The traditional way of managing Intellectual Property (IP) is being encroached upon by new business processes, new technology, and outside pressures that are challenging the status quo. IP isn’t just a weapon to shield organizations from competition, but a strategic asset that drives calculated decisions across business units. Today, more than 80% of a company’s valuation comes from its intangible assets (the majority of which is IP), compared to just 20% in 1978.* In addition, there has been a significant increase in volume and variety of IP data available, along with the velocity with which the data is being added, that is adding a new layer of complexity for IP professionals.
Despite this dramatic shift in both the role of IP and the amount of data available, many companies haven’t changed the way they manage IP in their organizations to keep up. For every organization and IP professional who is reluctant to leave the comfortable, traditional approach, there are just as many competitors who are yearning to embrace the future of an IP-driven organization. The new approach to IP in a modern, data-driven world is here—it’s time to embrace the change or be left behind.
IP As an Afterthought vs IP Strategy First
IP is – and always will be – complex. The traditional method of managing and analyzing IP is to assign it to your organization’s Legal staff (patent attorneys study this stuff, so no one else should touch it, right?). Certainly, when intangible assets were only 20% of a company’s valuation, you could afford to assign IP solely to Legal. But today, at least 80% of a company’s value is intangible, the majority of which is a result of intellectual property assets. The systems and processes of Legal-focused IP simply aren’t scalable.
Consider the process when an internal inventor has a new idea. IP is an afterthought. Innovation and R&D have done their jobs, a new product is in the works, and now something needs to be protected — a patent and/or trademark are needed. Engineers submit their ideas, but they are put in a black box with limited feedback. If the Engineer is lucky, he’ll be notified that his patent has been filled or granted — often years after the idea was submitted. This lack of collaboration between the very busy and overwhelmed Legal team suffocates inventors’ desire to create and submit ideas because they feel the company doesn’t care about R&D. The consequence is that innovation at the organization slows to a trickle, which can have a detrimental impact to the company’s market position.
Using an IP Strategy First method, strategic decisions are enabled as goals are aligned across departments, including Research, Innovation, Business Strategy, and Legal. The IP strategy has been developed using a big data approach, correlating business and IP data to determine where the high value technology areas are for protection, who the competitors are for that technology area, and what their patent and trademark filing trends have been. Inventors are encouraged to submit ideas, while the company worries they aren’t tapping into all the ideas inventors have. Others are working to determine how to best monetize the patent portfolio to align with the business’ strategy, determining which technologies should be protected, sold, or licensed down the line. Innovation is thriving in this example and is aligned with the overarching strategy and goals of the company.
To compete in today’s business environment, having as much information as possible to make decisions is critical. If you aren’t leveraging IP data to make strategic business decisions, there is a good chance your competitors are. Don’t get left behind.
Dig a Little Deeper
Watch the on-demand webinar, “Intellectual Property Management: Consequences of the ‘Old’ Approach in a Data-Driven Era” to learn more about the difference between traditional and modern approaches to managing IP, the risks of continuing to use traditional tactics, and steps you can take to become IP-centric.
Innography is an award-winning provider of patent search and intellectual property analytics software that helps the world’s leading patent owners, innovators, and decision-makers drive more business value from IP investments.
*Source: Davis, Julie L., and Suzanne S. Harrison. Edison in the Boardroom Revisited. Wiley. 2012.