With more companies building open innovation into their product development platforms, there would appear to be increasing opportunities for companies and independent IP owners to sell or license their technology. In my many conversations with corporate innovation professionals, I find that that the desire to in-source externally developed products and technology may be strong, but few know how to go about finding and acquiring what their companies need. As I have written about before, developing fruitful open innovation relationships is very much like dating: you may want to do so, but unless you know where to show up, and how to initiate conversation, chances are you will remain single for a long time unless you engage a matchmaker. Well, I guess you could be your own "matchmaker" and search for potential partners. This is easier today than it used to be because many corporations have idea submission portals and a
The take home message: If your company sells a product that bears a patent number, you need to read this post in its entirety. Much has been written in recent months about false marking lawsuits, most of these in the form of "urgent legal alerts" by law firms that calmly deconstruct the appellate court rulings (this one is illustrative). At the end of the day, these articles likely do not look very "urgent" to business people like yourself because most business people do not engage themselves with patent law generally, let alone something as arcane as false marking. So, even though the subject excites us a patent experts, we really cannot expect you to get excited about something that does not seem to affect your ability to conduct business today. However, if your business is a likely target of a false marking lawsuit it will cost you big bucks almost immediately.
Few things infuriate me more than supposed experts who make statements along the lines of "patents are critical to innovation." I have avoided stating my views widely in this forum because I didn't want to get into a contest of one upmanship with my patent lawyer peers. However, in the last couple of weeks, several pieces of information have hit my radar screen that make this seem like the right time to go public with my views. Let my position be very clear: we create a false dichotomy when saying "innovation is not possible without patents." The issue is much more complex and nuanced than this: in a particular instance, patents may be critical to innovation, but they might also be only slightly important or--likely in the majority of situations--they might be wholly irrelevant to innovation. (I talk more about this in this recent interview in Innovation Management
Many of you who read my blog also follow my Tweet Streams when I am at conferences. Last Fall, I blogged from the Georgia State University Corporate IP Institute. Several people admonished me for not letting them know beforehand that the event was occurring, so this year I am giving everyone advance notice, as well as providing folks with the ability to attend using my discount code. The 2010 GSU Corporate IP Institute will be on November 4-5 at Georgia State University. Unlike most IP-related CLE's, this event generally is light on the case law citations, and heavy on practical tips for those who view IP as a primary form of business value today. (Editorial note: if you are a case law geek, then this is not the event for you--but if you are a caselaw geek, why the heck are you reading this blog anyway?!) The
Many experts insist that innovation cannot succeed without patents, and that the delays in the US Patent Office stifle innovation. This viewpoint is like to become more widely believed by the public as US Patent Office Director Stephen Kappos sees a way to improve the dismal operations of the Patent Office by equating patents as job creation tools, which necessarily requires patents to be asserted as critical for innovation to occur. I believe it is highly misleading, and even harmful in many cases, to say that patents are the end-all be-all to innovation. I also think that fixing the Patent Office--which will invariably mean that more people will see value in obtaining patents to support their business idea--should be viewed more as a job creation engine for patent attorneys and those who support them (including Patent Office employees), as opposed to creating jobs that can help improve the
One of the biggest complaints I get from corporate innovation and product development professionals is how risk averse their lawyers tend to be about dealing with intellectual property ("IP") issues. It doesn't matter whether these business people are talking about their outside or in-house lawyers, either. To a person, the complaint generally tracks the contention that their IP lawyers "don't get what they do" and, as a result, make it more difficult for them to meet the objective of adequately filling their product pipelines and introducing innovative new products that will keep the lights on at their corporations. I have written and spoken about this topic on several occasions. But, recently, I have been thinking a lot about the issue of risk aversion and IP lawyers for a couple of reasons. First, I am co-leading a workshop at the 2nd Annual Open Innovation Summit next week in Chicago with my good
Anyone who has practiced IP law for a few years can attest to the transformations happening in the US Patent Office over the last year. In my opinion, Director Kappos is more than a breathe of fresh air over his predecessors, he actually knows what he is doing! Also, regardless of what one may think of President Obama's other policies and actions, one cannot question that his leadership is resulting in real attempts at innovation in the arguably previously moribund Patent Office. As a experienced patent practitioner, the last several years have been very demoralizing. I actually made the decision to stop working as a patent prosecutor because, quite simply, I became weary trying to educate junior examiners about the deeply nuanced intricacies of patent law. Worse was trying to explain to clients why their patent application covering an important commercial innovation could not get approved in the Kafkaesque environment of
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
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.
(Happy belated Holidays to readers of the IP Asset Maximizer blog. The dearth of postings on this blog lately is due not only to my hectic holiday schedule, but also the death of my aged Grandfather. Thanks everyone for your patience--we'll be up and running on a regular schedule after the New Year.) I just came across this post from the Blogging Innovation blog, hosted by Braden Kelley. (Anyone interested in innovation MUST subscribe to Braden's blog.) The post, entitled "Part 1: Three Innovation Distinctions" is by Steve Shapiro of Innocentive, distills what innovation is down to words which are placed in counterbalance with the standard model of product and technology development. Specifically, Steve contends that innovation is about:
- Challenges not Ideas
- Process not Events
- Diversity not Homogeneity