But, as a wise man once said: “You have to spend money to make money.” Therefore, a cost reduction model is inappropriate when it is your responsibility to maximize return on business assets—and this includes your patent assets.
(Note that you should distinguish between patent asset management and patent procurement. The latter is what patent attorneys have been specially trained to do: write patent applications, engage in dialogue with the Patent Office so as to demonstrate that a patent is worthy of granting and provide legal opinions to clients regarding matters such as whether a competitor’s patent prevent freedom to sell a product. Patent procurement is no doubt the job of a patent attorney, and ensuring that costs are kept under control in this regard is critical and in-house legal managers should of course be incentivized to keep these costs in check. In contrast, patent asset management involves the process and methodologies relating to maximizing return on your patent assets.)
You can be successful in maximizing your company’s patent assets when you apply strategic business focus to their development and maintenance. However, this requires your engagement and understanding of what your patents cover and what they are worth. Therefore, even though patents may seem arcane and somewhat unintelligible to your non-legal eye, as a business leader, you should embrace patent asset management as a fundamental aspect your business strategy and decision making responsibilities. So, go ahead—pick up the phone and engage in a substantive dialogue with your attorney about your business’s current and future patent strategy. Your company’s shareholders will be glad you did.