Few things infuriate me more than supposed experts who make statements along the lines of "patents are critical to innovation." I have avoided stating my views widely in this forum because I didn't want to get into a contest of one upmanship with my patent lawyer peers. However, in the last couple of weeks, several pieces of information have hit my radar screen that make this seem like the right time to go public with my views. Let my position be very clear: we create a false dichotomy when saying "innovation is not possible without patents." The issue is much more complex and nuanced than this: in a particular instance, patents may be critical to innovation, but they might also be only slightly important or--likely in the majority of situations--they might be wholly irrelevant to innovation. (I talk more about this in this recent interview in Innovation Management
Last week, I did what I these days rarely ever do: live in the world of corporate and law firm IP lawyers. I traveled to Minneapolis to speak at the Midwest IP Institute and, while there, I was treated to a baseball game in a luxury box, a high end hotel room with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a fabulous steak dinner and various other fringe benefits that I have not seen recently. It was clear to me that even in these trying economic times when law firms have folded and merged and lawyers have been laid off in droves from all sorts of law firms, many lawyers are still living the high life. I must say, I was somewhat surprised, because I thought business people were getting smarter about how they spent their money these days and, as a result, would not be impressed with fancy law offices and "bling"
This week, I am speaking at the Midwest IP Institute. I will be participating in a "fire side chat" with my good friend, Edna Vassilovski of Stoel, Rives LLP. Our session is entitled "How Patent Prosecutors and In-House Counsel Can Provide Work Product Better Aligned with Client's Business Needs." Specific topics we will discuss include:
- How clients’ views of IP and intangible assets are changing and ways both inside and outside counsel can stay relevant to clients today;
- What you can do to help clients obtain meaningful patents at reduced cost;
- How to really understand clients’ business goals and how to help make those happen; and
- How to help clients monetize their patents
Open Innovation is risky. It's like letting a stranger in your house to see what valuables are there for the taking, and letting them keep the key to your secrets even after you finish working with them. For some, this perception of risk is enough to stop any attempts of Open Innovation in its tracks. Other corporations respond to the risk by "lawyering up," which, at a minimum, markedly increases the costs of proceeding or, at worst, causes the relationship to break down before any collaboration can occur. And I, as IP counsel to a number of corporations in my prior life, must admit to being responsible for shutting down Open Innovation due to my role as IP risk the person responsible for mitigating my clients' IP risk. After leaving the Friendly Confines of defined roles and responsibilities set out in my corporate and law firm life where it was clear
One of the biggest complaints I get from corporate innovation and product development professionals is how risk averse their lawyers tend to be about dealing with intellectual property ("IP") issues. It doesn't matter whether these business people are talking about their outside or in-house lawyers, either. To a person, the complaint generally tracks the contention that their IP lawyers "don't get what they do" and, as a result, make it more difficult for them to meet the objective of adequately filling their product pipelines and introducing innovative new products that will keep the lights on at their corporations. I have written and spoken about this topic on several occasions. But, recently, I have been thinking a lot about the issue of risk aversion and IP lawyers for a couple of reasons. First, I am co-leading a workshop at the 2nd Annual Open Innovation Summit next week in Chicago with my good
As my consulting practice becomes ever more busy, blogging must be relegated to times when client work is not pressing--that ever-elusive free time. But now that Summer is here, free time has been hard to come by--it's hard to write when at the pool with the kids or driving to Grandma's house--but I haven't been totally giving up my outreach. I recently participated in 2 radio interviews where I discussed the value of IP Strategy for entrepreneurs and inventors. Here I was on the 40 Year Old Business Virgin Radio Show with Dave Savage, Leader and President of The Inventors Association of Georgia and a person named Mohamed who has a really cool entrepreneurial story (sorry I didn't get his last name). The hosts of the show, Kile Lewis and Ted Jenkin, are irreverent business advisors, and you should enjoy the show. (I appear in the first half).
I have been spending time in Northeastern Indiana--the land of my roots--to introduce my children to their aunts, uncles and many, many cousins. Catching up with extended family has made it difficult to formulate a post in the past couple of weeks, but I have a few moments this morning and wanted to capture a thought that has been rattling around in my head since I arrived here. Anyone who has spent time in this part of the U.S. will be familiar with the presence of the Amish as part of the cultural landscape. My children, as city kids, are fascinated whenever they see a carriage with families traveling along the side of the roads. However, I invariably consider about how stifling I would find it to not be able to interact with the outside world in the way that is familiar to me. In short, I wonder what it
My friend Mary Adams of the Smarter Companies blog posted a brief article about Atul Gawande's recent book The Checklist Manifesto. I agree with Mary that checklists can be a powerful way to improve the work product quality of experts, and wanted to expand on her discussion as they relate to intellectual property, in particular patents. Also, I think that corporate managers who rely on the expertise of their company's patent lawyers can gain insights into the quality of their team's work product, even when they do not themselves seemingly hold the requisite skills to make such assessments just by starting a conversation about checklists. MY CHECKLIST STORY I read Dr. Gawande's original New Yorker article that formed the basis for the book at the same time I a good friend of mine--with whom I practiced law at a prestigious IP boutique--lost her corporate job in about December 2007.
(Ed. Note: A family emergency has been keeping me away from the office. The good news is that I have been catching up on my RSS feeds and reading some really interesting stuff, albeit a bit late. One of these interesting reads is a David Brooks piece dealing with corporate intangible assets. Since this was published Christmas week, others may have missed it, too. And, when pundits pick up on what you have been talking about for years, I means that the public is finally "getting" it!) David Brooks’ Op-Ed in the December 22, 2009 New York Times raises some interesting points about our new intangible economy. In this piece, entitled “The Protocol Economy,” Brooks recognizes that we have moved from an economy that makes “stuff” –that is, a physical goods economy—to one that deals in “protocols.” (I think it would be more appropriate to call our evolving intangible
(Editorial Note: I have gotten some great feedback from my recent post 9 Out of 10 Patents are Worthless: Here's Why and How to Keep it Happening from You (Part 1 of 4). I am working on the next installment, so be on the look out for more of my thoughts on this meaningful topic.) Readers of the IP Asset Maximizer Blog will probably enjoy this very smart post from Ian McClure of IP P®OSPE©TIVE entitled "A New Legal Landscape for IP: Ex Ante will Join Ex Post Services". (While the post says some very flattering things about me, this is not why I am recommending it: the IP P®OSPE©TIVE blog is consistently good, and Ian "gets" IP business issues.) In this post, Ian frames IP Strategy in terms of "ex post" and "ex ante"--that is, instead of dealing with IP issues after it exists (i.e., ex