property, not just invention disclosure.

Here are just a few things to
think about to increase the IP value generated and captured by your

1 – An
IP-Conscious Culture

Creating a culture that
enshrines the value of IP and energizes people to create and capture it is
critical. To do this, the
organization needs to have at least a basic understanding of intellectual
property – for a simplified model, see my article Analysing IP Put Simply

However, the rationale for
creating and capturing IP must to be understood and continuously communicated
from the very top of the organization.

If you really want to make this
work, then reward people for creating and capturing intellectual
property. (I’m not saying that
this always has to be financial — people are motivated by many
different things.)

Ideally, a single person on the
senior executive team should have overall responsibility for intellectual
property management, including IP capture.

2 – An
easy-to-use knowledge database

A central knowledge database
can greatly enhance generation and capture of ideas and associated
intellectual property. Ideally the
system will be electronic, easy to use and accessible by all people in the
organization. It should be a
repository for all ideas for improvements, new brands, products, customers,

The system should track who
generates the ideas, further ideas or improvements to them, and if possible,
manage the process of evaluating ideas for follow up. This can all be done relatively easily on
the organization’s intranet.

To be clear, such a system
should cater for the traditional ‘invention disclosure process’,
but much more as well.

3 – Get
together regularly

Ideas are best generated in
groups of people (see for example Edward de Bono’s work). So, holding regular meetings to discuss
ideas is very useful. Meetings should be attended by people from a variety of
backgrounds within the organization (eg. Marketing, Sales, Business
Development, Finance, Legal, Product Development, Manufacturing, etc.).

An IP specialist should attend
these meetings and contribute to the discussion. This person could equally be an employee or
external counsel.

4 – A
transparent evaluation process

Captured ideas must be
evaluated for usefulness. To minimize
wasted time, use a staged evaluation process to screen for success factors
such as (a) feasibility, (b) alignment with business strategy, (c) technical
merit, (d) potential commercial value to other entities.

The process should be clearly
understood and visible to everyone in the organization (and so should the
reward system described above).

The evaluation process will
help you decide whether to pursue the idea, and if so how. For example:

  • is it worthy of formal IP protection? (patent, trade mark, design registration, etc)
  • should it be utilized internally?
  • should it be captured and then out-licensed?
  • which aspect of our business strategy does this align with?
  • which of our current customers would benefit from this?
  • which markets would this be particularly beneficial in?
  • etc
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