GreyB - IP managing innovation
Part one of this article 'Your innovation strategy needs a strategy – fix it before it breaks' discussed how in order to create a sound business strategy, it is crucial for senior executives to form a baseline understanding of their IP strategy. However, most senior business executives have little to no involvement in the IP functioning of their team. It focused on the reasons for this and suggested the possible solutions.
This article – Part two – asked various senior executives at GreyB Research for their take on what comprises a system for IP management and solutions. Here is what they had to say.
Deepak Syal, director and head of IP operations, stated:
For a person responsible for leading the product and innovation strategy of their company, the challenge would be to identify trends such as:
- driving innovation and capturing ideas;
- aligning intellectual property to the business goals of the company; and
- leveraging data analytics for decision support.
Similarly, for law firms that are looking for solutions to collaborate with their clients in order to maintain transparency and enhance cost management, AI and machine learning can deliver actionable intelligence so as to drive efficiency across all IP operations.
Vikas Jha, assistant vice president and head of IP solutions, responded:
IP asset management is not just limited to docketing, task management and prosecution – it has evolved way beyond that. It should offer advanced filters for claim-by-claim clearance determinations, patent family tree visualisations and advanced data analytics.
Moreover, IP management tools can help in improving productivity by focusing on automation to reduce time for data entry and other tasks that consume a significant amount of time, making an organisation more vulnerable to risk.
Chakshu Kalra, director and head of IP sales, continued:
IP counsel need a single-location, collaborative IP management platform that can streamline their tasks and deliver comprehensive review mechanisms to manage their intellectual property. An all-inclusive reporting feature could allow the IP team to send and receive robust, structured and visually appealing reports, including various charts and graphs.
Moreover, IP teams need to measure their own performance, identify weaknesses and spot bottlenecks in their internal operations. Software that could provide a data-driven performance review across an IP team could help IP leaders to identify areas for improvement to boost productivity.
To sum up, an ideal IP management system should be capable of the following:
- IP segmentation and indexing – the system should be intelligent enough to assign technology tags automatically. If automatic tagging is not possible, the system should be flexible enough to allow users to manually assign tags and record comments and analysis.
- IP portfolio management – the system should provide the user with an insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the portfolio.
- IP valuation – the system should be intelligent enough to indicate an estimated dollar value (or any other equivalent measure).
- Competitive intelligence – the system should have sufficient analytics to provide insight into the IP and product strategy of competitors.
- Empower strategic decision making – using all the functionality of – and information in – the system, a business person (even with little knowledge of intellectual property) should be able to easily answer the questions that they frequently face.
Essentially, an IP-centric system can serve as a hub for your business operations, ensuring that people follow a set process to achieve consistent results. The biggest advantage of this is that companies can channel such consistency to scale up business growth.
The overriding effect of an IP system is that, instead of reacting to a crisis, you can proactively address issues. When you implement the right system, you free up time and mental capacity. With these extra resources, you can work to grow the business instead of focusing your energy on obtaining maximum output from your team.
Such a system could bring recurring value to your business by helping the IP team to:
- form an IP or patent policy for the company;
- continue the IP generation process;
- combine all functional elements, decision-making processes and their supporting work processes and databases;
- establish intellectual property as a legal document, business asset and tool for strategic and business decision making;
- establish competitive assessment practices;
- develop a valuation process and build value extraction tools; and
- increase the capability for licensing, joint ventures, joint development, collaborative research and strategic alliances.
What components of an IP system make business growth conducive?
IP strategy and business strategy are generally considered to be two distinct concepts; however, various statistics and expert opinions show a different trend emerging. According to an article published by WIPO: “Estimates vary, but experts believe between 70 percent and 90 percent of the market value of publicly traded companies is attributed to intellectual property.”
This may be because the world is gradually moving towards a knowledge-based economy and intellectual property is gaining recognition as a key business asset. Moreover, according to PwC, 80% of business executives believe that the capital generated through intellectual property to the value of their respective companies may increase over the next three to five years. However, intellectual property remains a poorly managed asset according to the same report.
Nevertheless, such statistics could reflect a change in the fortune of IP teams, as the significance of an IP strategy in a business strategy seems to be increasing.
In the competitive business environment, innovation is increasing and the companies that are prepared to develop the requisite competences are the ones that will survive. This is because innovation is driven by ideas, which are protected through intellectual property.
Executive awareness of increasing competition and the impact of information is pushing businesses towards innovation and intellectual property towards the centre of business decision making. Therefore, it is equally critical to capture the IP knowledge of a company in a centralised system that can help business executives to derive actionable insights for crucial business decisions.
To underpin the business strategy of a company, an IP management system should be capable of the following:
- Work tirelessly towards business-focused innovation goals, thereby providing a constantly evolving corpus of patents related to the products of interest – the system should offer a purpose-built, shareable and portable format for capturing patent work products on a claim-by-claim basis. It should provide varying insights to link future business requirements with intellectual property and the ability to create new assets.
- Create market-driven innovation by building a communication channel for collaboration (eg, among various team members and business executives keeping track of the project) – this can boost the IP strategy of the company and its product and development plans.
- Offer a common workplace or platform that will capture your analysis, comments and ancillary documents to create a formidable record of diligence, as well as accelerate innovation by providing points for design around in order to extend the list of promising innovations entering the value chain.
- Allocate budgets – the system should automatically rate intellectual property or at least provide the flexibility to rank intellectual property based on strength and market potential (eg, metrics), and prioritise these according to the business strategy of the company. Moreover, it should work like a licensing platform that can keep track of both inbound and outside licensed assets.
- Competitive assessment – the system should constantly scrutinise the IP portfolio of competitors and patent assertion entities or trolls to minimise both the risk of infringement and the need to pay licensing fees. It should offer insights relating to gaps in the portfolio in order to help stakeholders make decisions on entering into partnerships (eg, with competitors, research institutes and universities).
- Keep track of non-patented assets and pending patent applications related to the technology of interest – the system should offer editable, product feature-focused technology tags which associate the indexed patents with the relevant tech categories.
- Flag patents for review by R&D professionals, along with highlights and comments to direct attention to particular claim aspects for consideration – the system should also be flexible enough to share analysis and work products with both the internal team and outside counsel in a collaborative environment to capture their input.
- Include a functionality to start and maintain an active dialogue between R&D and legal to seamlessly manage patent risk – a multiple-level review system can improve visibility and maintain transparency, allowing stakeholders to provide instant feedback based on their experiences to ensure that analysis is heading in the right direction.