Business Innovation and IP: Taking the Long View

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A wise old US patent attorney once said to me that change is the only constant. It did not sit well with me at the time, but he is right. What worked yesterday may not work today and probably won’t work tomorrow.

In response to challenges, innovative people guide their businesses to a future different from the one they expected, reconfiguring as necessary. Innovative businesses evolve, change and pivot. The long view is success; the short view may be survival. As always, it’s a balance of cost and risk, cash flow and vision.

Products, markets, and business strategy change. They have to. And your intellectual property (IP) strategy should change too. What is constant, is the habit of checking. Should you prune this part? Should you be short and sharp? Should you take time and really reflect on another? Should you reconfigure yet another?

If you previously adopted one approach to IP, have you become welded to it? Is the role of your current strategy merely to justify your earlier decision? If you haven’t considered IP at all, should you? If so, when? And how?

Whatever you are working on, IP is always created.

Now is a good time to reflect on your approach to business, and how IP can support your newly crafted business objectives. In going through that analytical process, looking at the IP strategy, you get the benefits of that process, collecting information that adds up to a wider understanding of your current situation and your aims. It highlights your next steps and the best route for the long term. This is the case whether you rely on free or registerable IP rights.

Having an IP strategy which evolves with your company is an important tool in your business tool box. Having an up-to-date IP strategy, an overarching plan for your IP, to match your business requirements will naturally feed into key conversations with customers, distributors, lenders, enterprise agencies, investors, and other partners providing much needed leverage and grounding to your offering, significantly improving the likelihood of success.

IP strategy makes your position stronger. It’s worth thinking about.

Flowing from their overall business and IP strategy, one of our clients received notification of grant from the European Patent Office on a secondary product line less than 2 years from filing (this is fast). They adopted, with our help, a very short, sharp and pragmatic approach to what could be protected and how to get there, avoiding rounds of examination and increasingly expensive renewal fees. This is one example of the power of planning. They are currently in conversation with potential licencees in the Far East.

Another company we came across went for a cheaper, short-term option avoiding the initial costs of a search, potentially storing up problems down the line. We would have advised against this approach early on in the strategic planning process, unless cash was critical. Early information and strategic thinking are key to guiding later steps, potentially avoiding time and expense.

Taking the long view on IP, making sure it works for your evolving business strategy, is what we are passionate about. That, and cake. But that’s another story.

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