Archive for Intellectual Assets

Aug
11

Ramping Up External Innovation Fatigue

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Without wishing to be political, I have to say that I am worried about the future of innovation in light of “external innovation fatigue factors” that arise when government creates imposing barriers for innovators, especially for small businesses and lone entrepreneurs. As we note in Conquering Innovation Fatigue, the problem is often one of unintended consequences from well-intended actions. In the past several years, there has been an acceleration in regulatory burdens, tax burdens, and litigation risks that make starting or running an innovative business riskier than ever. Mounds of cash have been taken from the private sector and given to government agencies and large institutions for so-called stimulus or bailouts, but the real cost of such “help” is rarely considered. We see failed organizations on life support and may be happy to hear of thousands of jobs in these firms that appear to be saved, but we don’t get to see and consider the small businesses that dry up due to the money that was channeled elsewhere or that face the burden of unfair competition from failing institutions shielded from the consequences of their less competitive business models.

We see many leaders calling for even higher taxes on those who are (or would have been) most likely to create jobs and launch businesses. We see government making it more difficult and costly to obtain the energy that is literally and figuratively the fuel of our economy. We see US corporations facing burgeoning regulations regarding environmental issues, hiring practices, benefits, etc., that are not found in the nations we import from, with the natural consequence of punishing those who wish to produce in the US and motivating them to close shop here and go elsewhere. We see increased government intervention at all levels of the private sector, often favoring the large and well connected while leaving the lone innovators and start-ups in the dust, strangled with red tape and choking with uncertainty about the future. Meanwhile, property rights, including intellectual property, are increasingly in jeopardy. This is the stuff of “external innovation fatigue.” It’s been bad for years, and it’s accelerating now at a dangerous pace.

Those who wish to launch new businesses and reap the rewards of their innovation can still succeed, but need additional help and caution in moving forward and finding the right partners, business models, and approaches to reduce the risks and create lasting competitive advantage that can survive the billowing waves of external fatigue factors. We offer guidance in the book on these issues, including the need to be more holistic in pursuit of intellectual property, taking the path that we call 360-degree intellectual assets. Thinking about patents exclusively can lead to excessive costs and disappointments. I suggest reading carefully our recommendations on holistic intellectual assets and giving us a call for further guidance. Innovationedge can be reached at 920-967-0466.

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Jul
19

Startups and Patents: New Study Sheds Light on Practices and Reasons for Filing

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The recently published Berkeley Patent Survey is one of the most comprehensive studies to date on the use of patents by startups and entrepreneurs. PatentlyO discusses the study and offers some helpful insights. The study shows that startups are using patents more than was previously recognized, for past analysis based was limited by incomplete USPTO data on patent assignments. Search results for patents owned by a particular startup may miss the patents owned by founders and others that are being used by the startup but may not yet be listed in the USPTO database as being assigned to the company. By interviewing entrepreneurs, the authors were able to determine that:

[A]bout 40% of our respondents hold patents or applications, with the figure rising to about 80% for startups funded by venture capital firms.

As expected, this figure varies widely by industry—for example, 97% of venture-backed biotechnology companies hold patents or applications, while only 67% of venture-backed software startups do. And among the general population of software startups responding, the rate was only about 25%.

–From Robert Merges and Pamela Samuelson, UC Berkeley School of Law and Ted Sichelman, University of San Diego School of Law, in “Patenting by Entrepreneurs: The Berkeley Patent Survey (Part I of III),” PatentlyO.com, July 19, 2010.

In our experience, many of the best startups take IP seriously and seek to file patents when they have something potentially patentable. In our experience, Venture Capitalists look for patents as a way to increase the chances of meaningful returns. Patents are an important part of the recipe for success and long-term profits for a startup. Don’t neglect them!

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Amyris Biotechnologies logoIn my ongoing work on analyzing the intellectual property landscape in biofuels, one of the most impressive companies I’ve run across is Amyris, a renewable products company whose clever use of synthetic biology goes far beyond biofuels. Amyris was founded by Kinkead Reiling, Neil Renninger, and Jack D. Newman who met at Berkeley and founded Amyris in 2003, headquartered in Emeryville, California. With a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, they first developed their technology under a non-profit initiative to provide a reliable and affordable source of artemisinin, an anti-malarial therapeutic. It was viewed as a long-shot, but they found success that paved the way for the growth of the company into other areas. They are now developing new microbial strains that can produce other useful molecules from renewable feedstocks. This industrial synthetic biology platform is providing alternatives to a broad range of petroleum-sourced products. he extremely useful molecule farnesene is an important part of their business. It provides a compound that can be used to produce flavors, perfumes, detergents, cosmetics, biodiesel, and other products.

This week Amyris created a stir by announcing a record number of deals and partnerships for a single week (a record among bioenergy companies, according to Biofuels Digest). These partnerships include P&G, Total, Soliance, Cosan, M&G Finanziaria, and Shell:

Amyris has taken it up a notch with a series of stunners surrounding its synthetic farsenene, which it has named Biofene – the first product that Amyris is seeking to produce at commercial scale.

Beyond its success this week with Biofene announcements, which are the basis for the P&G, M&G and Soliance partnerships — there are the broader arrangements with Cosan to develop a platform in renewable chemicals, and the equity agreement with Total that will provide needed capital as well as a broader platform for Amyris’s expansion into hydrocarbon fuels.

The mysterious agreement with Shell, regarding diesel, is one to watch. The decidedly vague disclosure was buried in Amyris’ amended S-1A registration statement, but not otherwise mentioned in a flurry of press releases from the company as it promotes its expansion in this pre-IPO environment. Shell Western Trading & Supply is one of 17 Shell trading companies that buy and sell to customers within and outside of Shell.

This news shows an interesting example of companies forming partnerships with an innovative start-up with great technology and apparently highly valuable IP. According to my Patbase search, Amyris has 21 patent families, quite a large number for such a young company. They clearly have been active and aggressive in pursuing patent protection, and those patents are critical for the meaningful partnerships they are now forming. It’s a great unfolding story of open innovation and technology transfer.

The story extends beyond the US. They have operations in Brazil, for example, which is one of the world’s hotbeds for bioenergy, bioproducts, and collaborative innovation.

Further information comes from today’s article, “Amyris: farnesene and the pursuit of value, valuations, validation and vroom,” also from Biofuels Digest.

Weakened IP Rights: An Innovation Fatigue Factor

Weakened IP Rights: An Innovation Fatigue Factor

The ability of an inventor to profit from an invention for a limited time, while also sharing the advances with the world to further knowledge, is the genius of the patent system. The availability of patent protection has done much to advance the economy of the United States and other nations that have shown respect for property rights, including intellectual property. Without that option, advances in knowledge will tend to be held as closely-guarded trade secrets, not published knowledge, which was one of the key characteristics of the Medieval Ages and earlier IP-deprived times. For this reason, we should be concerned at trends in the US where patents are increasingly under attack in the courts and where the ability to get patents in a reasonable time is increasingly difficult at the USPTO.

Innovation fatigue due to inadequate intellectual property rights and property rights in general occurs in many other nations today, and is strongly correlated with economic difficulty in such nations. Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist and winner of many awards such as the 2006 Innovation Award from The Economist for the promotion of property rights and economic development, has shown that lack of property rights has been a key factor in keeping poor nations poor. It is respect of property rights that creates the means for men to be equal in opportunity. Intellectual property rights are part of that, and when they are in jeopardy, we should be concerned.

In Brazil, for example, a nation with tremendous potential for further economic development, recent government actions related to a trade dispute with the US over cotton threaten to reduce the value of US patents held by people in Brazil. In “Brazil Close to Declaring War on US IP” over at IAM Magazine, we read about the dangerous actions being taken by the Brazilian government. There may be many long-term costs for whatever short-term gains they obtain. This could harm innovation and economic development in that nation.

One example in the US of the attack on patent rights comes from the recent court case Association for Molecular Pathology v. USPTO in which a body of patents obtained by Myriad Genetics (NASDAQ:MYGN) has been declared invalid by a judge using dubious arguments presented by the ACLU. I am especially troubled that the patents were declared invalid for not treating patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101.

Eric Guttag over at IP Watchdog offers some convincing arguments about the absurdity of the ACLU’s position and the injustice of Judge Sweet’s rulings. Please read the full article, “Foaming at the Mouth: The Inane Ruling in the Gene Patents Case.” Here is one excerpt:

What is most alarming about Judge Sweet’s opinion is his characterization (or more appropriately mischaracterization) of the CCPA’s Bergy case. Judge Sweet makes numerous quotes from Judge Rich’s opinion in Bergy on how 35 U.S.C. § 101 should be interpreted. But what Judge Sweet neglects to point out is that Judge Rich ruled in Bergy that a biologically pure culture was deemed to be patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101. Why did Judge Sweet neglect to point out this highly relevant fact? Instead, if the holding in Bergy is considered in appropriate context, it supports Myriad’s “isolated” BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene sequences as being at least patent-eligible under 35 U.S.C. § 101 because they don’t exist in nature and cannot exist without significant human intervention. . . .

In the end, it is my considered opinion that Judge Sweet knew the result he wanted to reach (i.e., invalidate Myriad’s patents), and simply cobbled together a justification for it. (Treating the claims in Myriad’s patents are a “lawyer’s trick” also doesn’t suggest impartiality.) If nothing else, there is enough of a dispute about the essential facts needed to reach Judge Sweet’s conclusion to deny the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment of invalidity based on 35 U.S.C. § 101. That Judge Sweet needed to spend 152 pages trying to justify his grant of plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment speaks volumes about why this grant was inappropriate.

At many levels in the US and in other nations, there seems to be an increasing hostility toward patents and intellectual property rights for inventors. One of the best things that can be done to stimulate the economy right now would be to strengthen the USPTO, reduce examination time, and instill a healthy respect in the judiciary for property and intellectual property rights. Adding to the uncertainty, cost, and delay of patent protection only weakens the economy, and hinders innovation through yet another “innovation fatigue factor.”

Mar
16

GotInvention Radio: Listen This Thursday Night, and Next

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One of the real champions of innovation and entrepreneurship, Brian Fried, has created a successful new radio program to meet the needs of inventors and entrepreneurs: Got Invention Radio at GotInvention.com. It’s a one-hour show every Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. CST (if you’re in China or Singapore, for example, that should be 8 a.m. Friday morning–the perfect way to start your day!) I’m the next guest this Thursday night. I’ll be speaking about intellectual property, with practical tips for inventors who want to get quality patent protection. There are some pitfalls to avoid and some tips you need to know about. A quality patent can make all the difference for the long-term success of a product or business, so tune in and join the conversation.

At least two callers will receive free copies of the book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue. Please mention this blog when you call!

Go to Gotinvention.com/shows and click on the green area in the upper right-hand portion of the screen to launch your media player and listen. To be a caller, dial 877-474-3307. Please join us this Thursday night, March 18.

The following week, March 25, you can hear Cheryl Perkins, CEO of Innovationedge. Don’t miss that one, either!

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Feb
16

When Inventions Are Ahead of Their Time, Long-Term IP Strategy Becomes Essential

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As an inventor and US patent agent, one of my painful experiences in the pursuit of patents at past employers and on my own has been unexpected encounters with prior art. Even after serious and careful searching, one may later find that someone else pursued a very similar idea many years ago. Like the Good Book says, there is no truly novel thing under the sun, though there may be many nonobvious improvements thereof.

A great example of this is the iPod, an invention and innovation that may have been anticipated to some degree in 1979. “Suspiciously Prescient Man Files Patent for iPod-Like Device in 1979” is Dan Nosowitz’s recent post at Gizmodo pointing out how an old, expired patent hinted at several aspects of the iPod. Of course, music players and MP3s were already around when the iPod came out, but the 1979 data is rather surprising. That patent may have had some great concepts, but like many inventive concepts, it may have been too early to be practical and successful. Timing is so important for success in innovation: is the market ready, is the supply chain available, is there an ecosystem that can be tapped, can the concept stick and resonate with other innovations, and can it be offered economically?

Consideration of the market roadmap for a prospective innovation can be critical for success. Many times success requires adjusting the business model to find the resonances that can add energy to the offering and to find ways to present the innovation in a disruptive manner rather than going head-on against established incumbents. Innovation is often more about the business model and marketing plan than it is about the technology itself. The iTunes model was part of what made the iPod a winner. 1979 was the wrong digital era for that invention. (A hat tip to RobMcNealy on Twitter for a mention of the Gizmodo article.)

Another example of an invention ahead of its time was the photophone of Alexander Graham Bell. About.com’s article on Mr. Bell explains:

Among one of his first innovations after the telephone was the “photophone,” a device that enabled sound to be transmitted on a beam of light. Bell and his assistant, Charles Sumner Tainter, developed the photophone using a sensitive selenium crystal and a mirror that would vibrate in response to a sound. In 1881, they successfully sent a photophone message over 200 yards from one building to another. Bell regarded the photophone as “the greatest invention I have ever made; greater than the telephone.” Alexander Graham Bell’s invention reveals the principle upon which today’s laser and fiber optic communication systems are founded, though it would take the development of several modern technologies to realize it fully.

One of the challenges with visionary inventions is obtaining suitable intellectualy property. Patents expire in 20 years from the filiing date, which may not be enough to do any good when a visionary concept finally becomes economically viable. The IP estate must be developed with a broad time frame in mind and should include elements that last longer than patents such as trademarks, as well as a series of patent applications over time that reflect ongoing innovation and competitive awareness. Strategy and vision in the IP can be almost as important as the vision of the invention itself.

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The latest Journal of Product Innovation Management (JPIM), an excellent journal from PDMA for those interested in innovation and new product development, has an article that describes an approach to disruptive innovation that we developed at Kimberly-Clark Corporation when I was there as Corporate Patent Strategist. “Disruptive Innovation and the Need for Disruptive Intellectual Asset Strategy” by Jeff Lindsay and Mike Hopkins (JPIM, Vol. 27, No. 2, March 2010, pp. 283-290), addresses one of the large gaps in the literature around disruptive innovation, namely, what role intellectual assets should play. Search through the popular books and articles by leading authorities in disruptive innovation and you will find scant reference, if any, to intellectual assets, yet they may be key to overcoming the dilemma faced by corporations. A small, aggressive team in a corporation can employ a variety of low-cost intellectual asset (IA) tools to mitigate potential competitive threats from disruptive innovation, while also subtly laying a foundation for future offensive disruptive innovation from the company. By the time the corporation as a whole recognizes the value of an emerging disruptive innovation, it need bot be too late, as is often case, for the initially defensive actions that were taken at an early stage can now provide a serendipitous foundation for taking the offense. It’s not easy, but the odds of success or survival can be significantly increased.

Here is our abstract:

Disruption has become a popular business term, yet it is often used so loosely as to convey almost nothing of substance. Here a largely neglected factor is addressed: the role of intellectual assets in securing opportunities for or averting threats from disruptive innovations. While the literature explains why the decision-making systems in large established companies cause difficulty in responding effectively to disruptive innovation the generation of intellectual assets (e.g., patents, publications, trademarks) typically is not subject to the same cultural and structural barriers. Though it may be difficult to convince a business to invest millions in pursuit of a speculative disruptive innovation, it is much easier for a small team to gain support in pursuing low-cost intellectual assets in the name of mitigating potential threats. A two-pronged approach is proposed that builds on the authors’ experience at Kimberly-Clark Corporation in dealing with disruptive threats and opportunities. The approach calls for generation of intellectual assets, often using small proactive teams, to (1) protect an existing business by reducing competitive risks from disruptive innovation, including the risk of new products with disruptive potential and the risk of associated competitive patents that might limit one’s response; and (2) prepare for future new and disruptive business opportunities that could be protected or strengthened by the intellectual assets generated. Kimberly-Clark’s growing experience with this approach suggests that it may be a valuable component of one’s strategy for innovation and protection of the business.

Jan
21

For Economic Recovery, Let’s Strengthen the Patent and Trademark Office–Not Rob It of Resources

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One of the most interesting patent attorneys on the blogosphere is the inimitable Gene Quinn of IPWatchdog.com. His top five patent stories of 2009 are especially noteworthy. He doesn’t exactly hold back on his opinions about these stories, and for the most part I have to agree. All of these stories fit in with the theme of innovation fatigue in some way.

Quinn’s Top Story #4, “USPTO Allowance Rate, Backlog and Pendency” is a topic we address in our book and one of grave importance for the economic welfare of this nation. We bemoan the sharp drop in allowance rates and the increased time it now takes to get a patent allowed. We worry that this adds further discouragement to innovators and harms the economy. Quinn makes even bolder statements:

I think the allowance rate, backlog and pendency issues deserve their own place in the top 10 because of the toll that it has had on the US economy, which is inexcusable and darn near treasonous during a recession as bad as anything we have seen since the Great Depression, and perhaps on par with the economic troubles of the late 1970s.

During the first quarter of 2009 the allowance rate for patent applications dipped to 42%. At the end of fiscal year 2009 there were 1,207,794 patent applications pending at the US Patent Office, with 735,961 of those still awaiting first action by a patent examiner, which means that 735,961 patent application had yet to be picked up and even looked at substantively. At the end of FY 2009 the average length to first action by a patent examiner was 25.8 months, and the average total pendency of a patent application was 34.6 months, up from 25.6 and 32.2 respectively for FY 2008. [Quinn then explains that the real pendency may be 50% higher because people often need to file a new application, a Request for Continued Examination, after the first gets a final rejection. This restarts the clock and obscures just how long it takes on average to get a patent issued.]

To put this into some historical perspective, take a look at the chart [see Quinn’s original article]. You can see that the backlog started its upswing noticeably in 1998, and just went out of control over the last decade. Under the Bush Administration the USPTO held innovation hostage, prevented small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs from getting investor funding and that created a drag on the economy, prevented the creation of new jobs and then when widespread economic disaster hit the Patent Office was unable to play a part in recharging the US economy.

Ouch! But as an inventor and former Corporate Patent Strategist familiar with the pains and burdens of delay, I can’t bring myself to disagree! As I continue working with inventors, both within corporations and lone inventors or small teams in start-ups, I have seen a great deal of discouragement when people learn just how long it takes to obtain a patent, and just how difficult it has become. Bold, original, brilliant concepts that need intellectual property to better secure investment are held up and may die due to the ever growing backlog and increasing delays from the PTO.

If we want to conquer innovation fatigue in the United States, we need to give the U.S. Patent and Trademark Offices the resources it needs to provide rapid examination and swiftly reduce the disastrous backlog in cases.

Are we headed in the right direction now? No, I’m afraid not. When our book went to press early in 2009, I expressed relief that past Congressional siphoning of funds from the PTO had ended. Unfortunately, I spoke too soon. What is essentially a tax on innovation came back in the closing days of 2009, as we learn from the nation’s leading investigative reporter on patent topics, John Schmid of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In his story from Dec. 29, 2009, “ Congress Deals Funding Blow to Patent Office: Budget Strips $100 Million Provision for Backlogged Agency,” he shares the disturbing news that Congress has again acted to take money away from this essential and underfunded office.

The $1.1 trillion spending bill that Congress passed this month bankrolls thousands of pet projects: the World Food Prize in Iowa, a farmers market in Kentucky, and a 12-mile bike path in Michigan, among many others.

And to pay for a fraction of its largesse, Congress added one late change to the budget: It slapped a restrictive spending ceiling on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, further cramping an agency that was already incapacitated by more than a decade of congressional raids on its fees.

A Journal Sentinel investigation published in August documented how congressional diversions of the agency’s income from 1992 through 2004 left the Patent Office incapable of keeping pace with the volume and complexity of the applications it receives. The backlog has grown to more than 1.2 million applications, which the agency has said could take at least six years to get under control – assuming it receives the funding to hire and train new examiners.

But a budgetary provision that could have allowed it to spend up to an additional $100 million during the current fiscal year was stripped on Dec. 9, the final day of budget negotiations.

“We are currently operating on a barebones budget that makes it very difficult to attack our application backlog,” said Sharon Barner, the agency’s deputy director.

The last-minute move further frustrated critics who say the Patent Office has become dysfunctional because of mismanagement and underfunding.

Washington’s policy-makers fail to recognize that innovation – which the Patent Office is designed to encourage and protect – has become the key driver of competitiveness and job creation, said Hank Nothhaft, chief executive of chipmaker Tessera Technologies in San Jose, Calif., and a prominent advocate to repair the years of damage at the Patent Office.

“Everyone in Washington is talking about job creation,” often to justify stimulus projects and automaker bailouts, Nothhaft said. “And then they turn around and take money from the agency that can create high-value jobs.”

Read the full story and let your Congressional representatives know how you feel. This tax on innovation is a terrible step in the wrong direction. We need to be adding fuel to this critical engine of economic growth, not siphoning it out of the gas tank.

To conquer innovation fatigue, a healthy and efficient patent system is needed.

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Nov
23

Death Panels for Innovation: How Are Your Corporate IP Review Boards Doing?

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Is Your Comapny on the Cutting Edge of Innovation?

Is Your Company on the Cutting Edge of Innovation? Your IP Review Board May Be.

Death panels have been a hot topic for speculation from some folks worried about health care reform, but in the world of innovation, genuine death panels have long been in place in corporations. Innovation death panels, disguised as intellectual property review committees or IP review boards, have been sending great inventions and great business concepts to an early death for decades. Further, the ways these panels operate can kill innovation at a broader level by discouraging inventors, keeping them out of the loop, and ensuring that whatever is left of their drive is unlikely to bear fruit.

Rationing has to be a reality when it comes to IP because only a small fraction of potentially valuable concepts justify the expense of filing a patent. But failure to pursue a patent need not be an innovation killing event. It can, in fact, be a valuable opportunity. When operated properly, the IP review board can provide a tremendous opportunity to educate, motivate, guide, and inspire corporate inventors, even when the current invention they have brought forward is not right for patenting.

One key is treating the inventors with respect and giving them a chance to be heard, as well as a chance to hear and learn from the review board. Many inventions are not properly understood before a decision is made, and inventors facing that can become cynical. Many inventors in corporations also don’t fully grasp how decisions are made and what the review board is looking for. Use the review process as a way to help the inventor understand the process and the criteria for decision making. ideally, you have a written strategy statement that provides guidelines and specifies where innovation is needed, helping the inventors know what to invent. You can also use the review board experience to recognize the contributions of inventors, treat them with respect, and help them feel motivated and connected, even if their first few tries don’t go anywhere.

The culture engendered by your IP review board or committee can be a matter of life or death for innovation in your company. Don’t let it become a death panel. Watch the process through the eyes of the inventors–listen to the voice of the innovator–and make sure you have a healthy and wholesome system that strengthens innovation, not  decapitates it.

In Conquering Innovation Fatigue, we discuss the importance of understanding innovation from the perspective of innovators, and make recommendations for managing and motivating prospective innovators in the corporation, including suggestions for running IP review boards and guidelines on building trust, aligning innovation efforts with corporate needs, and creating cultures of innovation. Sections on corporate innovation are written for both employees seeking to develop innovations and for leaders seeking to encourage it. You must understand and conquer or work around the many innovation fatigue factors that impede innovation in so many corporations.

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Sep
04

Thinking Beyond Patents: Why You Need 360 IA (Holistic Intellectual Assets)

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While our book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue, has a lot to say on innovation and managing innovation, we also have important sections on intellectual asset strategy. An entire chapter, for example, is dedicated to intellectual asset tools for dealing with disruptive innovation.

One of the key concepts we discuss is what we call “360 IA” (three-hundred and sixty degree intellectual assets). The 360 IA approach considers the full scope of intellectual asset tools for protecting your innovation. Patents are just a part of that, and even then, we challenge you to think beyond conventional process and product patents, also considering unconventional approaches that might fall within the realm of “business method patents.” Don’t overlook design patents, either. (See PatentlyO’s discussion of Google’s design patent for its homepage layout.) Make sure that your patents tell a story that lines up with your marketing story. Are the unique selling points of your concept also directly in the focus of your patent strategy? Moving beyond patents, there are creative things that can be done with other forms of intellectual assets such as trademarks. Creative trademark applicants have found protection not just for the appearance of the product per se, but for secondary aspects such as the characteristic water spout of Yamaha’s WaveRunner® personal water craft (U.S. Trademark 74321288).

Defensive publications are one of the most-effective and routinely neglected intellectual assets. I discuss them in the SharpIP.com post, “Are You Neglecting the Power of Defensive Publications?” If you are like most people and most corporations, the answer to that question is probably yes. Millions of dollars of headaches could frequently be avoided or greatly reduced by routinely publishing defensive disclosures aimed at creating prior art regarding minor improvements or seemingly obvious various to your patented technologies, thereby reducing the risk of others creating a picket fence around your own estate that limits your freedom. Potentially disruptive innovations or feared competitive acquisitions, mergers, or new product efforts can also have some of their sting removed through a creative defensive publication program. It’s not easy in typical corporate cultures, and specific actions must be taken to ensure that targeted disclosures are written by capable people and properly screened and tracked. The review phase is especially important, for once you pull the trigger and release the publication to the world, you can’t pull it back and change your mind, as you can with a patent during the months before it is published. My efforts to implement an aggressive defensive publication program at Kimberly-Clark Corporation were an important part of my work there, in spite of having had the title Corporate Patent Strategist. I actually spent a lot of my time working to advance publications and other non-patent forms of intellectual assets.

A 360 IA framework also demands attention to digital intellectual assets. This especially includes domain names, which many great companies tend to overlook, sometimes until it is too late. When you have some proposed names for a new product or service, go ahead and register the domain names ASAP, long before you settle on details and approach launch. They are cheap–unless you let someone else get them first. There are many free digital intellectual assets to consider as well, including YouTube channel names, Gmail accounts, Facebook names, Twitter accounts, Squidoo lenses, etc. Get these early. You don’t need to use them, but make sure you own them for your brands and emerging product concepts.

The great thing about the 360 IA approach is that it helps you proactively craft an intellectual asset estate with more purpose, more agility, and much lower cost than is possible by relying on patents alone. You can create an estate that enhances your marketing strategy. If you are looking to license or sell your technology and IA portfolio to someone else, you can greatly increase the value by presenting a holistic intellectual asset estate that considers many bases and is aligned with your marketing story. It really gives you a chance to shine and be more effective at lower cost.

Think beyond patents. Think 360 degree IA.

(Note:360 IA workshops and analysis are among the services Innovationedge offers.)

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Our Mission

InnovationFatigue.com is the official blog for the new book, Conquering Innovation Fatigue. Here we provide supplementary innovation, news, tips, updates, and, when needed, a correction or two, to keep those who are using the big on the inside edge for innovation success.