In your experience, what are the key components of a world-class patent strategy?
I think the first step is knowing what IP protection best suits your innovation and building a strategy that covers all types of intellectual property, not just patents.
A holistic strategy is designed with the end goal in mind and can be segmented into five pillars. First, develop an IP-minded culture through IP literacy to ensure all employees have respect for intellectual property and know how to handle it. Second, have a clear strategy on what to protect and where. Third, implement processes to manage the IP portfolio such that it is always due-diligence ready, tracking to a long-term budget. Fourth, use patent databases to derive market/industry intelligence and competitive positioning. Finally, strategy must always consider monetisation opportunities as well as divesting assets. A well-rounded IP strategy is pragmatic but implemented in a proactive manner.
You have won praise for your non-conventional approach to IP strategy: how has this expanded your understanding of the different forms that a ‘win’ can take?
Our virtual IP service focuses on all types of intellectual property at all stages, meaning that we see the benefit of supporting the entire innovation lifecycle compared to a piecemeal approach. So wins are bigger than an issued patent.
In the beginning, early wins that feed the bigger picture come in the form of buy-in from employees on culture, compliance with best practices, and a structured idea capturing and adjudication process. It is a willingness to learn and listen through the resources we provide. A win is when IP protection becomes intrinsic in everyday operations and clients feel confident in the decisions we are making together.
A big component of our approach is proactive implementation and pragmatic decisions so, if we do our jobs right, clients are prepared for what is coming down the road. A win is providing peace of mind to the executive team.
Sometimes wins even mean that clients no longer require our services, such as acquisitions bolstered by a valuable IP portfolio.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Founding the Stratford IP practice and working with an amazing team. When I started it in 2009, it was just myself and I was supplementing the work done by patent firms. Through hard work and with the help of my team (15 and growing), we have built something truly unique. Now, we are a full-service patent and trademark agency consisting of a best-in-class team of IP agents, analytics experts, and IP strategy experts. There was an incredible sense of pride when we expanded our services and clients were quick to transfer full responsibility to us. Knowing our clients trust us with their intellectual property is not something we take lightly and I am proud of the work we have done and the relationships we have built.
How do you manage expectations and maintain close working relationships with clients when the stakes are so high?
Our VIP service business model is unique, allowing us to become part of our client’s executive team to work with them to develop and implement a customised IP strategy. Through an ongoing retainer, we become embedded in the organisation, focused on their growth and success. Their wins are our wins.
Because we prioritise a pragmatic approach to IP strategy, we can see the big picture, which goes a long way in helping to manage expectations. We work with executives to build an IP strategy that aligns with the overall business goal, so decisions have actionable, data-driven results. With long-term engagements we can proactively implement aspects of IP strategy that are often overlooked or put on the back burner.
What emerging technological trends are having the biggest impact on your practice right now – and how can companies best position themselves to take advantage of these?
Advances in AI, robotic process automation, pharmaceutical processes, cleantech/biotech innovations, capabilities enabled by quantum computing and 5G networks are some trends that have a big impact on our clients and their ability to offer innovative, patentable products and improve their decision making. We have been involved in these fields for several years. Through our advanced patent analytics service, we help our clients navigate through the landscapes of patents and find the opportunities available for protection and make the best decisions about product road maps.
Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, Stratford Intellectual Property President Natalie Giroux leads a team of IP strategy experts to deliver endto- end IP strategy and implementation services. With a Master’s in computer science and over 25 years in the industry, her expertise lies in strategic IP management, innovation management, network performance engineering and technical due diligence. Ms Giroux has been leaning in as a trusted IP advisor since founding the IP practice at Stratford in 2009.