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
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
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).
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
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.
Recently, I was asked to speak to a Georgia Tech MBA class about IP Strategy--specifically about the inter-play of IP in M&A. A significant portion of my talk addressed how poorly existing due diligence and IP metric methodologies traditionally perform to predict the financial success of M&A transactions. There is no question that improvements are needed in this regard. For example, in 2006, Inc.com reported that 60-70 % of acquisitions fail and more than 90 % of acquired businesses lose value. These somewhat dismal results leave no doubt that acquiring companies need better sources of information to properly vet and select acquisition targets. Having been involved in M&A transactions as a legal and business advisor over the years, I have developed unique insights on the the due diligence and IP metric processes from both sides of deals. In these deals, the highest (and presumably most expensive) advice of investment
(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
(Editorial Note: Last week, I posted my thoughts on the proposed changes to the US patent laws from a first to invent to a first to file system. In response to my post, I received an exceedingly detailed and substantive comment from David Boundy, Vice President, Ass't Gen'l Counsel, Intellectual Property at Cantor, Fitzgerald. (David wanted me to say that this post his personal view, and does not reflect the views of Cantor, Fitzgerald.) David's viewpoint on what the proposed legislation will mean to business deserves a forum, and he has graciously allowed me to post his comment in total on the IP Asset Maximizer Blog. Anyone who works with business to generate patent assets should be concerned about the proposed changes.) About guest poster David Boundy: David Boundy has spent over a decade on Wall Street, first in several of New York's most prominent law