Intellectual property assets are more than just protection for valuable technology. Businesses with forward-thinking intellectual property strategies are also using IP to gain competitive advantages and drive new revenue opportunities. A holistic IP strategy can not only protect your business from an infringement lawsuit but allow you to leverage your IP assets for growth.
What is Intellectual Property Strategy?
An IP strategy helps entities manage their intangible assets—including patents, trade secrets, trademarks, and copyrights—in a way that aligns with their overall business strategy and goals. Developing the right intellectual property strategy depends on an organization’s industry and maturity. Regardless of these defining factors, a strategic plan should also be flexible.
A Comprehensive IP Management Strategy
According to intellectual property expert and Harvard Law School professor John Palfrey, if your organization has IP, it needs an IP management strategy. However, in many organizations, there is a disconnect between intellectual property and overall business strategy. This leads to not only missed opportunities but increased risk, as patent disputes filed in US District Courts rose to an estimated 3,777 cases in 2020.
Effective and strategic management of intellectual property includes three critical elements: protection, optimization, and monetization.
1. Protecting Intellectual Property
At their most basic level, patents protect your investments in IP by providing exclusionary rights. The methods for protecting intellectual property are growing more sophisticated, requiring companies to rethink the tools and processes they use for competitive intelligence and publishing. When publishing, it’s important to consider what type of protection—patent, trade secret, or defensive publication—is most valuable, as well as which geographic regions intellectual property needs to be protected in. Exclusionary rights must also remain strong throughout a product’s entire lifecycle.
Defensive publishing is becoming an important part of a comprehensive IP protection strategy. By disclosing an enabling description of an invention to the public, with a provable publication date and authenticity, it becomes prior art. Defensive publishing can also protect against two significant threats: patent trolls, or non-practicing entities, which apply for patents solely to collect license fees or damages; and “picket-fence” strategies, in which competitors patent incremental improvements around your core patent to erode its value and give them leverage to license your core technology on preferential terms.
2. Optimizing Processes
An intellectual property management strategy should be flexible and forward-thinking enough to guide your organization through each stage of the innovation cycle. Use your IP strategy to optimize the way you approach your intangible assets, from research and development to patent portfolio management. Investing in the right tools and processes allows you to maximize your business’s IP budget and allocate resources with confidence.
For example, a comprehensive patent search can take days, if not weeks, to execute due to the complexity of traditional patent search technologies and the size of patent databases. You can optimize the search process, as well as uncover actionable insights more quickly, by rethinking how your company completes patent searches. With an intuitive tool like InnovationQ Plus®, more individuals can conduct their own searches using natural-language queries. This optimization, and others like it, speeds up decision making and fosters a more agile and competitive organization.
3. Monetizing Assets
An IP strategy is ultimately judged by the value it creates for your organization. Monetization involves more than just getting products to market faster with exclusionary rights. A comprehensive portfolio management strategy also improves your ability to identify infringers and/or potential licensing partners. Strategically managing an IP portfolio can also help companies identify opportunities in adjacent markets—or new markets altogether—for new products or cross-licensing deals.