How SME’s can strategically manage IP during economic events (Step 7)

his is Part 7 of a 8 step series on how SME’s can strategically manage IP during economic events: updated IP Strategy

The key to successfully managing strategic IP during economic challenges relies on the ability to shift an IP plan or strategy, while minimizing impact on the protected value of the organization.

Re-prioritizing Efforts

Companies need a robust IP strategy that takes into account how to spend less but still create or retain intangible value over the long period. While access to continued capital for maintenance of patent portfolios will be important, those that understand which areas of the portfolio to “double down on” and which to divest or abandon that may only have secondary value will be much better position on balancing short term finance needs against long term value retention.

Strategy refresh

The efforts done previously during the IP audit (Step 1) and the changing landscapes (Step 6) now come into play, where analysis may be done to identify any recommended changes balance the cost and value of the assets. During re-prioritization of efforts, adjustments in business requires updating of how IP assets value may be considered, including assessing the IP assets against changes or shifts in market offers. As one example: The Covid-19 pandemic saw changes in product offers from many industries, including autonomous robots manufactures expanding to add UV-disinfecting robots to their product offer, or tracing and mobility tracking expanding to support public health challenges. What was not previously considered “secondary IP value” for an organization, may now be a primary value driver in a changed economy.

Other changes that may require re-assessment of the overall strategy stem from the review results of contractual obligations (Step 5) and changing IP landscapes (Step 6). These may bring to light new intelligence that creates new business opportunities or risks, which may make new IP backed business cases to bring forward to the organization. For example, in refreshing a strategy, seek to answer the following questions:

  • What market changes or new IP insights will change how we prioritize and categorize our IP assets (Step 1)? Does this re-prioritize how we invest in or manage IP?
  • What budget changes do we need to make to support expected changes in IP operations or portfolio management (Step 2)?
  • What IP talent do we need to adjust to accommodate our strategy shift (Step 3)?
  • What prosecution repositioning will we need to do to ensure any new business strategy has the required IP protection (Step 4)?

Moving forward

A market driven approach to innovation requires an IP strategy that is flexible, and is never a static plan over time. A useful patent strategy still needs to have applicable IP coverage that can be used to at least defend, license, or enforce rights as the market evolves. This requires update to an IP strategy as external markets change, and internal business priorities shift to match the market need. While this may see obvious, in practice it does not always happen. Often, due to the length of time required for patent prosecution claims may narrow and granted based on older market needs and not reviewed for relevance (either during prosecution or after granting). Involving external advisors (Step 6) in helping identify changing landscapes or patent prosecution strategies will often ensure alignment with ongoing prosecution and changing IP needs.

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