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