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IP Strategy is Increasing Focus at Innovative Companies: Here’s Why

After more than 8 years, I can report that IP Strategy is an increasing focus at innovative companies, and there is a solid reason why this is so. By way of background, for many years, I have been part of a small minority of IP experts who advocate that companies desiring to maximize the value of their IP investments re-think the way they seek and obtain patents. In short, I and my IP Strategist peers urge companies to wrest control of their “IP destiny” from their legal service providers who have traditionally been seen as the primary drivers of the patenting process for their clients. Of course, readers of my regular ruminations know that my strongly held view is that “the only person who needs a patent is a patent attorney,” and that, even for those companies for which patents are critically necessary, very

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Why the IP Law Firm Business Model is Broken And What I Am Doing About It

As a former IP law firm shareholder and senior corporate lawyer, I know all too well the expense required to start and maintain an IP law practice.  Not only are IP lawyers of all levels of experience paid handsomely, but so are the highly skilled paralegals, docket clerks and administrative professionals traditionally required create the infrastructure needed to handle the myriad of details involved in an IP law practice.  Of course, this expensive infrastructure must be sustaining, so while a lawyer serves today’s clients, her eye must also be on finding the next client because payroll and rent obligations don’t take a holiday when clients do. This "feed the beast" nature of the IP law practice model was a primary reason that I decided several years ago that I would not again work in the traditional practice of law.  How could I?  The standard legal service framework required me to build

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Want to Know More about IP Strategy? A Selection of Posts for In-House and Outside Counsel

This week, I am speaking at the Midwest IP Institute.  I will be participating in a "fire side chat" with my good friend, Edna Vassilovski of Stoel, Rives LLP. Our session is entitled "How Patent Prosecutors and In-House Counsel Can Provide Work Product Better Aligned with Client's Business Needs."  Specific topics we will discuss include:

  • How clients’ views of IP and intangible assets are changing and ways both inside and outside counsel can stay relevant to clients today;
  • What you can do to help clients obtain meaningful patents at reduced cost;
  • How to really understand clients’ business goals and how to help make those happen; and
  • How to help clients monetize their patents
I am really looking forward to sharing my passion for IP business strategy with in-house lawyers and outside counsel, especially since I will be doing this with someone like Edna who I think

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Contrarian Viewpoint: Patents Likely Matter Little to US Innovation and Job Creation

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

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Have a Pending US Patent Application? There’s Never Been a Better Time to Make a Deal with the Patent Office

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

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A New Framework for IP Strategy Conversations: Ex Post vs. Ex Ante (from IP P®OSPE©TIVE)

(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

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Success in Innovation Requires IP Counseling on the Front End: Here’s How to Make it Happen

The 2009 Open Innovation Summit was held in Orlando two weeks ago.  The event was attended by corporate practitioners of Open Innovation, including people from P&G, GSK Consumer, Cisco, Whirlpool, J&J, HP (here are Phil McKinney's slides), Clorox, and many others.  Leading consultants in Open Innovation also attended, including Stefan Lindegaard of Leadership+ Innovation, Braden Kelley of Blogging Innovation and Robert Brands of Innovation Coach.  A number of vendors of services were there, too.  I thought this was a great knowledge share event, and a must do for folks wanting to learn more about Open Innovation.  Another Summit is planned for August 201o in Chicago. At the Summit, we spent much of the 3 days hearing how the attending companies, many of which include those in the Fortune 100, view Open Innovation as a critical aspect of sustainable growth and profits.  We also heard about

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Corporate IP Managers: There are Bargains Galore Available at Some of the Most Prestigious Law Firms

Shopping cartWith corporate legal budgets being cut more than 10% in 2009 it might seem like challenging times to manage a corporate IP department. To add to the difficulties, such reductions are occurring even while many corporations are increasing the focus placed on creation of value using strategic IP management. Corporate IP managers must therefore obtain more valuable IP with smaller budgets. Fortunately for corporate IP managers, the current economic climate has forced many prestigious law firms to, perhaps for the first time, develop innovative billing and practice models. This has not only resulted in the effective billable rates of these law firms effectively dropping more than 10%, but many law firms have or are developing more efficient ways to deliver legal services to their clients. Smart law firms will pass these cost savings on to their clients to

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Everything’s Negotiable: How Corporations Can Drastically Reduce Their IP Legal Costs without Sacrificing IP Quality

Corporate legal managers and the business teams they support complain seemingly constantly abmoney bag symbolout outside counsel expense, and intellectual property ("IP") is no exception. And, why wouldn't they complain when every dollar spent on legal representation is money that is effectively removed from the company's P&L statement? This sets up an ongoing tension between corporations and law firms to reduce legal costs even while lawyers' incomes have sky-rocketed in recent years. For most corporate buyers of legal services, however, the ability to obtain substantive cost reduction has been somewhat limited due to the lack of transparent information available about legal fees. It may be even more difficult for corporate legal services buyers to gain meaningful reductions in IP costs because of the highly specialized nature of this area of law practice which, arguably, makes IP more of a "Black Box" than most areas. Moreover, regardless

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How a Patent Strategy Focused Only on Obtaining the Lowest Cost Patents May Reveal a Company’s Future Inability to Remain Viable

Commentators like me frequently rail against what we view as the often unnecessarily high cost of obtaining patent protection. In truth, many patents are overpriced and provide questionable business value to their clients. Over-priced patents do not form the basis of this article, however. Instead, this is about the opposite phenomenon, i.e., under-priced patents. Specifically, in this article, I describe a company's desire to obtain low cost patents and what such a patent strategy may reveal about its long term viability. I was recently contacted by a large printer manufacturer ("PrinterCo" for the purposes of this discussion) to see whether I was interested in preparing patent applications for the price of $1300 each. This price seemed somewhat ridiculous to me because even the most "bargain basement" patent preparation prices that pop up on my Google sidebar advertising do not seem to dip beneath a threshold level of $2800. And, as a

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