Does your Scale-up Reality Check Show an IP Strategy?

Investments in technology and global marketing are still happening, but in Canada, 90% of companies are not protecting the innovation as they move to grow. 

In the past several months I have talked with numerous startups and high-potential scale-up ventures, few of which are ready or able to adequately invest in protecting their R&D investments as they grow. The key challenge they all face? IP obstacles – both in funds to invest and the experience or expertise to do so efficiently, which will in turn become a limiter to their growth. The end result, at least for the ventures I met with, was they are at serious risk in expanding their global market footprint while keeping global competition at bay.

I considered if my experience was limited to the groups I spoke to, so I analyzed some additional Canadian market data, which confirmed my view.

First, we have to consider that there is support for company growth, and both Government and Canadian ventures are continuing to show success in innovations for global scale up. As an example, almost 75 Canadian companies were exhibitors at January’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2017) in Las Vegas, with more than half of them coming from Ontario. Navdeep Bains, Canada’s minister of innovation, science and economic development, was in attendance and met with a number of Canadians companies such as Blackberry, Mighty Cast, Interaxion, and Paradigm Electronics, to discuss innovation and access to global markets.  Considering the Government of Canada is investing $218 million over the next five years to increase global investments, and CES 2017 is billed as the worlds largest consumer technology tradeshow, the attendance by both Minister Baines and the exhibitors to help promote our innovations on a global scale makes sense.

However, when I look at the data, the long term impact of the Government’s global investments drive coupled with the ventures R&D investment, I struggled to find a way these investments would be protected. My analysis of the all the Canadian SME companies exhibiting at CES 2017 indicated only 18% had publicly listed patent protection for their technology. In fact, less than 10% of the SME’s reviewed had the beginnings of an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy. This implies that upwards of 90% of the ventures promoting their innovations on a global scale were not set-up to protect the benefits of their efforts in the long term.

What this means is while high-potential scale-up firms are producing ideas, ownership eventually will lie elsewhere as larger global competitors move to copy the product, or protect new iterations with their own IP protection.

Looking globally, there are several countries that realize this, and are moving to act on it. In April, Singapore launched a $1Billion innovation fund, which was partially funded by the IP Office of Singapore. Their goal is to fund companies that have “globally competitive technology”, and also begin to move Singapore as a “Global IP Hub in Asia”. With this it is clear that the innovation investments via Singapore will have a strong IP aspect to them. Canada, with creation of a National Patent Strategy in this years Federal Budget, will hopefully not be far behind.

In 2014 I posted a writeup about “Innovation and Sovereign Patent Pools”. The global IP licensing market has changed dramatically and while SPF’s and Patent Assertion Entities are still relevant, their approaches are expanding from pure licensing to stronger linkages to local innovation projects and funding.

So where do we move from here?

As a company, one must invest in not only research and global growth plans, but ensure they have the freedom to own their success – which can be accomplished by an IP Strategy. As an investor, either a private or government fund, policy and action via funding must consider the ownership of the technology: are we satisfied with merely creating technology, or will we strive to be the beneficiaries of our intellectual property?

To be successful, all key parties – ventures, investors, and government groups – need to make strategic investments in intellectual property to give freedom for growth.

Written by Comments Off on Does your Scale-up Reality Check Show an IP Strategy? Posted in Patent

Forthcoming book chapter: IP Portfolio Management

IPStrategy_book_ImageLack of posts does not mean I have not been busy! On the contrary, I have a new publication coming out soon in the form of a book chapter.

IP Strategy: A Practical Management Guide will be out for publication shortly by Globe Law & Business, in the UK. As the co-author of one of twelve chapters, we address both what strategic portfolio management aspects need considered, and how they interact with the larger business strategy of an organization.

In practice IP managers and CIPOs oversee a process that addresses the critical aspects of IP management: ensuring the IP is codified and secured as legal rights where possible; decisions on types of IP asset protection from the numerous risks they face; managing the assets in alignment with stated business strategy; and keeping stakeholders focused on the long-term creation of value from IP.

Written for the IP manager or CEO, it provides practical applications and best practices on managing the IP environment within the corporate business. While it is just as important to generate an overall IP strategy for a business to execute on, it is also critical that there is follow-through on the portfolio development, supporting processes, and IP team.  As such the chapter covers the fifteen portfolio management influences within a typical organization, and how they need considered by an executive for successful portfolio alignment with the business direction.

My thanks to Stephen Robertson at Metis Partners for inviting me to contribute, and my co-author Paul Kallmes for putting up with the endless rounds of edits.


How an innovation and IP value-chain view can transform portfolio value

I recently authored an article in IAM Magazine, entitled “How an innovation and IP value-chain view can transform portfolio value“. I looked at how viewing an IP portfolio from the value chain of a business can identify gaps and opportunities for business and IP executives.   Overall, looking at the value chain from the perspective of both depth and breadth gives a more cohesive view of the landscape of the actual IP and innovation environment.

“An innovation-based decision about what to continue to invest in must be made in the context of the intellectual property and the business ecosystem”

The article goes into detail on how this depth and breadth view of the value chain give business and IP insights to a management team.    For example, using IoT as a case study, we are able to see that the highest proportion of patents is in the component side of the value chain. This suggests that interoperability via communications is well protected and ventures should develop an IP position accordingly.  However, it also suggests that interoperability protection via IoT systems is extremely unbalanced, with few filings around system-level customer offerings

With vendors pushing innovations to interoperability to achieve faster market adoption (estimated 40% of the IoT value is in interoperability), there seems to be a disconnect with the amount of intellectual property filed at the solution end of the value chain (only 5%). This view does not even fully consider the convergence of segments that will come from traditional ventures in other sectors. For example, the connected car has traditional suppliers such as Ford and Continental filing IP registrations alongside other IoT-savvy vendors such as Alphabet, Apple and other selected telecommunications companies.

There is additional IoT patent landscape data in the article, and is available here for download.

Written by Comments Off on How an innovation and IP value-chain view can transform portfolio value Posted in Patent

Inclusion into the IAM Strategy 300 list for 2016

IAM Strategy 300 2016 Truly a “Standing on the shoulders of giants” moment – for the 3rd year in a row I have been listed in the 2016 edition of the IAM Strategy 300, which was published  last month.

I am particularly thankful to my peers for nominating me for inclusion in this years list.   When I started investing in my IP education 17 years ago, seemingly “before it was cool”, I did it because I was passionate about the topic, getting insight from every piece of literature I could.  As a result of my efforts, I’m now humbled to be listed along side world class IP lawyers and consultants, as well as IP heads from companies like Google, Amazon, Ford Motors, Nike, and Apple.  I’ve come far, but still have a long way to go!

My congratulations to all those that are on the list in 2016.

About the IAM Strategists 300: Over the course of several months, IAM researchers spoke to a wide range of leading IP professionals in order to identify people considered to be world-class IP strategists: men and women whose business is the creation, development and deployment of strategies that enable IP rights owners to gain maximum value from their portfolios. Only those individuals considered and nominated by their peers to be outstanding IP strategists are listed in the IAM Strategy 300. The IAM Strategy 300 is available in printed format and online at

A brief pause on IP Insights …

My apologies – all my writing drafts are with publishers!  Two articles and a book chapter somehow were written in the past few months, so will be back to  posted IP insights shortly.

If you have IAM Magazine access you can view my latest published IP strategy based article: How an innovation and IP value-chain view can transform portfolio value “While an IP portfolio built on business value chain can have strategic value, companies should take a closer look at how strong links between intellectual property and innovation can expand a portfolio’s breadth and depth”