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How Asking One Fundamental Business Question Can Reduce Expense and Improve Business Outcome of Patent Litigation

While a majority of companies consider the cost of obtaining patent protection an essential element of the product and technology development process, few of these same organizations favor the prospect of asserting their patent rights against potential infringers. Moreover, no company relishes the prospect of being a defendant in a patent lawsuit. That most do not readily welcome patent litigation is not surprising given that the average cost of large case (i.e., over $25 MM at stake) patent litigation through trial in 2007 was about $5MM per party in 2007. For disposition of smaller cases, the total amount per party was about $1MM in 2004 dollars. Why does it cost so much for a patent owner to assert her patent rights against an alleged infringer? Put simply, patent litigation at its core is an adversarial undertaking in which lawyers typically define the meaning of a successful outcome. In this context,

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Confessions of a "Recovering Patent Attorney" and Why I Have Joined the Growing Ranks of IP Strategists

I often facetiously refer to myself as a "recovering patent attorney." This somewhat tongue-in-cheek phrase seems appropriate to my present professional state of mind because, after many years of drafting and prosecuting patents for clients of all sizes and degrees of sophistication, in the end, I became disillusioned with the way the patent business traditionally operates. Too often, I found that the patents I worked so hard (and was paid handsomely) to obtain failed to serve my client's business needs. In searching for the source of the disconnect between my efforts, the client's expenditures and the ultimate value of the patent to my client's business, I realized that those responsible for the client's business often did not participate adequately in the patenting process. Instead, at many organizations, inventors and patent attorneys served as the gatekeepers for most patent decisions. While the relevant client business unit typically held some say in patenting

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Do You Know Your Company Needs Strategic In-House IP Counsel, But Think You Can’t Afford It? One Company’s Solution is Hiring Part-Time Counsel

Analysts say that the current economic downturn will likely last at least until early 2010. While this no doubt seems like almost an eternity for the average consumer, for business strategic planning purposes, this date is just around the corner. Indeed, business managers at many companies are likely conducting “short term” strategic planning efforts targeted for introduction in mid-2010. This might account for the recent uptick in job postings for experienced corporate intellectual property attorneys. I see this increase in job opportunities as signifying that smart corporate leaders are realizing that sustainable business success requires companies to not only introduce innovative products and technology offerings, but also that they strategically protect such innovations. As a result, I believe that more companies will seek to hire strategic in-house IP counsel, which is good news for us IP types. Of course, the traditional model of hiring an in-house IP counsel results in

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Companies Adopting Open Innovation Methodologies Must Incorporate Patent Information for Maximum Value Creation

Open Innovation is unquestionably becoming a "hot" area of focus for U.S. companies, especially in the current economic climate in which businesses are more than ever focused on smarter ways of doing business. And, why wouldn't Open Innovation be an intriguing business model when companies can fill their product and technology pipelines for significantly lower cost and with more variability of ideas than typically is possible from their own R&D infrastructures? As a result, more and more business leaders are today viewing Open Innovation as a necessary direction in which to move their company's innovation efforts. A fundamental premise of Open Innovation is that good ideas can come from anywhere, even when a company operates in a very specialized core business. Moreover, innovations that come from outside of one's core business, such as in packaging or transportation, are better left to those who specialize in those areas. Perhaps more controversial

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Investors in the Green Economy: You Could Lose Your Investment in Green Innovators by Failing to Identify the Green Inventors that Came Before Them

With President-Elect Obama's announcement that he will establish an "Apollo Project" to develop a Green Economy, there is no doubt that "the Green Technology train has left the station." Indisputably, investors will start to invest heavily in companies that appear to possess commericializable Green Technology that will enter the marketplace as the US embraces the Green Economy and develops the necessary infrastructure to make this happen. Before staking a claim to one or more of these companies, however, investors should understand whether existing patent rights owned by third parties could undermine the investment potential of even the most promising Green Technology innovators. Anyone seeking to capitalize on the Green Economy and its attendant Green Technology must recognize a fundamental reality of US patent law: in granting a patent, the Patent Office cares only that an invention is useful, novel and nonobvious. Significantly--and this is the rub for investors in Green

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Existing Sources of Investment Information Failed Us: Patent Landscaping Analytics Provide a Necessary Innovation for Investors

As global stock markets continue to struggle, smart investors seeking to capitalize on relatively cheap stock prices are searching for promising investment opportunities. Unfortunately, however, most investors are likely relying on the same sources of investment information that failed to accurately predict the current stock market situation. If the predictive nature of this information has been wrong time and time again, why do investors continue to rely on it? The answer is pretty simple: investment professionals lack knowledge that alternative sources of information exist. One such alternative approach to making investment decisions involves using patent landscaping analytics to assess existing investment in a particular product or technology area. My research demonstrates that properly conducted patent landscaping analytics can effectively allow one to predict the future trajectory of product development by companies. For example, as I have written about here and here, the fact that Google and Yahoo intended to significantly

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If Your Company is Not Capturing IP-Related Tax Savings You are Likely Leaving Significant Money on the Table

I recently heard a group of tax experts spoke about issues related to intellectual property ("IP"), and since then I have been thinking about how my clients could benefit from better incorporating IP into their corporate tax planning and accounting processes. The topic is very complex and, as such, I will leave the details to the experts. (Feel free to contact me for recommendations in this regard.) I believe it is nonetheless valid to make the following statement: if your tax experts do not include IP issues in their tax planning and accounting processes, your company is likely leaving considerable money on the table. As these experts discussed IP-related tax issues, it became apparent to me how important IP asset management should be to corporate tax planning and accounting efforts. However, my experience demonstrates that few corporate managers are aware that such savings are possible. Even if they know about this

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You Paid WHAT for that Patent?! or How the Choice of Patent Law Services at Many Companies is Like the Vice Presidential Wardrobe Selection Process

The recent hullabaloo regarding Sarah Palin's "gold plated" wardrobe from Saks and Neiman Marcus got me thinking about how many companies select patent law firms. This may seem like a non-sequitur, but bear with me. . . Those responsible for dressing Gov. Palin apparently believed that the large expenditures at Saks and Neiman Marcus automatically translated into value for the Republican ticket by allowing her to be viewed as more "Vice Presidential" than she would otherwise been considered. Notwithstanding the high cost of her new wardrobe, as reported in the New York Times, her overall "look" remains the same as when she campaigned for and served as Governor of Alaska: business-appropriate jackets, feminine skirts and high heels. The response to this wardrobe makeover by a major fashion commentator: "Honey, I could have dressed you for a lot less than that." From this comment, as well as the continuing backlash

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Taking a Disciplined Approach to Protecting Innovation Investment Allows You to Reduce Legal Spends While Still Obtaining Necessary Patent Rights

This week, I am intrigued by what appears to be a recent convergence of reporting and blogging about the state of innovation in the US. There is an obvious concern by those who keep track of such matters that, in the current economic climate, government and business will "take a hatchet" to R & D and innovation budgets in an attempt to reduce overall costs. Such cutting is, of course, a rational short term solution to address today's problems. Government and corporate leaders taking the long view will nonetheless understand that, when it comes to R & D and innovation spending, it is much better to apply the proverbial "scapel" to one's budget. Moreover, as discussed by Tom Donahue (President and Chairman of the US Chamber of Commerce) recently on The Huffington Post (h/t Front End of Innovation), intellectual property protection is a critical component of successful

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CEO’s and Corporate Managers: Develop an Engaged Knowledge of Your Company’s Intellectual Assets to Stop Leaving Corporate Asset Value on the Table

More than 70 % of corporate value today lies in the form of intangible assets, much of which are in the form of patents, copyrights and trademarks. Notwithstanding this fact, many otherwise sophisticated CEO's and corporate managers essentially leave a significant portion of firm value on the table by failing to develop and execute on a business strategy directed to capturing and maximizing this class of assets. Of course, few organizations would admit that management fails to fully realize the asset that forms the bulk of today's corporate value. Many managers also may not believe they have the requisite knowlede to determine whether their company's intellectual assets are being properly exploited. Fortunately, it can be fairly easy to discern whether a company's management expends the effort necessary to capture and maximize its intellectual assets. Put simply, if an organization's top business leadership does not possess an engaged knowledge of their company's

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