What has IP reputation done for you?

If you look at past issues of IAM from the last 6 months you will see on average one article per month dealing with the topic of reputation management. And for good reason, as social media and increasing access to information now makes it easier for companies both to build and loose reputation…

Why talk about IP reputation management though? Because ramification of intellectual property actions can now more and more be seen spilling over in corporate reputation/brand creation.

IP reputation has become a powerful tool of many companies in recent times. If correctly managed it can be used to attract valuable talent (Google), to ward off competition and infringement threats (Apple), to gain favorable position in licensing deals (patent trolls), to generate goodwill within the market of operation (P&G management of open innovation platform), to obtain significant financial gain in buy-outs, mergers, or other financial transactions (Microsoft acquisition of Skype).

On the other hand treating IP without considering issues such as corporate marketing and branding can have significant downfalls. Some examples of IP reputation mismanagement and its effects can be found in copyright intensive industries in which public opinion can significantly influence the working of the market (Microsoft had a long reputation of bad wolf for its aggressive enforcement of patent rights).

Although I realize the value of creating and maintaining good IP reputation and can definitely recognize the downfalls for a large organization, I have my doubts about what IP reputation can really do for small and medium size businesses…

At what point can one separate IP reputation as a stand-alone phenomenon and benefit from it as such? What has IP reputation done for you?

Image credit: Nils Geylen

11 Comments on “What has IP reputation done for you?

  1. For small and medium size businesses, they need to have enough IP to garner respect with larger companies and fear from their equal-to and smaller competition. The most advantageous way to garner respect from larger companies is to have a focused patent portfolio that supports the business direction and to actively use that portfolio as leverage. Larger companies look for this as it shows a solid business plan (and they may want to purchase the smaller company). For fear, you need to enforce or place veiled threats in the channel or marketplace that you will enforce.

    • Thanks for a great
      commnet Gregory – yes, focus is incredibly important and, as a small innovative
      company it can be quite a challenge to reach the optimal focus (or “fear level”) in
      IP filings while balancing economies of resources and still making effective
      use of all IP on the market – clear vision and strong leadership are very
      crucial. This is why many funds investing in small and medium companies still
      rank management track record higher than IP position/reputation…. IP reputation as a stand alone attribute only comes latter with excellend and consistent application of a choosen strategy. 

  2. For me, IP reputation of one company is something  like an  indicator or landmark for its opportunities for future development. The innovativeness of companies like Apple and Samsung has become their hallmark. People begin to identify those companies with the degree of development of their intellectual property, because it makes them market leaders.

    Ventsi Stoilov

    • True…making the
      ability of a company like Apple, Nokia, Samsung  (other) to
       constantly taking advantage of those development opportunities and
      providing new solutions speedily to the market essential for promoting their reputation.

  3. Pingback: Innovationpartners » How do your IP actions reflect on your brand?

    • Hi Kristian and thanks for your commet…glad the post made you think  🙂

      I agree, somewhat, with your post….I do think
      though you are making the distinction between the relationship classes a bit too
      abrupt (maybe because you want to make a point).

      You said regarding enforcement “In relation to competitors and
      specialists you can turn on the heat a bit more” . Case in fact – a big company rightfully enforces it’s IPR rights
      against a smaller infringing company…although guilty the smaller infringing
      company starts a media attack against big company. The attack, directed to
      final customers, uses the BIG C size to portray them as ruthless enemies.
      Because of brand and reputation damage BIG C gives up the pursuit….

      No matter if your taking to specialist,
      customers or businesses  relationship ambiguity and communication channels
      today makes handling enforcements a delicate matter. 

      Also…loosing IP reputation can not only come
      from enforcements but also from (among others) the inability of the company to notice market
      trends and size opportunities. Nokia’s late start in the smart phone market is
      a case in point (from a “specialist” point of view their portfolio is
      still one of the best…from a “customer” point of view their
      reputation is significantly hurt and this can be seen in their sales of smart handsets, from a “competitors” position their
      IP portfolio is still a threat but in the end their ability to increase their innovation pace and speed
      to market will matter on the race for market share).

  4. I think it is becoming critical for all businesses, big and small. A small business can use the fragility of reputation as a tool to fight off bullying tactics of bigger players but by the same token, they themselves are vulnerable to overeaching when it comes to say, trade mark enforcement. IP litigation requires much more finesse these days.

      • Duncan, in recent months, I have seen it three times: against a fast food outlet by a small chocolatier. Didn’t work because of the chocolatier’s case was tainted by a bad decision of the local High Court upholding an earlier complaint by the same company so they felt emboldened enough to enter litigation. Against a global drinks brand and a bank, worked very effectively and both capitulated early on.

      • Thanks Darren – I
        am aware of some similar cases in EU – just wondering if you’ve seen any
        difference in the rate of success of this tactic in different other

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