December 23, 2016 | Written by: sue.hallen
Categorized: Invention and Innovation | IP Strategy
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How does your company decide where to invest in R&D and M&A to ensure survival and growth?
Most companies focus on current and near-term products and technologies. But with rapidly changing technologies, how can you be positive your pipeline is real, and it supports the direction for future growth? How will you accommodate the immersion Cognitive, Internet of Things and Cloud based services into your product or service while protecting your investment?
Innovation and protecting your ideas can help your company keep pace and grow, but many companies need help with invention and intellectual property processes. Some issues we fight continually and hear from nearly all our clients include:
– Budget constraints for innovation and patent filings
– Inventor time and focus
– Legal resources availability
– Is the idea too good to pass up?
– Is this a future revenue stream? How much will it cost?
– How does the idea fit with your mission and current market? Future directions?
– Why do you still need patents in an era of open source, open innovation, Cloud, Cognitive?
– Do you have the right skill sets for newer technologies or new market areas?
Innovation will help your company survive, but top-notch IP processes are needed to create growth. Many innovative ideas used to be incubated as “skunk works” or “pet projects”. With limited resources and funding, how do you foster innovation, bring new ideas to light and invest in the ones that can succeed? No one can predict the future with 100% accuracy.
Creating and maintaining patents can be expensive. You need a strategy to understand how you will leverage the patents you are creating. Whether your strategy is purely defensive freedom of action or commercialization or something in between, thinking early about patent focus areas is very beneficial. Understanding trade-offs among patents, trade secrets, defensive publications and other forms of IP protection are critical to the evaluation process.
An IP Management leading practice requires strong, cross-functional invention review boards. However, if you are moving into new domains, incorporating potential future uses and markets for your invention will help depict a more holistic picture for evaluators. This enables decisions about new ideas to consider both technical and business aspects. And sometimes, a leap of faith is in order when you cannot see a fully vetted picture of the future.
It is important to think not just about what technology a company might implement, but also the direction technology is heading. For example, when IBM applied for a patent in 1996 (patent # 6,137,468 granted in 2000) entitled “method and apparatus for altering a display in response to changes in attitude relative to a plane”, smart phones did not exist. This patent’s claims largely addressed a display device (any display device) on which the user interface flips to a new orientation as the device is moved. Smart phones did not exist at the time and IBM has never been in the smart phone business, but evaluators recognized the future potential value of this invention and pursued patent protection that resulted in cross licenses with smartphone manufacturers, generating IP Income for IBM.
What will be your next idea solving a problem yet to be defined?
The world is moving fast. The amount of information available is astronomical and growing. Leveraging new Cognitive systems like IBM Watson to help you translate this information into knowledge is becoming more and more pivotal each day.
How can we help you? The IBM IP Management Solutions team combines deep expertise in IP with strong consulting skills to help you define and implement all phases of IP management. And our IBM Watson team has the Cognitive solutions you need to address your challenges. If you are planning to attend CES 2017, and would like to speak in depth about our IP offerings, you can find me at IBM’s Booth located at the Venetian.
Visit ibm.com/ibm/licensing/ip_management.html or ibm.com/electronics to explore more.