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Who Cares if the Patent System is Broken? Making Lemonade from the Patent Office’s Lemons

Is the patent system broken? I am now an IP Strategist and owner of a patent strategy and consulting company, however, I spent many years in the trenches working to prepare and file U.S. and foreign patent applications for large and small companies of varying levels of sophistication. From my experiences, there is no doubt that there are fundamental problems with the U.S. patent system, as well as the patent systems of other countries. As one example, I frequently experienced frustration dealing with patent examiners who clearly did not understand the basic rules of patentability, even when these rules are clearly spelled out for all to see in their manual. In recent years, it started to seem that I was dealing with the "no patent office," instead of the Patent Office.This blog post is not about the problems with the patent system, however. The reality is that the patent system is

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Do You Have the Right In-House IP Legal Team to Successfully Execute Your Business Plans?

As a leading business strategist, you understand that your company must “innovate or die.” In embracing this philosophy, you realize that intellectual property (“IP”) strategy is critical to your ability to successfully execute your company's business plans. You also realize that your company's IP constitutes a business asset that can (and should) be monetized, traded and sold, just like any other asset. And, like other assets, the goal should be to maximize these assets. Accordingly, you consider IP to be a critical aspect of your company's business plans. Unfortunately, the people that manage your IP assets, that is, your in-house IP legal team, may not be eager to introduce innovations into the IP management process that can significantly increase IP asset value. Your company may therefore be leaving significant “money on the table” because you do not have the right IP legal team in place. I am now an IP Strategist and

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Intellectual Property Strategy Consultants: A New Model for the Small to Mid-Size Corporation

As a business leader in a small to mid-sized corporation, you know that businesses such as yours are increasingly looking toward intellectual property as a means to generate assets. This is not surprising because it is estimated that less than 15 % or greater of your corporation’s value today is situated in its tangible assets. (See for example, http://www.ipfrontline.com/depts/article.asp?id=3674&deptid=3) Not all of this intangible value is located in your patents, off course. Indeed, your corporation may not even own any patents today. But if your organization extracts measurable value from proprietary technology or products, corporate value is heavily reliant on your patent and intellectual property strategy. That is, if your corporation’s technology and/or products are valuable, another company is likely to want a piece of the action, which, will result in erosion of your sales and profits. If this is the case for your corporation, you may be wondering

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Patent Strategy Could Be Essential to Your Private Equity Business Plan

A friend of mine recently joined a small, privately-held consumer product company as its innovation manager. The company, which I will call "Cool Stuff," is owned by a private equity firm. The private equity firm purchased Cool Stuff about a year ago. Cool Stuff was essentially an established “mom and pop” company with a core product line. Cool Stuff has a couple of manufacturing facilities, but the primary value of the company is its relationships with existing customers (such as department and grocery stores) that will make it possible for new products to gain shelf space in department stores. The private equity company's payback model centers on growing the sales of Cool Stuff by introduction of several innovative and differentiated new products (hence, the reason for hiring my friend). After these products are shown to provide sustainable profits for Cool Stuff, the private equity firm plans to sell Cool Stuff and

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Your Best Foreign Patent Strategy May Be a Strong U.S. Patent Strategy

Today, it is common for U.S.-based manufacturers to outsource manufacturing of their product line to countries with lower costs. Perhaps your company has already done so. While this business plan can increase short term profit margins, the company outsourcing its manufacturing to a foreign company is also in danger of exchanging these shorter term gains for the long term value embedded in its intellectual property rights. As an IP Strategist and owner of an IP Strategy and Consulting service, I can tell you that a well-thought out patent U.S. patent strategy can be the best protection when a company is engaging foreign manufacturers to make its product. Let’s assume that your company is introducing a consumer gadget in the U.S. Business realities today likely require your company to manufacture the gadget in China and import it into the U.S. This plan makes good financial sense, but you are also likely concerned

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Think You Don’t Need an Intellectual Property Strategy? You’re Probably Wrong.

Recently, a seasoned businesswoman friend told me “our company doesn’t need an intellectual property strategy because we don’t own any intellectual property.” The company to which she was referring, which I will call “Restaurant Supplies to U,” does not make products. Rather, this company distributes the products of other companies to restaurants and food service facilities. As we continued our discussion, I discovered that my friend believed that company needs an intellectual property strategy only to prevent other companies from knocking off a company's products or manufacturing techniques. Since Restaurant Supplies to U did not manufacture or sell products, she assumed that her company did not need to worry about intellectual property. As an IP Strategist and owner of an IP Strategy and Consulting service (more info here: http://www.jackiehutter.com/), I can tell you that this is a false, but surprisingly common assumption: almost all companies derive significant value from intellectual property

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How You Can Be a Top Player in IP in 3 “Easy Steps”

As a forward-thinking business strategist, you will be interested in the reprinted article published in the Summer 2007 Sloan Management Review entitled “Patenting for Profits” (available in this link: sloanreview.mit.edu/wsj/insight/pdfs/48409.pdf). This article, which was written by two partners at Bain & Company, presents a very succinct explanation of the elements needed for a company to become a top player in the IP game. As an IP Strategist and owner of an IP Strategy and Consulting services (more info here: http://www.jackiehutter/, I believe this article clearly lays out the necessary features for your company to create and deploy a patent strategy that will maximize your corporate assets. To summarize this article, as a top player in creating value from patents, you will create and deploy an infrastructure having each of these elements: 1) a strong market focus; 2) a holistic view; and 3) a strong organization. When your organization has a

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Don’t Destroy Your Corporate Asset Value by Outsourcing Responsibility for Managing Your Patent Strategy to Your Attorney

Even though you are a strategic and savvy businessperson, you may not be feel entirely comfortable with the substance and value of your company’s patent portfolio. In the face of this, you may believe that it is better to cede management of your company’s patent strategy to your patent attorneys. You may make this decision even when you would not consider outsourcing management of any other type of valuable corporate asset. Indeed, you likely would not give a moment’s thought to handing off management of any of your company’s valuable assets to a non-businessperson. For example, would you put your attorneys in charge of maximizing the payback of your innovation product pipeline or your business’ account receivables? Of course not. As an IP Strategist and owner of an IP Strategy and consulting company, I can guarantee you that, if your company owns one or more patents that prevent others from knocking

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