There are those who say that focusing and labelling IP strategy is missing the point. They argue that IP is simply part of business strategy, being managed indirectly through R&D, HR, Marketing, and Procurement.
This is wishful thinking. While intellectual property is a vital element of all of the above, it is too often that the C-suite feel ill-prepared and advised to engage in what is often regarded as a specialist subject.
- Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) understand the importance whether R&D output will deliver exclusivity or benefit from FTO (freedom to operate)
- HR are aware that protection of confidential information and trade secrets is a priority; though these issues are largely people and organisational challenges
- Marketing understand the importance of brand, but may know less about trade mark protection and how to enforce it
- IPRs may be a standard clause in T&Cs, but implementation of ownership and licensing structures are likely to be the responsibility of Legal, or some other function.
All of the above overlooks the fact that many companies have a dedicated IP function. The point of highlighting the importance of IP strategy is to recognise that IP has evolved from a specialist subject to something that is relevant to the day-to-day operation of business.
This reality goes way beyond deciding whether to file for another patent, reaching to the heart of corporate value. Investors, lenders, collaborators and insurers are now more attentive to the strength of the underlying corporate assets. In a world where these assets are primarily intangible, it should be no surprise that there is more pressure than ever for corporates to be transparent. While this is not a balance sheet question, it does require Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) and Chief Finance Officers (CFOs) to understand how IP value is being maximised and risk mitigated.
From a pure IP perspective, this is an interesting time. It is only within the past 10 years that IP litigation has proliferated, with IP licensing being recognised as a core business activity. IP rights, and particularly patents, cost $millions to acquire but often have a non-obvious economic return. This rapid period of evolution means that there is increasing pressure to communicate -- and, as IP strategy becomes a boardroom issue, IP has to learn a new language.
There are still places available on 29 June [that's just a fortnight away!], so please register to participate in what promises to be a lively discussion.
For more information about the event, click here.
To register, click here.