We align your corporate objectives with your R&D and IP Plans through a proven six-step process
Step 1 : Check for company's key business and IP need
Step 2 : Check for alignment of company's R&D and IP postures
Step 3 : Determine the company's business game environment
Step 4 : Check for alignment of company's IP versus its business game environment
Step 5 : Determine the IP portfolio's position on the hype cycle
Step 6 : Determine Competitor and Supplier
At Intellectual Assets, Inc. our first step in creating an effective business for our clients is to check our client’s and their competitor’s IP using a careful five step process developed and tested over the last ten years for its ability to provide insightful strategy decisions and actions. Our goal is to help our clients identify solid opportunities, and avoid blind alleys, early in the development process. We organize our client’s IP processes and patent portfolios to avoid IP surprises, reduce portfolio costs, and uncover niche licensing opportunities quickly. Our Principals use their client-specific experience to target merger and acquisition opportunities with precision and reduced risk. They provide compelling insights in a report format where our clients can actually see both the Big Picture and have specific measurable IP actions to take.
Utilizing our services helps our clients accelerate their pivotal decision-making and reduce their infringement risk. Intellectual Asset, Inc.’s proprietary methodology helps our clients align their R&D and IP portfolio with their business strategy, allowing them to protect their worldwide revenue and profit streams. We offer a timely and comprehensive external perspective on what to buy and what to make by utilizing our network of professionals and unique software tools.
Our Principals help our clients achieve faster results by tapping into best practices and institutionalizing our clients’ critical know-how. Our clients find that licensing decisions and negotiations can occur up to twice as fast using our processes, by tapping into our licensing expertise and knowledge of advanced industry software. At Intellectual Assets, Inc. our Principals guide our clients to create differentiated products with technology and business-process patent protection. We provide insight into when and how to enforce our clients’ market advantages against infringing companies, reduce costs through higher win rate on patent litigation and settlements, and expand our clients’ technology advantages through patent protection. Intellectual Assets, Inc. helps our clients turn the intellectual assets they have into a viable revenue stream.
One of the key competencies that our Principals at Intellectual Assets, Inc. bring to the table is our ability to work with our clients to eliminate their margin and share erosion. We use our sophisticated review process to help identify and cover competitors’ “copy-cat” products for up to four years after our clients file their first US patent application on a new technology. Additionally, we help identify opportunities for our clients to capture new markets and new patent-protected revenue streams by advising them on specific patenting actions that create, in advance of need, what will eventually become the controlling industry “choke points”.
An Intellectual Property strategy must first and foremost be integrated / aligned with the Business Strategy. This requires expert review to make certain there are no gaps or inconsistencies between a written Strategic IP Plan and the organization’s Business Vision, Mission, Values, Objectives, and Strategies.
Environmental Factors must be checked to likewise make certain that there no inconsistencies or threats to what the company would like to accomplish. An example would be to under-protect a new breakthrough technology in a nascent market, or investing in multiple generations of patent fences for incremental products in a mature or declining market. Typical checks for environmental factors include:
Once high level internal and external consistencies check-out and any gaps are addressed, the next step is to clearly understand the company’s priority for the Five Traditional Business Needs it can expect to experience in the next annual planning cycle. In addition to checking the external environment, the current IP portfolio must also be assessed against the three main IP value drivers. These are:
An IP Strategic Plan Sets Out A Strategic Plan For Each Business Area That:
An IP Strategic Plan For Any Business Area Requires Lots Of Preparation
Companies have a hierarchy of business needs. If the lower level needs are satisfied by good business leadership and management, higher levels of performance can be tackled. Some companies find themselves hit with lawsuits which consume senior manager’s attention. Other companies are competing in business environments with stable, well-managed competitors that act with integrity by respecting one-another’s IP rights. These companies can move to higher levels of IP usage for In- and Out-Licensing activities. Double checking that there is an consistency between the Business Environment, Business Needs, and IP Strategy Needs is the first checkpoint in developing an IP Strategy.
A company’s R&D and IP Postures must be aligned if full value from R&D activities is to be captured by the corporation. If R&D conducts and succeeds with break-through innovation, but fails to build out a complete set of patent fences to protect exploitation by fast-following companies, the initial market advantage of the new product’s technology will quickly be eroded in the market. Likewise, if a company is conducting incremental R&D in a mature market, and files for many patents around the world, it is likely spending precious money to obtain IP protection on a product that few other competitors would copy even if IP protection were lacking.
To check for the alignment of R&D and IP Postures, a simple marketing graphic can be modified as shown in the Figure. Plotted is the relative market share that a company has vis-a-vis its largest other competitor versus the market growth rate of the business. The reason this graphic is so powerful is it speaks to the type of clout that a company has in the marketplace and points out in very specific terms to R&D and IP executives the type of project and IP protection that they have to invest in.
In this example Product Line #1 has a dominant market share, and to sustain their customers they only need to invest in next-generation products protected with broad, but not necessarily deep IP filings. In contrast, Product Line #2 is an attempt by the company to enter into a new business area that they currently have no position in. To succeed here against other competitors, the company must penetrate the market with a maverick or breakthrough product by R&D. If successful, such a new “dominant design” platform must be protected from other entities by a deep, broad, “choke-point” capable IP portfolio.
Looking critically at R&D product categories and IP portfolios in terms of breakthrough, next-generation and incremental positions clearly shows where mistakes are being made in matching R&D projects to business needs and IP coverage.
The first action to take in Step 3 is to correctly identify the Company’s Business Game Environment. R&D game theory was developed as part of the Industrial Research Institute’s Research on Research subcommittee on innovation. That group was supported by Dr. Roger Miller at the Polytechnic University of Montréal. His team surveyed over 700 companies to find patterns in the way their innovative processes were related. After studying how these companies went about innovation the subcommittee and Roger’s team were able to show that there were eleven types of R&D methods utilized.
The eleven methods (game types) of R&D were related to industry sectors that compete in similar environments and typically focus their innovation methods on one class of innovation. The Figure is an adaptation of the original grid.
The key elements of this grid are in the segmentations along the two axes. The columns relate to the time it takes to create a working prototype of the new product or service from a technical standpoint. Where it takes a long time to develop a prototype, R&D is resourced, managed and leveraged for the scientific insight it is creating. This is often includes the use of a government laboratory or university partner. On the other end of this scale, where it takes a shorter time to create prototypes, because they exist in other industries or are straight-forward from a science and engineering standpoint to conceive, R&D is managed and leveraged more like typical technical service organizations.
For the rows of this matrix, the segmentation is based on the factors that affect time to market once a prototype has been created. These vary from long timeframes, because of government requirements for lengthy approval processes, to shorter times wherein it is just a matter of being sure the product prototype is refined to be something a customer quickly recognizes as desirable. Again, R&D is resourced, managed and leveraged differently depending on what timescale is needed. For industries that require government approval, R&D must contain individuals familiar with submitting the required documentation and test results. For industries that are driven by specification standards, R&D must have individuals capable of advocating their solution as the most appropriate. The R&D funding must be consistent with these various activities and timelines for bringing products to market.
What the Industrial Research Institute’s subcommittee on innovation found was that personnel backgrounds, training, aptitudes, and reward schemes varied by R&D game. Likewise the subcommittee also found that R&D strategic planning, project selection, project management, and metrics also varied consistent with the R&D game. For IP Strategic Planning purposes, it is necessary to identify which R&D Game Type your company is engaged in.
The second action to take in Step 3b is to align a Company’s IP portfolio to the Business Game Environment the Company participates in. This is done because over a hundred client companies were studied with respect to their new product development efforts, outcomes and IP licensing activities.
The variation in best practices of IP management and licensing success was tabulated on the same segmentation axes as Business Game Environments, and a set of ideal IP strategies and environments for various industry sectors emerged. The Figure highlights for three of the eleven R&D game types some attributes of an IP landscape best suited for that specific R&D game type.
Environments unique to the use and licensing of IP were related to the kind of business and innovation environment that existed in each industry. The initial concepts were further tested with R&D and IP managers enrolled in Caltech’s Industrial Relations Center course on “Intellectual Property for Technology and Business Development”. Combining IP portfolio and licensing strategy concepts with the R&D Game Theory environments provided sound guidance to management teams operating in different industry segments.
The next concept an executive needs to understand is that an intellectual property strategy also has a time dependency. This can best be understood via the S-curve most executives became familiar with in business school. This S-curve was a useful tool to convey the best time during a business cycle to invest in the creation of new businesses, grow those businesses, and extract value from mature businesses.
The management techniques appropriate for each portion of the S-curve varied in conjunction with these different objectives. Creation, management, and exploitation of intellectual property also vary along the same curve. However, when it comes to intellectual property management, it is best to extrapolate from the traditional business curve and add two key concepts: The “chasm” made popular by Geoffrey Moore and the “hype cycle” developed by Gartner.
By combining the three different curves, executives are provided with the best guidance on when to create, buy, license and litigate intellectual property. As an executive looks at the business environment and starts to understand which technologies a competitor may choose to bring forward, the hype cycle helps to reveal the right time to invest in a developing technology.
Early in the cycle, patenting activity rises as adoption builds. At this point, the price of intellectual property goes above market expectations. As the market begins to grow the technology usually runs into a few hurdles, including Geoffrey Moore’s chasm. It’s at the trough of the hype cycle that advantageous licensing can be accomplished by a corporation. If the company was not deploying its own technology (developed either internally or via partnership) early in the cycle, licensing technology in the trough is a good business decision for a company with a solid fast-follower strategy.
Needless to say, it’s important not to wait too long to engage in licensing transactions because, as the technology starts to emerge on the far side of the chasm, market size builds, as does the market capitalization of participating startup companies. It is at this point a company may be locked out or required to pay dearly for access to a key technology needed to secure an advantaged market position. It’s also noteworthy that, as companies start to pull out of the hype cycle, litigation of intellectual property also occurs. A smart executive will make sure that the intellectual property that was acquired early on has appropriate patent fences built around a strong core position.
Using the tools described in the New Business Development Evaluation and Technology Analysis section of this website the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats surrounding the Company’s patent portfolio are captured.
These steps include gaining an understanding of other entities’ level of effort and direction via IP landscapes and specific technology investments. The overview of this process is shown in the top figure. Such insight suggests how much the Company must invest in R&D and IP to create a sustainable advantaged position versus competition.
The steps also include specific portfolio comparisons between the Company’s patent portfolio and the portfolios of major business competitors. An example of the level of detail required to gain such insight is shown in the bottom figure. This diagram shows the specific strength or weakness of each IP element in providing for the Business Needs of the Company (see IAM Design of this website for details on this approach).
The background work described is Steps 1 to 5 is typically collected in PowerPoint documents that are shared and upgraded with Company stakeholders. However, to be useful for Program and Project Manager use, this information is best distilled into a short Word document. Such a document outlines precisely the IP Strategy in a way that the Project and Program Managers know what specific IP forms of IP are to be created or purchased, filled out with patent fences or bulk filings, and litigated or pooled.
The section headings of the IP Strategy Document for each business line are typically:
Defines that the Intellectual Property Strategic Plan for the Company’s Business Area sets out a strategic plan for the Company’s Business Area. It reviews strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities; presents a series of statements relating to the Company’s Group vision, mission, values and objectives; and sets out its proposed Business Area strategies and goals.
A Table lists the top two to five key Business Unit strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities related to innovation and use of IP.
The vision for the Company’s Business Area in five years’ time is outlined in three to five bullet points.
The central purpose and role of the Company’s Business Area in fulfilling the Company’s overall strategy is defined in three to five bullet points.
The Top two to five values that define the relationships with customers, suppliers, environment and community are stated along with those that relate to innovation and diligence amongst staff.
Two to five longer term business objectives of the Company’s IP Portfolios are summarized in bullet points.
Critical IP strategies to be pursued by the Company’s Business Unit are listed in the order of their priority given the current and projected IP environment.
This may be different from the Maslow based priority as a result of the business environment. For example, a company that operates in a government regulated environment might have its IP priorities in order of importance as:
Elements under each area include naming honorable and fast-following competition and IP strategy vis-à-vis each, geographic distribution of IP creation and management, alignment of the Business Unit IP Portfolio with the correct R&D and IP Posture, as well as R&D and IP Game Recommendations.
A Table showing the most important strength, weakness, threat and opportunity for the Business Area versus each of the five Business Uses of IP.
A listing of two to six top organizational and program/project requirements for each of the five Business Uses of IP. These are very specific, have metrics, and are audited for use in performance reviews / compliance reporting.
At Intellectual Assets, Inc. we are focused on creating an effective and efficient IP Strategic Plan for our clients. To reach this goal, IAI performs the work in an iterative and stepwise process. IAI works closely with the Company to review the results of each step in the process and adjusts the work to be completed in the subsequent stages accordingly. This involves discussions with the Company to determine the current Company business strategy, future strategic direction, assessment of competitive advantage and strategic objectives. The process is typically done in five stages of work.
This stage is focused on an introduction of intellectual asset management objectives, strategies, tactics and processes relevant to the Company. Workshops include a high-level review of IP assets across business lines, developed from a landscape analysis of the Company’s patent, copyright, trademark and trade secrets portfolios.
This stage of the project involves a review, an audit, and an inventory of existing Company IP assets, procedures and process plans. The objective is to identify the Company’s key, differentiable know-how in the form of design, development, production and distribution processes relating to the Company’s products, services and IP processes.
The focus of this Stage is to define the Company’s IP Assets strategy followed by the development and use of systems, procedures and metrics to implement the defined strategy. It includes setting up systems, measures, training and awareness programs to both capture IP being generated and manage the resulting IP to generate maximum value for the Company compatible with the Company’s strategic plans.
After review with the Company, a deployment strategy is devised. This includes training programs given to existing staff, training of trainers for future staff, and awareness seminars for management and key scientists.
The processes and systems put in place are monitored and the business output and outcome metrics tracked with the same statistical methodology used to build efficient plant operations. IAI recommends to the Company the most time and cost effective method for monitoring and upgrading deployed processes.
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