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.
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.
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