In this world of ever rising energy costs, your company likely has one or more teams of people working to reduce energy consumption and improve the efficiency of your company’s processes. Your company is also probably working diligently on ways to make your operations more “green.” For example, if your company exhibits a large carbon footprint in its manufacturing processes, someone in your organization is likely thinking about ways to reduce your carbon emissions in advance of the possible adoption of government-mandated carbon cap and trade system directed to fight global climate change.
However, because the external forces of energy costs and possible governmental regulation are driving these and green innovations inside your company, it is quite likely that these efforts are occurring outside of normal R&D channels. That is, your company’s Manufacturing, Operations and Logistics personnel are likely responsible for developing and testing these potential new innovations, and for bringing them on-line as soon as possible.
I have found that when such non-R&D personnel are responsible for corporate innovations, a company often misses out on opportunities to obtain patent protection for such valuable proprietary advantages. This is due to the fact that non-R&D personnel typically do not think of themselves as “inventive” and/or they operate under the radar of the company’s in-house or outside patent counsel. As a result, when these personnel develop innovations, they often do not possess the knowledge to recognize that a patent should be pursued to keep competitors from benefiting from their company’s innovations. And, even if they do know about the importance of patents, corporate patent resources may not be readily accessible to them.