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).
Anyone who has practiced IP law for a few years can attest to the transformations happening in the US Patent Office over the last year. In my opinion, Director Kappos is more than a breathe of fresh air over his predecessors, he actually knows what he is doing! Also, regardless of what one may think of President Obama's other policies and actions, one cannot question that his leadership is resulting in real attempts at innovation in the arguably previously moribund Patent Office. As a experienced patent practitioner, the last several years have been very demoralizing. I actually made the decision to stop working as a patent prosecutor because, quite simply, I became weary trying to educate junior examiners about the deeply nuanced intricacies of patent law. Worse was trying to explain to clients why their patent application covering an important commercial innovation could not get approved in the Kafkaesque environment of
The US Patent Office is in a deal-making mood. Really. Ever since Director Kappos told his examiners last Fall that "patent quality does not equal rejection," I have heard many stories about how patent applications that appeared to be stuck in the limbo 0f serial rejections are now being allowed. Those of us who talk about such things online are in agreement that we may be operating in an unprecedented favorable environment of patent allowances. The data bear out this anecdotal evidence: patent issuances are up 35% this year over last year. My sense of what is happening, which has been confirmed by other experienced patent folks to whom I have spoken, the perspective of the Patent Office has changed. The consensus is the U.S. patenting process is much less adversarial today. In recent years, examiners were effectively told by the Patent Office administration that "there needs to
It is fairly rare for patents to make hit the radar screen of mainstream news outlets but, recently, there has been much space allotted to the issue of patent mis-marking and lawsuits being brought by third parties for "violation" of the law requiring that products cannot be marked with an incorrect patent number. Indeed, the usually substance-free local paper in my mother's Southwest Florida community reported about the flood of patent mis-marking lawsuits. And, it is no wonder that the undoubtedly arcane issue of patent marking has reached the status of "news" in a small-town paper given the huge number of cases currently pending in the federal courts. It seems as if patent marking litigation may be the new business model for trial lawyers who are
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.
The 2009 Open Innovation Summit was held in Orlando two weeks ago. The event was attended by corporate practitioners of Open Innovation, including people from P&G, GSK Consumer, Cisco, Whirlpool, J&J, HP (here are Phil McKinney's slides), Clorox, and many others. Leading consultants in Open Innovation also attended, including Stefan Lindegaard of Leadership+ Innovation, Braden Kelley of Blogging Innovation and Robert Brands of Innovation Coach. A number of vendors of services were there, too. I thought this was a great knowledge share event, and a must do for folks wanting to learn more about Open Innovation. Another Summit is planned for August 201o in Chicago. At the Summit, we spent much of the 3 days hearing how the attending companies, many of which include those in the Fortune 100, view Open Innovation as a critical aspect of sustainable growth and profits. We also heard about
With corporate legal budgets being cut more than 10% in 2009 it might seem like challenging times to manage a corporate IP department. To add to the difficulties, such reductions are occurring even while many corporations are increasing the focus placed on creation of value using strategic IP management. Corporate IP managers must therefore obtain more valuable IP with smaller budgets. Fortunately for corporate IP managers, the current economic climate has forced many prestigious law firms to, perhaps for the first time, develop innovative billing and practice models. This has not only resulted in the effective billable rates of these law firms effectively dropping more than 10%, but many law firms have or are developing more efficient ways to deliver legal services to their clients. Smart law firms will pass these cost savings on to their clients to
Corporate legal managers and the business teams they support complain seemingly constantly about outside counsel expense, and intellectual property ("IP") is no exception. And, why wouldn't they complain when every dollar spent on legal representation is money that is effectively removed from the company's P&L statement? This sets up an ongoing tension between corporations and law firms to reduce legal costs even while lawyers' incomes have sky-rocketed in recent years. For most corporate buyers of legal services, however, the ability to obtain substantive cost reduction has been somewhat limited due to the lack of transparent information available about legal fees. It may be even more difficult for corporate legal services buyers to gain meaningful reductions in IP costs because of the highly specialized nature of this area of law practice which, arguably, makes IP more of a "Black Box" than most areas. Moreover, regardless
While we can argue about the exact amount, without question, intangible assets form the majority of corporate value today. Matters involving IP are therefore predominately business issues, as opposed to legal issues or technical issues. For example, IP in the form of patents or trademarks (or both) frequently serves as a basis of the premium pricing that can be obtained from a differentiated product line. Also, IP directed toward a competitor's technology can legally limit the ability of a competitor to expand its offerings, thus decreasing its ability to compete. There are many other examples of the business value of IP, all which when strategically obtained and managed can greatly increase the overall financial position of the corporation using IP as a business tool. Notwithstanding the substantial dollars associated with corporate IP decisions, most organizations leave questions of IP in the hands of their legal and technical teams. Of course, many
The Slideshare presentation that follows is an excerpt from a class that I am teaching to in-house legal managers about innovations in IP management. The topic of the presentation is innovative methods to reduce IP legal procurement and management costs. The goal of my presentation is not to get corporate IP types not to think outside the box but, rather, to think outside the truck the box came in. As such, many people may think these ideas are "way out," but if you start with small ideas, you end up with small improvements.