Congratulations! Your patent has just issued. 3 years in the making. (Tens of) thousands of dollars spent. You must be so proud.
Now what are you going to do with it? How are you going to use it to enhance your business, your bottom line, your industry? You do know that patent is a business asset, right?
For the typical high-tech company (we’re not talking Pharma here), it’s easy to forget that patents are actually business assets. Often times, the pursuit of the patent is the focus, with little thought given to what the company will do with it once it has issued. In fact, once a patent issues, they are often ignored. Why? A patent holder does not have to use their patent, or practice the technology disclosed in it. They can simply own the patent, and that’s good enough for a majority of patent holders. They pursue the patent for the sake of having the patent.
Every asset you acquire for your business should have a purpose. Every asset should enhance your company’s value, reputation and message. (Do you really want an asset that doesn’t make your company better?) This is true for your company’s intellectual assets too. Just having a patent isn’t enough.
How do you ensure that your patent assets enhance your company’s value, reputation and message? Here are some suggestions to consider before you hang your latest patent on your “Wall of Fame.
1. Have an intellectual property plan for each new innovation. There is a notorious lack of intellectual property planning throughout businesses today. To plan effectively, the patent manager must know his or her client. (See https://ipinfocus.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/know-thy-client/ .) You have to know short-term plans, long-term plans, market size, budget, how this innovation is viewed by the business. Not all innovation is equal, so don’t assume every project should get the same amount of your attention and resources. An example of poor planning comes from Google. (See last week’s post. https://ipinfocus.wordpress.com/2011/07/25/by-the-numbers/) Google has gotten themselves into a pickle because they didn’t have a patent plan for their Android product-line. Now they have to seek out other company’s portfolios to bolster their own in hopes of staving off patent attacks by their competitors. Is this the position you want your $Billion product line to be in?
2. Set metrics and goals for your company’s patent management. Is it about quantity or quality? Are you spending the right amount of money on patents? What are your competitors doing? Am I potentially hurting my company if I don’t get a patent? To answer these questions, an organization has to know what it wants its intellectual property, particularly patents, to do for them.
3. Know why you are pursuing a patent to protect your innovation. This goes for EVERY patent. The “why” should tie back into your metrics and goals, and your plan.
4. Rank your patents. Not every patent is created equal. You have to know what is valuable and what’s not so that your resources go toward the right assets. Just because a patent starts out as a 1, doesn’t mean that over time it won’t become a 5 (or vice versa). Patents should be evaluated on a regular basis to address any changes to the business, internally or externally, that could impact value.
If you need help planning your organization’s intellectual property future, I can help you get started. Give me a call to discuss your planning needs.