Tips from Corporate IP Managers

Today I attended an American Intellectual Property Law Association patent seminar in Washington, D.C.  The seminar included a panel discussion about how to effectively manage costs when maintaining an IP portfolio.  Useful ideas included:

  • Establish an “IP champion” for different business units or product lines so that someone within each unit is responsible for identifying significant new developments (including new products, software, and manufacturing processes).  Have that person coordinate with IP counsel to develop a strategy for protecting those developments.
  • Companies with a “culture of innovation” can more effectively manage IP portfolios.  Corporate officers who actively influence product development strategies are critical for obtaining support for IP protection.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of regularly gathering competitive intelligence.  Although protecting your own IP is important, it’s just as important – and sometimes more important – to proactively monitor competitors’ patent filings, new product introductions and marketing materials.
  • New developments can have value even if they don’t end up in a product of the business.  Consider potential licensing revenue when deciding whether or not to protect a new innovation.

The panel included in-house IP counsel from Caterpillar Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Milliken & Co.  AIPLA will repeat the seminar on June 14 in Minneapolis and June 21 in Portland.   I recommend the program for anyone involved in patent prosecution.

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