The long tail and IP Strategy

Given the choice and enough people then just about everything will be chosen at least once.  Unparalled choice has created an almost unlimited number of niches of varying sizes – not just blockbuster products. 

Figure out ways to aggregate these niches (along with the blockbusters if you can) and you’ve got part of the magic of google, amazon, netflix, itunes and so on.

Well, maybe not, actually…  (The long tail theory is a little more controversial these days for reasons you can read about elsewhere.)

Great – given that there’s at least some value in being an aggregator of products or services, what does this have to do with intellectual property?  Here’s some brief thoughts, what would you add?

Aggregators need to make it easy for niche product suppliers to plug in to their platform.  Be very wary about the hurdles you put in the way.  An IP licence agreement may be all that’s stopping you from succeeding – is it always necessary?

Aggregators need to be flexible – protect the core of their platform and the brand, but give away access to those wanting to supply products or purchase using it.  Give away access to those who want to integrate with your platform to develop new products and new stuff to aggregate.

Intellectual property strategy isn’t just about protect and enforce.  It’s about tailoring to your situation. 

That takes brains, hard work, and guts.  It’s not for everyone.

Click these links to read all about the Long Tail, Chris Anderson and Pareto distributions and rethinking the long tail by the Wharton School and criticisms of the theory by Times Online and the The Register.


3 Comments on “The long tail and IP Strategy

  1. Interesting. Many IP departments are struggling to find better ways to monetize their intellectual property assets. As you pointed out, a better application of Pareto principle and Long tail theory across their portfolio can help them identify "core" assets versus "long tail" assets.  These ‘long tail’ assets can then be pooled together in ‘lots’ or ‘give-away’.
    A better management of these assets is the starting point for any such initiatives.
    Jerry L., Lecorpio

  2. There’s little point in having a patent strategy when the likes of Microsoft will trample on your IPR and refuse to settle this side of an expensive court case. In our own case, despite the best efforts of a number of concerned Microsoft employees, Microsoft NDAs have been proven to be utterly worthless.
    The DoJ has a track record of failing to reign-in the excesses of US corporations, seeing illegal acquisition of IP as an intrinsic part of US Foreign Policy.
    On the back of the experience, has had to advise all of its customers not to engage with US corporations on matters relating to IPR.

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