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Patent Expertise: Are You Selecting the Right Type?

There's an army of patent experts to choose from. Are you selecting the right one?

Companies looking for valuable patents should reconsider whether technical credentials are the best way to select a lawyer. Patents should be viewed as business documents first if the goal is to protect valuable innovation investment. When you engage a patent professional based on technical skills, you may end up with what I call the "mind-meld" that follows from two teams that share the same expertise. While the lawyer will bring legal skills that the client's technical team does not possess, it can be said that the overlap of skills not only makes one of the persons redundant, the commonality of interests often silos the effort in the technical aspects of the effort.

Notably, customers select a product because it

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Up Your Patent Game with a Referee

When two teams are working for opposite goals, a referee can make sure the game is played by the rules.

One-hundred % of patents make money for their lawyers, but very few--some estimates say 5% or fewer--make money for their owners. This disconnect is striking when you say it out loud, but few seem to recognize that it exists. Perhaps this is because it works very well for the "Patent Industrial Complex."

To this end, every intellectual property law firm has bills to pay, appearances to maintain, and risks to mitigate. This can certainly be tough to see when one is working to grow a successful legal practice, as I did in an earlier part of my career, but the thought did arise from time to time. A well-known IP lawyer I worked used

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Editorial Note: Where Has This Blog Been Lately?

Subscribers to this blog may have been wondering why posts have been few and far between lately.  There's a good reason for this:  I am now CEO of a startup company.  You can learn more about my company, Evgentech, here.  In short, our technology will allow you to charge your batteries 10x's faster than you can now--and perhaps even faster as we further develop our innovation platform.  Things are moving fast and furious, which has made it difficult for me to spend the time to write blog posts on a regular basis.   There is good news, however:  I am experiencing first hand what it is like dealing with Open Innovation and licensing.  In this regard, I look forward to continuing to post from time to time on the experiences that our company is going through, as I think

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Open Innovation Insights: 5 Biggest IP Legal Mistakes Small Companies Make When Working with Large Companies

Open Innovation guru Stefan Lindegaard recently asked me what the biggest IP legal mistakes small companies make when they are working with large companies.   This is a subject very near and dear to my heart, as I am currently "moonlighting" as GC of a start up energy company that is moving toward licensing our technology into large companies.  Also, as a senior IP lawyer at a multi-national consumer products company, I was on the other side of such deals on more occasions than I can count.  Prior to that, I was a law firm partner representing large and small corporations in patents and licensing issues, and in doing so, I now realize that I killed more deals than I ever facilitated, a situation that is more typical of law firm lawyers than it should be, unfortunately. In view of this multi-faceted experience, I present this list of the 5

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Read This to Become a Better Patent Attorney or Agent (Crosspost from GameTime IP Blog)

(Editorial note:  My friend Patrick Anderson, proprietor of the great GameTime IP blog, recently met someone who wrote the Don't File a Patent book.  As a patent attorney, Patrick was greatly affected by what inventor John Smith--yes, his real name--experienced in his journey in obtaining and enforcing his patent and trademark rights.  While most of us would probably not agree with Mr. Smith's apparent blanket advice to inventors that a patent is never the right course to take, his negative viewpoint can be instructive to those of us who want to better understand our client's objectives to create greater business value for them.  Very often the relationship between those who toil in the "foxholes" of the patent world do not stop and think about the expectations and desires of those for whom they are working so diligently.  For solo inventors and small companies, investment

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Success at Open Innovation Requires Finding the Right Partners: Here’s How to Improve Your Success Rates

With more companies building open innovation into their product development platforms, there would appear to be increasing opportunities for companies and independent IP owners to sell or license their technology.  In my many conversations with corporate innovation professionals, I find that that the desire to in-source externally developed products and technology may be strong, but few know how to go about finding and acquiring what their companies need.  As I have written about before, developing fruitful open innovation relationships is very much like dating:  you may want to do so, but unless you know where to show up, and how to initiate conversation, chances are you will remain single for a long time unless you engage a matchmaker. Well, I guess you could be your own "matchmaker" and search for potential partners.  This is easier today than it used to be because many corporations have idea submission portals and a

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How Patent Whitespace Analysis Can Set a Company Up for Sustainable Failure

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 ANALYSIS

Not 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,

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We’re Measuring the Wrong Things: Inventiveness and Patents Do Not Equal Innovation

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

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Contrarian Viewpoint: Patents Likely Matter Little to US Innovation and Job Creation

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

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An Innovation Expert Sticks Up for IP Lawyers!

Regular readers of this blog know that I strongly believe that IP lawyers can do a whole lot more to better serve the needs of innovation teams.  Much of the disconnect between what IP lawyers do and those of their innovation clients can be traced to misalignment of incentives, as well as a structural and cultural impediments that makes it difficult for legal and business experts to communicate and work well together.  Last week, along with my good friend Deb Mills-Scofield and Mike Riegsecker of Menasha Packaging, I co-led a workshop on this topic at the 2nd Annual Open Innovation Summit.  The workshop was well-attended, and the response was very positive. Also, it appears that my message got through to at least one attendee, who is a prominent innovation consultant.  Keven McFarthing of Innovation Fixer wrote this post in which he asks open innovation professionals to not just

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