Even though you are a strategic and savvy businessperson, you may not be feel entirely comfortable with the substance and value of your company’s patent portfolio. In the face of this, you may believe that it is better to cede management of your company’s patent strategy to your patent attorneys. You may make this decision even when you would not consider outsourcing management of any other type of valuable corporate asset. Indeed, you likely would not give a moment’s thought to handing off management of any of your company’s valuable assets to a non-businessperson. For example, would you put your attorneys in charge of maximizing the payback of your innovation product pipeline or your business’ account receivables? Of course not.
As an IP Strategist and owner of an IP Strategy and consulting company, I can guarantee you that, if your company owns one or more patents that prevent others from knocking off your products or technology, your patents hold significant value and, as such, constitute important or even critical assets for your company. So why would you turn over management of such substantial company assets to an attorney? I have found that some businesspeople view patents as arcane and, perhaps, virtually impossible for them to understand to the degree necessary for them to make informed business decisions.
If this is your perspective on patents, you may also believe that the opportunity costs are too high to justify your expending the time and effort to learn and engage with the strategic relevance of patents to your business. So, while you mind the business of your business, you choose to rely primarily on your attorneys to attend to patent issues.
If your business relies on on patents to provide measurable competitive advantage, it is an error for you to outsource patent asset management to your attorneys. When any management function is relegated to a cost-center, like your corporate legal department, the focus of the responsible manager necessarily becomes cost control. Your company’s in-house legal managers are (more often than not) incentivized to reduce costs, and they generally will work to do so.