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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

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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: http://www.jackiehutter.com/), 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

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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

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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 http://www.amazon.com/Super-Crunchers-Thinking-Numbers-Smart/dp/0553805401) 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: http://www.newsweek.com/id/40860. 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

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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

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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

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Using IP Strategy to Reduce the Strategic Uncertainty of Business Decisions

In my wanderings through the Internet, I recently came across a new-to-me management concept. This concept, which generally addresses the management of the risk of strategic decisions, directs C-level corporate decision-makers to embrace as a primary responsibility the management of uncertainty in order to enable the long-term success of their companies. The concept, developed by Michael Raynor of Deloitte Research, is briefly discussed in this article entitled "What is Corporate Strategy, Really" (available here: http://www.iveybusinessjournal.com/article.asp?intArticle_id=722) and in more detail in a book entitled The Strategy Paradox (more info here: http://www.amazon.com/Strategy-Paradox-committing-success-failure/dp/0385516223 ). In the article, Mr. Raynor effectively asserts that traditional models of corporate strategy are flawed because they are inherently based on a supposed understanding of future events. Instead of embracing the fallacy that they are able to predict the future, business leaders should acknowledge and accept that a significant aspect of corporate decision making is based upon planning

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