Top 3 things leaders need to know about IP

What do leaders need to know about intellectual property strategy? 
1 – intellectual property can be used as a strategic asset – hopefully this is now pretty universally understood;
2 – if you’re not thinking about IP strategically, you will at the very least pay a large opportunity cost, and at worst, sink the company;
3 – using IP strategically is so much more than managing the organisation’s own IP ‘strategically’ (whatever that means).

What would you add?

10 Comments on “Top 3 things leaders need to know about IP

  1. Duncan, great post.  I would add that no matter how good a leader’s IP strategic plans (whether internal or external directed), if he doesn’t make sure his people are educated on how to implement these plans, success will be elusive.  That is, because true strategic IP management transcends the traditional IP silo of R&D and Legal, management needs to be prepared to invest considerable resources in developing a deep IP culture within the entire organization.  This requires the lawyers and other organization IP champions to leave the comfort of their offices and go out into the far reaches of the company to educate and motivate those who would not normally be part of the IP process in the organization.

  2. IP turns a little guy’s great idea into something in which third parties with money can and will invest .  It is not just for the big end of town.  It needs to be seen as a normal cost of business for all businesses.The comment on “IP culture” is spot on.  That is pretty rare.As for getting out of plush offices, an observation from many years on both sides of the fence is that a role of the IP expert includes helping people who are good at inventing and making things turn those things into “enabled” inventions on paper.  Not many people in the trenches are particularly good at expressing themselves in written words.  That is why they are in the trenches inventing.

  3. Registering trade marks is a clever move for a little guy as well.  As long as you “use” it, it can be a great way to keep big guys as well as little ones from squatting (or trying to) on your turf in your markets i.e. that great name you spent a lot of time creating and printing brochures etc., which they will do.  Similarly, little guys with not so much cash who spend much of it on marketing and coming up with great names for products should also spend a bit of that cash on investigating whether they can actually use the name for the new product without having someone slap an infringement notice on them (been there).As for design, a certain Australian state is spending much money on “excellence” in design, but the leadership has little understanding or interest in promoting IP rights to prevent those mean people in other countries from ripping off their designs with cheap imports.  An IP culture should start at the very top.  There is a long way to go.

  4. Using IP strategically also means:
    1. Understanding what is and isn’t protectable.
    2. Focusing R&D on IP that provides a reasonable ROI.

  5. Apologies for arriving late at this posting, but Jackie’s comments on IP Culture are so timeless, that my delay is immaterial, and are so “on point” that I can’t allow the passage of time to excuse myself from speaking out in endorsement.
    Jackie, I almost wept with joy when I read your comments on the necessity of organisational IP culture for successful implementation of IP strategy!  Personally I go even further because I believe that there is no such thing as IP strategy, merely IP tactics to bring effect to Corporate Strategy (capitalised advisedly).  HOWEVER there is “IP Culture”, and an organisation that aims to live by innovation (and without it every business dies) will focus hard on developing their IP Culture at every level of the organisation. 
    In my former life as IP Manager for NZ’s largest company I made cultivating an organisation-wide IP culture one of my top-3 responsibilities.  While that was cultivated most intensively with the R&D and technology commercialisation operations it permeated throughout the organisation to the extent that we built an “IP101” block into the corporate induction programme. 
    These days I am endeavouring to make Corporate IP Culture development a primary aspect of my consulting business, as should be evident from my home page.  You cannot imagine how reinforcing it was to have that ambition endorsed by such a wise sage as yourself!  Thanks for that.

  6. Thanks Allan – for the record, I don’t agree with your distinction between tactics and strategy, but I still like the point you’re making.Thanks Canuckinoz for your thoughts on trade marks and little guys.  Trade mark strategy for little guys is an interesting one – see the guest post by Allan that I just put up   We only have a few small clients, but from working with them, I think there’s always a risk of wasting time and money on branding at a stage that is way too early.  (I’m advocating focus and judicial deployment of resources.  I’m not saying that they should ignore branding.)

  7. Thanks McVooty – though I wouldn’t advise the leaders to try and understand in any depth what is protectable.  They usually think too narrowly and this leads to a lack of creativity – they decide before getting expert input and kill potentially very useful ideas / strategic moves.  Better to have them asking ‘why not?’ (Apologies that it took a while for your comment to come through, there’s a second button to click when you make a comment.  If you miss it, then it sits in the background until I get a chance to review and let it through.)

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