Intellectual property is, for many companies, an irreplaceable asset. Strategic IP management allows businesses to reap the full benefit of their investments in research and development as well as mergers and acquisitions. Managing IP, including patents, requires:
- Valuing IP based on novelty, strength, potential profit, and other factors.
- Protecting technologies, prioritizing protection for IP that fits within your IP strategy and offers the most value (or potential value).
- Proactively defending protected technologies from infringement.
- Monetizing IP using a variety of strategies, including new or improved products, licensing, and sale.
These functions are incredibly important to the ROI a company sees on its intellectual property. The right IP management decisions are the difference between a successful business and an organization that falls victim to a rapidly changing competitive landscape.
Best Practices for Managing IP Assets
IP management is a nuanced business practice that is different for every entity. It depends on how your organization generates valuable intellectual property, what industry you operate in, and many other factors—some quite large and others more minute. Regardless, these best practices can help your organization think strategically about how you manage your IP assets.
1. Review Often
Some industries move faster than others, making this best practice even more important. Regardless of how quickly the technology landscape around your products change, you should review your patents and other IP regularly. A tool like IP.com’s Patent Vitality Report (PVR) makes it easy for organizations to understand the value and validity of their IP assets based on overall strength, litigation risk, monetization potential, new technology value, and patent quality.
2. Make Data-Driven Decisions
With an up-to-date snapshot of your IP assets, you can make decisions about valuation, protection, infringement, and monetization based on data. Tracking the ratio of invention disclosures to patent applications to granted patents helps companies understand both the quantity and quality of their inventions. The right IP management tools can also visualize important data to make it more actionable, especially for executives.
3. Centralize Management
Intellectual property management encompasses many business functions. As an organization’s IP portfolio grows, managing it becomes more important, as well as more time-consuming and complex. Giving an individual or team ownership of IP management streamlines the process and creates a clear point of contact during any necessary cross-team collaboration. A software solution, overseen by the team that owns IP management, can be helpful in the process as well.
4. Mitigate Risk
Innovative IP is incredibly valuable to its owner but that value is not without risk. In order to mitigate the risk IP inherently carries with it, risks must first be identified. Your intellectual property management processes should consider risks and work to eliminate them. Technologies must be kept secret until protected; otherwise, an innovation may not be eligible for a patent at all. This requires educating employees on IP rights. IP must also be protected from interested third parties, including competitors, hackers, and governments.