Do Startups Need Patents? Rigorous Study Presents Real Data on Startup Company Patenting Behavior

As an IP Strategy advisor, I am often asked by the leadership of startup companies what the return on investment is from patenting.  While I can confidently provide recommendations as an expert, my opinions are anecdotal based on my almost 20 years experience as an IP professional.  Certainly, I have advised a number of startup companies over the years for which comprehensive patent coverage was critical to financial and market success.  On the other hand, I have advised a much larger number of startup companies over the years where patenting made little difference to their fortunes. The subjective nature of IP advice holds for other patent professionals.  Our respective years of experience results in tacit knowledge that becomes “expertise.”   This expertise guides clients to us for advice and allows them to trust in our counsel.   Missing from my knowledge base–as well as that of my IP attorney peers–have been data-driven assessments of whether, when and to what extent patents really matter to start up success. Similarly, startup companies are typically inundated with the advice of peers, mentors and investors about whether patenting is recommended in a particular business situation.  Such non-specialist expertise is even more fraught with subjectivity Continue Reading →

Is Traction the New IP for Startups? Maybe Not for Yours.

“Traction is the new IP.”  This emerging mantra results in many startup CEOs eschewing the traditional path of patent and other forms of IP protection.  While I am aware of no rigorous studies conducted to date, anecdotal information indicates that startup entrepreneurs are increasingly saying no to patents, and likely to other forms of IP.  Instead, these entrepreneurs first seek to validate their business models and then follow business plans focused on generating recurring revenue, often avoiding altogether the step of protecting their business idea or product with IP.  From my own interactions with startup CEO’s, I can confirm that the pendulum has swung very far to the “IP is worthless” side of things.  But, is this emerging conventional wisdom actually correct? There is no doubt that over the years far too many startup company resources have been spent on patents and other forms of IP protection (many of which were paid to me in my former life as a patent attorney).  Moreover, if we were to track the number of patents held by successful startups and those held by failed startups,  a poor correlation would certainly exist between successful exits and the presence of IP protection.  An adherent to Continue Reading →

Lean Startup Methodology: How Patenting Decisions Fit into this New Business Framework

  One of the first questions start up entrepreneurs usually ask sounds something like this:  “Is it worth the effort and expense to get a patent on this business idea?”  In countless conversations with clients in my years as a patent attorney, I could usually articulate multiple reasons why the person seeking to to start a new business venture unequivocally needed to file a patent application as soon as possible.  Moreover, I could recite a litany of ills that could follow from failing to follow my advice.   Following this conversation, I could typically expect a fat check from the client, whereupon I would dutifully draft strong patent on the subject invention.  It was a nice living. These days, I work as a startup technology company CEO and look at patents much differently than I did in the past:  as a consumer of patent services myself, I now examine patenting issues from the vantage point of an entrepreneur, not as a lawyer whose business model centers on patents.  My viewpoint has been further honed in the last year as I have become a practitioner of the Lean Startup Methodology, a startup business framework that, in short, states that if an Continue Reading →

New Study Reinforces Value of Patents in Venture Capital Investment

Regular readers of the IP Asset Maximizer Blog will know that I am a strong advocate of the use of IP analytics by venture capital investors, as well as others.  Clearly, VC’s need better ways to gauge the appropriateness of an investment when more than 50% of venture investment is a loss. My point of view is based on personal experience with various clients, as well as external review of a few investments that I thought signaled that a review of the IP landscape should have been conducted prior to completing the deal.  So, I was glad to see my opinions backed up by real data.  Specifically, my friends at IP Vision, a patent landscaping and data company originally out of MIT, conducted an extensive study of 9,000 venture backed firms.  The study was done with investors, corporate executives and members of the faculty at MIT Sloan School of Management. Joff Wild discusses provides an overview of the results on his IAM Magazine blog.  (The original article is behind a pay wall at IAM Magazine, but I will post a link to it when it available for review in the future.)  What I find interesting, is that the baseline for Continue Reading →

IP Strategies for High Growth Companies

As an IP Business Strategist, I frequently speak to CEOs of high growth/start-up companies. I have prepared this short deck to walk them through the basics of how IP Strategy can be implemented in their organizations, and where in their organizations their intangible assets might reside. IP Strategy Basics for High Growth Companies View more presentations from The Hutter Group: IP Business Strategy. Tweet This Buzz This Delicious Digg This Reddit Stumble This

Start-up Entrepreneurs & CEO’s: If Your Goal is Investment or Acquisition, You are Probably Patenting the Wrong Things

Do you treat your patents as a fence or a tollbooth? If you wish for your start-up technology company to obtain investment from or acquisition by a bigger player, you had better understand the difference. Most start-up technology company entrepreneurs and CEO’s understand that patents can be key to establishing the value of a new business idea. Typically, entrepreneurs and CEO’s such as yourself will engage patent attorneys to build an IP portfolio that protects the start-up’s technology and products to the fullest extent possible. The motivation for this effort and expense is, of course, to to protect your start-up’s idea from use by others. As management of a start-up you may be seeking to build an ongoing business around the patented technology, but often the goal of building a solid patent portfolio is to make your business an attractive target for investment or acquisition by a larger company. I believe that such an inwardly focused patenting strategy is a misguided approach for companies that wish to obtain investment from or be acquired by larger companies. Why do I think this? Let me use a simple analogy. Tweet This Buzz This Delicious Digg This Reddit Stumble This

Entrepreneurs: Ask 2 Simple Questions to Determine Whether IP Strategy is Critical to Your New Business Venture

Intellectual property (“IP”) is often a subject that is “out of sight, out of mind” for entrepreneurs who are launching new business ventures. And, why shouldn’t it be: business schools rarely teach much about law in general, let alone about the highly specialized world of IP law. Since non-business school trained entrepreneurs generally take their cues from the methods of their colleagues, it follows that a significant majority of entrepreneurs likely do not consider IP to comprise a necessary step when they are formulating their business plans. My conversations with entrepreneurs from all backgrounds over the years bears this out. When IP does form a fundamental basis of an entrepreneur’s new venture, it is likely because scientific or technical subject matter forms the basis of the business. In this context, it makes sense that the scientific or technical core of the business model must be protected by seeking patent coverage. While patents are significant in this context, in my opinion, this is a far too narrow view of when a new entrepreneurial concept requires IP protection, however. Put simply, proper formulation of IP strategy requires an entrepreneur to determine whether she should obtain one or more patents. Rather, prior to Continue Reading →

Technology Start-up Entrepreneurs and CEO’s: If Your Goal is Investment or Acquisition by a Big Company, You are Probably Patenting the Wrong Things

Do you treat your patents as a fence or a tollbooth? If you wish for your start-up technology company to obtain investment from or acquisition by a bigger player, you had better understand the difference. Most start-up technology company entrepreneurs and CEO’s understand that patents can be key to establishing the value of a new business idea. Typically, entrepreneurs and CEO’s such as yourself will engage patent attorneys to build an IP portfolio that protects the start-up’s technology and products to the fullest extent possible. The motivation for this effort and expense is, of course, to to protect your start-up’s idea from use by others. As management of a start-up you may be seeking to build an ongoing business around the patented technology, but often the goal of building a solid patent portfolio is to make your business an attractive target for investment or acquisition by a larger company. As an intellectual property and business strategist (more info here: http://www.jackiehutter.com/), I believe that such an inwardly focused patenting strategy is a misguided approach for companies that wish to obtain investment from or be acquired by larger companies. Why do I think this? Let me use a simple analogy. Tweet This Continue Reading →