What's really going on? Information and the art of war.

You’ve heard the old joke about the ship’s who sees a light in the distance, radios the source and asks them to change their heading. The response comes back – ‘no’. The Captain says ‘I’m a Captain in the Navy’, the other guys says ‘I’m a trainee’, the Captain says ‘I’m a battleship, you must change course’, the trainee says – ‘I’m a lighthouse’.

The Captain changes course.

Same thing happened to me last week when rushing around a European city in between meetings. I came out of one meeting, asked a passer-by for directions and started briskly walking down the street. Eventually, realising I was running late, and even though it was a beautiful sunny day and it was only a 10 minute walk, for the sake of timeliness, I grabbed a taxi and prepared to overpay for my trip to the next meeting. It cost a lot of money for such a short ride.

It was worth every cent – the first thing the taxi did was a U-turn – I had been walking in the wrong direction.

IP Strategy depends on high quality information. You can’t always have a full-scale monitoring program in place, but wherever possible, the highest quality information can be sought and integrated and the strategy iterated.

For a simple and powerful example, put yourself in the shoes of the CEO of a company who has just launched the next (only?) blockbuster product, only to face an injunction application for infringing a patent he has never heard about.

In Sun Tzu’s words “what enables the wise sovereign and the good general to strike and conquer and achieve things beyond the reach of ordinary men, is foreknowledge.”

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