A successful and effective company is organized such that the points of the Star Model – Strategy, Structure, Processes, Rewards and People – are aligned and mutually reinforce the business model. As well as using this model to improve the performance of a company, it can be applied when improving management of Intellectual Property (IP).
An IP strategy reflects what kind of player you want to be – defensive or offensive? It answers questions such as what your IP portfolio will look like after a certain period of time. Or why you use IP and for what.
What about the structure? Consider who makes the decisions about your IP. Is it the R&D manager, or maybe the communication manager? Do you need an IP department in-house or will you be outsourcing everything to an IP firm such as ours? Or perhaps a combination would be best for you? If you want to shorten your lead time you might consider acquiring IP from other parties, cross-licensing, or maybe open innovation.
If you, for example, want to grow your patent portfolio quickly, your employees need to have time for innovation. As a further incentive, you may want to reward all invention disclosures – not only the ones leading to a patent application.
Do you have the right people with the right skills and mindset? Do your employees and co-workers have enough knowledge not to jeopardise your IP strategy, and instead act in line with it?
You probably have tollgates checking development goals but have you included IP in the tollgates? Are you keeping things secret that ought to be kept as a trade secret? Have you checked that your agreements do not include clauses in which all development goes to the other party? Those and other reviews should preferably be part of your processes.
Many companies invest far too much time drawing the organization chart and far too little on processes and rewards. In a fast-changing business environment, and in matrix organizations, structure is becoming less important, while processes, rewards and people are becoming more important.
To sum up, when working strategically with IP, it is not enough only to cover the legal aspects or the technology. You must also consider processes, reward systems and people.
Julia Mannesson, European Patent Attorney and Swedish Authorized Patent Attorney