In order to be competitive, firms need to move past the antiquated view of intellectual property management: simple management of documents, deadlines, and other legal processes. Given the tools available and deep impact that IP management has on firm performance, effective IP management is much broader and substantial in its tasks. Rather than being limited to handling paperwork, IP management requires integrating R&D, product, and business units into a cohesive IP strategy.
With effective implementation, IP management can help researchers determine which areas of industrial research are promising and areas where existing patent would block any meaningful innovation. By including product managers and business units in the process, management can identify opportunities in their patent portfolio and compare it to trends in the market. In particular, decisions can be made on whether prosecuting certain areas is viable, or whether there is greater opportunity in licensing a technology or abandoning the patent entirely. Business units are frequently unaware of the cost of maintaining a patent portfolio, and the inclusion of their input on its maintenance can help identify opportunities for cost savings and optimization.
Classifying a patent portfolio and administering its assets are crucial to success. In order to identify a ‘successful’ patent, it is important to develop classifications and categories for patents based on implementation, product life cycles, licensing fees, and other valuable data points. This helps IP managers in identify the actual cost and value provided by a patent, and allows for a much more quantitative analysis of a portfolio. More importantly, this can be analyzed further to determine whether patents were actually implemented, or if there are research areas where patents did not lead to meaningful implementation or product innovation.
From a practical perspective, IP managers can gain more insight into the developmental pipeline within an organization and deliver more value by being integrated into the R&D process. By actively participating and providing feedback during the development phases, IP managers can kill efforts that would be ineffective or run afoul of existing competitor IP. This would allows R&D teams to focus on areas where 'patentable' improvements exist, and prevent dead-end efforts from wasting organizational effort. Rather than off-loading these tasks as the end part of the R&D process, IP managers can increase efficiency by serving as advisers on viable research areas. In being proactive, IP managers can engage in patent landscaping in order to provide continuous intelligence on the technology areas being actively engaged by the R&D team.
Effective IP management is best summarized as providing intelligence and alternating the role that IP managers typically play within an organization. This involves maintaining a central system for patent and docket management, as well as buy-in from the organization to integrate the role of the IP manager into the R&D process. By focusing on these areas, IP managers can provide greater value to their organizations.
Looking to improve your IP management process? Learn more about Wellspring for Intellectual Property Management