To all entrepreneurs and start-ups…to all research institutions and universities…to all high tech companies around the world…to all of the VPs, GCs, Directors, CEOs, Trustees, if you are on your company’s management team, what do you want your intellectual property to do for your company?  What’s the goal?  What do hope to accomplish in the end?

Do you want to license?

Do you want to give your knowledge away to the world?

Do you want to avoid risk?

Do you want to own your space, your market, your territory?

Do you (not) want to be a ‘bully’ or a ‘troll’?

Do you need money?  Respect?  Leverage?

IP can do a lot for your business, but you have to decide what you want it to do for your business.  Before we go any further, it’s time for you to turn inward and really think about what your IP is doing for you now, what it could do for you, and what you want it to do for you.  To do this, you need to know what assets you have, your markets, your risks, your competitors (and what assets they have), and yourselves.  You need to know what you value (and don’t value) as an organization.  Only with this knowledge can you properly manage your portfolio.

IP management occurs when an organization uses processes and systems to take charge of its patents, trademarks, copyrights, know-how, and trade secrets, allowing for their continuous and efficient capture, as well as their effective use.  You can easily capture IP, but in order to effectively use your IP, you need a goal to manage to.  Your goal will determine your strategy.  Your strategy will determine the tactics you choose to achieve that goal.

My goal is to get you to think about how you use your IP.  Too many companies feel the ultimate goal is to get the patent.  There’s a prevailing attitude that you must get a patent because you invented something.  WRONG!  You need to stop thinking about patents as an award for innovation.  Intellectual property protection is too expensive and time-consuming to waste your money on an award.  Intellectual property is a business asset.  What do you want that business asset to do for your business?

As you start acquiring and protecting your intellectual property assets, it is so important to know what your IP mission is.  Ask yourself, why are we pursuing patent protection?  If you are not clear about your objective, how do you know you even have the right IP for your business?

Choose a path.  Choose a direction.  Choose to use your IP.