Is Hasbro Making a Serious Intellectual Property Strategy Mistake by Fighting with Scrabulous?

Hearing the news that Hasbro succeeded today in shutting down Scrabulous for apparent infringement of its intellectual property rights, I found it necessary to weigh in on the debate. For those that don’t know the saga of the dispute between Hasbro and two Indian national brothers who developed the wildly popular Facebook application, it is summarized here. In this ongoing legal dispute, Hasbro, the maker of Scrabble(r) and owner of the intellectual property rights for this iconic game, contends that the online Scrabbulous game on Facebook infringes its copyright and trademark rights. While Hasbro is well within its rights to go after violators of its intellectual property, as an intellectual property strategist (more info here:, it seems to me that Hasbro may be making a huge mistake by taking an aggressive intellectual property enforcement strategy. There are apparently as many as 1/2 million players of Scrabulous on Facebook in a single day. I would venture a guess that there are not this many players of the board game version of Scrabble in a single week. These players of the board game are likely not young–in my experience, the board game version of Scrabble is generally a game for older Continue Reading →

Recent BusinessWeek Article Confirms that Energy Innovation is Rampant: Why These Innovations Should be Patented

This current BusinessWeek article entitled “The Real Question: Should Oil be Cheap?” confirms that innovations directed toward energy savings are rampant in these days of high energy prices. Specifically, the article states that “[h]igh energy prices [] water the flowers of innovation, making investments in alternatives pay off . . . .” As I wrote in this blog previously, along with such innovations comes the opportunity for savvy corporate managers to obtain exclusive rights to these energy usage improvements by developing and executing on patent strategies that prevent their competitors from benefiting from their investments in innovation. Moreover, as I wrote in this blog post, I believe that The Pickens Plan will open the floodgates of patenting in the area of wind energy and turbine technology. I realized after writing these blog posts that some people might find the idea of patenting energy innovations distasteful. Such a perspective might be based on a belief that it is better for society for energy innovations to available for the public to freely use. As such, I thought I would address this potential objection in this post. Private energy innovation takes place within the confidential confines of the firm. Energy innovators will typically Continue Reading →

Innovators: Make Sure Your Company Owns the Fruits of Your Open Innovation Projects

In case there was any doubt, this New York Times article of July 22, 2008 shows that Open Innovation is “hot”. And it is not just consumer products companies that have jumped on the bandwagon: companies such as HP, IBM and Microsoft have reportedly embraced the Open Innovation model. But, did you also know that, if your company is not careful, you could end up sharing patent rights to any inventions resulting from your Open Innovation collaborations? If you are going to play in the Open Innovation game, you must also understand how to prevent collaborators outside your company from owning the fruits of your company’s innovations. This is a very easy issue to address on the front end of the Open Innnovation process and should be standard procedure for any innovation professional. However, as detailed by Greg Daines in his Ideanomics blog, intellectual property strategy is not a subject that is covered in business school. As a result, simple issues such as this will often be overlooked by innovation professionals because they are not recognized, often with disasterous business results. With this blog post, I hope to provide innovation professionals with a bit of learning that could prevent them Continue Reading →

About the IP Asset Maximizer Blog

Readers will note that much of this blog was added in bulk during July 2008. This content was authored by me over the course of several months when I was associated with another organization. Since I have established my own IP Strategy and Consulting firm (more info here:, I look forward to posting new content at this location frequently. Please contact me at if you have any questions or would like to suggest ideas for new blog posts. Tweet This Buzz This Delicious Digg This Reddit Stumble This

It’s All About the Numbers: SuperCrunchers of Patent Data will Gain Competitive Advantage

A recent book entitled Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way to Be Smart (available at presents an intriguing perspective of how forward-thinking companies can use the wealth of data available today to obtain an edge against competitors. The book, written by Ian Ayres, an econometrician and law professor at Yale University, posits essentially that he who crunches the available data will come out ahead in this modern world of massive amounts of data. A detailed review of this book from Newsweek is found here: The “Super Crunchers” premise applies strongly to the world of patents. Indeed, when leading companies such as P &G, GE and others engage in multi-faceted corporate intelligence programs, it cannot be a controversial to contend that those companies that mine and apply the results of data analysis of both their own patent portfolios and those of competitors will obtain valuable information that can be deployed to make better business decisions. Moreover, the application of patent data dovetails nicely with the modern world of innovation and product development, which focuses sustainable and disciplined internal processes rather than the traditional methodologies that favored, in large part, intuition. Part of these processes can and should Continue Reading →

50% of Money Invested in Venture Capital is Lost: The Right Patent Analytics Can Improve These Odds

According to this article by Arlene Jacobius in Pension and Investments Online, 50% of all investment in venture capital is a loss. This article, which is based upon separate research projects by a Chicago Graduate School of Business professor and a former Chief Economist at the SEC, indicates that the actual return on venture capital investment is not much different from the average annualized returns on the smallest NASDAQ stocks. In particular, the return on venture capital investment from 1987 to 2001 in these smallest stocks was 62% as compared to the 59% mean return of venture capital funds. This 59% value certainly does not reflect the investing public’s general perception that venture capital return on investment markedly outweighs what one can obtain on the stock market. And, it is this apparently erroneous assumption of perceived higher return that presumably justifies the risks associated with venture capital investment by the public. Investor perception certainly does not match investment reality for venture capital. Why this disconnect between perception and reality on venture capital returns? Professor Cochrane, the Chicago GSB professor, posits that, in effect, traditional methods of measuring venture capital return do not take into account the fact that ventures that Continue Reading →

Prediction: The Pickens Plan for a Green Energy Infrastructure will Launch a Gold Rush of Patenting Followed by Rampant Patent Litigation

The day after I posted this about patenting green energy innovations: Corporate Managers: Are You Failing to Obtain Maximum Value from Your Energy Savings and Green Innovations by Ignoring Patent Issues?, multi-billionaire oil man T. Boone Pickens announced The Pickens Plan. This plan, if successfully implemented, will constitute a giant step toward reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil by embracing domestically-produced green energy as a significant source of America’s power. To show he is serious about this plan, Mr. Pickens intends to spend $58 million of his own money to publicize it and, if the number of radio commercials I have heard about his idea in the last week is any sign, he is well on his way to spending his advertising budget. In the last week, much has been written, both laudatory and critical, about The Pickens Plan. You can check out some of the articles indexed by Google News here yourself but, to briefly summarize, the plan calls for 1000’s of wind turbines situated in America’s wind belt—an investment of up to $1 trillion. New power lines would be needed to connect the wind farms to users in various parts of the US who are not currently connected Continue Reading →

If You Have to Ask Your Patent Attorney What Your Company’s Patent Strategy Is, You Don’t Have One

Tonight I had dinner with a patent attorney friend of mine who I have known for more than 10 years. For the purposes of this post, let’s call her “Sue.” Sue and I met as young patent attorneys at an intellectual property law firm and grew up together to become partners there. Unlike myself, however, Sue has remained in the law firm environment. These days, she works at a highly prestigious national law firm and has a billable rate of close to $600 an hour. Of course, at this rate, Sue’s clients expect to obtain quality representation and, having been a client of hers when I was an in-house corporate attorney, I know that my friend is a great patent attorney and gives excellent service. As an IP Business Strategist and Consultant, I am no longer engaged on a daily basis in working with clients to obtain patents. In this IP Strategist role, I have developed the view that too many patents are worthless because they are not filed based upon a relevant business case. Put another way, it is my opinion that a patent is worthless unless it supports a current business strategy of the company that is seeking Continue Reading →

Corporate Managers: Are You Failing to Obtain Maximum Value from Your Energy Savings and Green Innovations by Ignoring Patent Issues?

In this world of ever rising energy costs, your company likely has one or more teams of people working to reduce energy consumption and improve the efficiency of your company’s processes. Your company is also probably working diligently on ways to make your operations more “green.” For example, if your company exhibits a large carbon footprint in its manufacturing processes, someone in your organization is likely thinking about ways to reduce your carbon emissions in advance of the possible adoption of government-mandated carbon cap and trade system directed to fight global climate change. However, because the external forces of energy costs and possible governmental regulation are driving these and green innovations inside your company, it is quite likely that these efforts are occurring outside of normal R&D channels. That is, your company’s Manufacturing, Operations and Logistics personnel are likely responsible for developing and testing these potential new innovations, and for bringing them on-line as soon as possible. I have found that when such non-R&D personnel are responsible for corporate innovations, a company often misses out on opportunities to obtain patent protection for such valuable proprietary advantages. This is due to the fact that non-R&D personnel typically do not think of Continue Reading →

Recent Worldwide Conference of Thought-Leaders Demonstrates the Criticality of IP Strategy as a Business Issue

As I have been writing about for the past several months on this blog, business and investment professionals should consider intellectual property (“IP”) to be a critical matter for business, not just lawyers. The correctness of this concept was validated by the occurrence of a recent conference attended by worldwide thought-leaders in IP. This first annual Business IP Congress(tm) occurred in June 2008 in Amsterdam. From the final program contents, it appears that the 2 day conference consisted in large part of an examination of what the role of a Chief Intellectual Property Officer (“CIPO”) is and should be in today’s global IP-centric business environment. The overall context of a thought-leader led discussion of what a CIPO is and should be confirms the emerging modern view that IP is a matter for the C-level business operations of an organization, and should not be relegated to the “backwater” (my words) of the legal department. I was not able to attend the Congress this year, but obtained a high-level overview of the take-aways from Duncan Bucknell at his IP ThinkTank(tm) Blog. A more detailed summary is provided by Joff Wild at the IAM Magazine Blog (IAM Magazine was a co-sponsor of the Continue Reading →