Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines ‘culture’ as ‘the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization.’ Where do those shared attitudes and values come from? They come from the organization’s leaders. An organization’s culture is usually defined by what its leaders hold dear. That could be profit, customer service, community, technology, innovation, etc. An organization could have a culture of collaboration or openness, or one of silos and competition. Whatever the culture, it is defined and perpetuated by the message that the organization’s leadership team sends to the employees.

So, the rank-and-file employees take their cues from the company’s leaders. If your organization has the benefit of a strong leader, then the odds increase that what the leader thinks is important will also be important to the employees. Think Bill Gates at Microsoft, Steve Jobs at Apple, Jeff Bezos at Amazon.com, or Tony Hsieh at Zappos.com. Each one is an example of a strong leaders who set the tone for his company’s deep-seated culture and values.

This principle holds true for intellectual property too. If the company’s leaders understand and value intellectual property, the odds are pretty good that the employees of the company will too. In fact, to be successful with intellectual property management, an organization must have a culture where IP is valued by its employees, and not just a few employees who are paid to care about it, but by everyone in the organization. In order to create that culture, the company’s management must make it clear that they care about intellectual property. They need to set the rules and communicate those rules to the employees.

Creating a meaningful culture takes time and effort. How can an organization create a pro-IP culture? Here are a few suggestions to begin developing your IP culture.

1. Establish an intellectual property policy for the organization that spells out the rules. The Human Resources department should instruct all new hires about the policy and what is expected.

2. Regular intellectual property education is an important way to continue to get the message out that your organization takes IP seriously.

3. Any IP success, be it a new patent or a licensing deal, should be communicated to the extent possible with the employees.

4. The IP Policy must be enforced. Otherwise, employees will feel free to ignore the rules.

Does your organization have a culture that values intellectual property? If not, why not?

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