When developing an IP protection strategy there are five key points organisations need to consider. Knowing your outcome before you begin will make the process easier and clearer.
1 Organisation and corporate strategy:
Does your organisation have its own IP policy? If not, then now would be the time to develop one, especially if your organisation is based around innovation. If your organisation does have a corporate strategy, it is important to acknowledge that you do have a policy and it needs to be followed when you’re considering IP protection for outcomes projects and IP you are managing. Obviously, protection strategy will vary on the types of IP that come out of projects and innovation you are involved in, particularly if the value of those IP outcomes are important for your business. If you already have a significant portfolio of intellectual property, then it is important to ensure it is managed in a way that is consistent with the corporate strategy.
2 Scope and strength of protection:
This is a key element of your IP protection strategy. It is important to understand whether the new technology or innovation is novel and if there is an advantage in the outcomes from the project before you make your IP protection decision. Undertaking an IP Landscape review is highly recommended, so that you can understand where current innovation is, where there are gaps and which other companies hold patents in that space.
3 Capacity to build a number of enabling technologies:
In this case where an organisation was to license out the outcomes from a project or a patent, the commercial company will look at more than just an individual patent. A commercial company is going to look at the scope of that patent and the capacity to create a number of enabling technologies. Those enabling technologies may be protected in their own right. Commercial companies are looking for a long-term future in a correlating technology, not just the life of that initial patent.
4 The value of IP protection and achieving use:
It’s important to understand whether IP protection is required to gain commercial interest or uptake across the industry or your target market. This is an important question when you consider the cost of going forward, not only in a financial sense but also in a time sense in managing an IP portfolio and managing patents. If you do require commercial partners in your commercialisation process and to grow the value of IP protection, commercial partners needs to be identified. Questions to ask might include: What value does IP protection present to the commercial partners? Is IP protection critical for a partner to be attracted to take up the technology? The answer to those questions will really depend on a number of factors, in particular the requirement for commercial partners to invest in the technology before it can be commercialised. The more they need to invest, the greater risk they are taking. As risks increase then IP protection offers some security.
5 The willingness to defend:
The last point is often a difficult one. If you’re spending money, particularly around patents, you’re need to fully commit and be willing to defend your rights in that patent. That also applies to trademark protection, particularly if you’re moving into international market. If you’re spending the money to go international with trademarks, you really must step up to the mark (no pun intended) and be willing to defend those trademarks.
These are the five key elements to consider when you develop an IP protection strategy. Once you are clear on the strategic intent of your organisation the next step will be about understanding the business model and the business strategy that you have to support the protection of your IP and ensure the successful commercialisation of the IP.