In a recent post on his 15 Inno blog, Open Innovation guru Stefan Lindegaard presented the ostensibly nonsensical hypothesis: R & D leaders are often a "threat" to innovation. Stefan's post resulted from an interaction he had with a senior R & D person at a mid-sized tech company, who apparently adhered to the outdated notion that he and his scientists and engineers know more about the company's business than anyone else could possibly even try to know. As a result, this R & D leader believes that they cannot maximize (or even create) value for their organization by looking outside the confines of their existing R & D infrastructure to solve the company's pressing business problems. Reading this, R & D professionals might likely think: "What's this guy smoking? How can R & D be a threat to innovation?! We're the reason this company has any innovation at all.
(Editorial note: This is a repost from this blog over 2 years ago, but the content is more relevant than ever. On January 20, 2010, I am participating in a Yet2.com webinar with Ben DuPont and Jason Lye where we will be sharing our thoughts about marketing technology to "non-traditional" technology buyers, many of whom come to the table because they are adopting Open Innovation into their product and technology development processes. I thought this "classic" post would be a good overview for anyone of my viewpoint for those who find my blog as a result of this event. For regular readers, well, I hope you enjoy this too. I will post a link to the recorded webinar when it is available. ) 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
I spent a few days last week at the Innovation Cubed Conference in Orlando. While there, I heard two instances of use of a term that I absolutely hate, at least when it is used by innovation professionals to define in some manner the innovation processes of their respective organizations. This word is:
PATENT WHITESPACE ANALYSISNot only do I hate this phrase, I think that companies that utilize patent (or IP) whitespace analysis to define their product and technology development pathways are quite possibly setting themselves up for failure. And, it's bad enough that a single innovation project might fail as a result of the faulty data inputs that can occur from relying on whitespace assessments, but I think that most corporate processes incorporating patent whitespace analysis are based upon faulty methodology, thus setting the organization up for sustainable failure. For the uninitiated, when applied to the patent world,
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
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
Many experts insist that innovation cannot succeed without patents, and that the delays in the US Patent Office stifle innovation. This viewpoint is like to become more widely believed by the public as US Patent Office Director Stephen Kappos sees a way to improve the dismal operations of the Patent Office by equating patents as job creation tools, which necessarily requires patents to be asserted as critical for innovation to occur. I believe it is highly misleading, and even harmful in many cases, to say that patents are the end-all be-all to innovation. I also think that fixing the Patent Office--which will invariably mean that more people will see value in obtaining patents to support their business idea--should be viewed more as a job creation engine for patent attorneys and those who support them (including Patent Office employees), as opposed to creating jobs that can help improve the
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
Regular readers of this blog will recognize that I am a strong advocate of the use of patent information in the front end of innovation processes. (More on this here, here and here.) Relatively few innovation professionals actually do so, however, likely because it can be difficult for innovators to understand how to change the longstanding paradigm where lawyers are perceived to be the people who "put the 'no' in innovation." Put simply, I find that innovation professionals prefer to leave anything smelling of legal advice out of the front end of their processes because they think they will not be able to do their jobs if the lawyers show up to their meetings. Of course, it makes little sense for innovation professionals to make significant business decisions involving new products or technology without also knowing whether they will be able to own the fruits of their innovations
Recently, I have been spending considerable time working with innovation professionals to demonstrate the value-creation opportunities available by embracing IP strategy as an aspect of their processes, and why patent drafting should be an aspect of their roles and responsibilities. More specifically, my efforts have focused on why and how patents matter to the ROI of corporate innovation today. Most business people would likely acknowledge that patents are important to protect their products from competition, however, the vast majority of the innovation professionals whom I meet have no idea how critical patent strategy can be to the success of their business plans. Modern innovation processes typically start with identification of a consumer need or the like. In so doing, the innovation team undertakes detailed research to draw dimension around a product that will solve this consumer need. This research will be directed toward identifying the multiple ways the consumer need can
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.