Intellectual Property Road-mapping

As the name implies Intellectual property (IP) is a form of property, an asset, and like any other asset it can be owned, traded, given away, or used for commercial purposes. IP has a value.
IP is an intangible asset, i.e. one without physical form, unlike buildings, equipment, stock or other types of ‘tangible’ assets
IP can be defined as: “a creation of the mind”
In a practical sense IP is created whenever one solves a problem and the solution is one that hasn’t been described before.
 IP should be regarded in the same way as any of the more tangible assets a company owns, i.e. there is a cost to acquiring IP, maintaining it and using it; therefore a company should always be aware of the costs involved in the IP strategy they choose to adopt and also the value and type of benefit the strategy will or could provide. 

There are four main levels of IP strategy; these are summarised below. Within each main level there are a number of sub-levels of sophistication that can be implemented. The summaries below give an indication of range of sub-levels within each category.


 

 

Level 1

No protection other than know-how

The most basic strategy is to recognise the existence of knowledge within an organisation but not to have an active and systematic process to record any IP created or acquired by the organisation. The value to the IP owner is simply that individual staff gain experience from previous work and solutions created and used. A more active form of this level of strategy is to create a system, accessible to all staff, to record solutions and ideas that have been originated from anywhere in an organisation. This provides a higher level of benefit to the company, if used properly, as individuals can search to see if their problem has been encountered previously and if so what solutions were used. A variant on this level of IP strategy is to adopt a policy of open publication whereby novel technical solutions are made public. This retains the higher level of value, i.e. all staff should be able to access such publications, but it introduces an interesting question. That is, does the value of publication, i.e. external appreciation of the skills residing in the organisation, outweigh the possibility that by publishing one gives potential competitors the advantage of accessing the information.

 

 

 

 

 

Level 2

Defensive protection

 

The strategic aim here is to create additional value from an IP portfolio by providing third parties access to certain elements of the IP on commercial terms. Again this level of strategy can be simple and passive, e.g. responding to incoming enquiries and offering standard template licensing terms. Or, at a much higher level, it can be based around a sophisticated out-licensing team with expertise in market evaluation of technology and identifying potential licensees for specific commercial applications in specific territories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Level 3

Value added through out-licensing

The strategic aim here is to create additional value from an IP portfolio by providing third parties access to certain elements of the IP on commercial terms. Again this level of strategy can be simple and passive, e.g. responding to incoming enquiries and offering standard template licensing terms. Or it can be based around a sophisticated out-licensing team with expertise in market evaluation of technology and identifying potential licensees for specific commercial applications in specific territories.

 

 

 

 

Level 4

Value added through business development

This is the highest level of IP strategy and whereas it can combine any and all of the previous activities described in levels 1 to 3 it also includes an element of using IP as an asset to attract third parties to work with the IP owner in, for example, a joint venture in order to combine the skills and IP of both parties to develop new products. Using IP as an asset to encourage third parties to participate in collaborative business development projects can take many forms from participation in government / intra-government projects (e.g. the EC Horizon 2020 programme) to purely commercial business to business interactions. IP assets can also be used to attract third party finance to support new technology initiatives

 


An organisation’s choice of which fundamental strategic IP policy to adopt is one that should centre on the financial implications involved, i.e. what is the investment required and what is the expected return. Putting any process in place will require resources. Typically the higher the level of strategy the greater amount of resource is required.

Whatever approach a company chooses to adopt it should always bear in mind that any IP strategy will fail unless:

  • It is properly integrated into the whole of the organisations business plan
  • The people responsible for implementing the strategy have the right skills and this means knowing how to combine the business skills of financial management, market evaluation and negotiation as well as specialist skills in IP law. These skills can be provided by either an in-house team or an in-house team supported by specialist professionals BUT the overall management of the strategy must be the responsibility of a senior in-house manager.

Visit our IP services page and should you want NuAge Vision to help you create an IP Road-Map or simply evaluate your IP estate for value creation then please contact us: