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The art of integrating your intellectual property strategy to maximize impact

Myriam Davdison of Stratford Group

Business strategy and strategic planning provides an opportunity to assess where a business is, where it wants to go, and develop objectives to get there. The business strategy will be supported by sub-strategies. To maximize impact, sub-strategies should be aligned and the inter-relationships between them strengthened.

All companies have intellectual property (IP). The type of assets and IP rights and how to leverage them will vary based on industry and business goals. The IP strategy needs to be holistic as these assets are usually disparate across departments and the tactics required cross-functional. Therefore, to increase value or opportunity and minimize risk to the business, the IP strategy needs integration in other sub-strategies.

IP and research & development (R&D) strategy

Applying an IP lens to the R&D strategy is the most implemented sub-strategy integration. Most IP focused organizations will at least use registerable IP rights. Implementing pragmatic IP identification, capturing, and actioning processes that cover all intangible assets and IP types will allow organization to leverage all their IP. Mitigating risk can be by leveraging technical and patent information sources. By identifying prior art earlier, it can inform the R&D road map to reduce time spent and unnecessary spend.

IP and product strategy

Applying an IP lens to product strategy – increasing value comes from the benefit of accelerated product development guided by understanding the constraints of third-party IP rights. By understanding the patent landscape of a technical field or a competitor, product development can bypass protected features that may not be implemented (without a license). Mitigating product risk can be applied during the procurement process by managing IP risk in the sourcing of bought-in components. For example, whether the supplier provides warranties or indemnifications regarding infringement and its impact on contingency planning.

IP and technology strategy

When applying an IP lens to technology strategy – organizations who incorporate artificial intelligence tools into processes effectively will create immense value. As user adoption has a very low barrier to entry, training on how to use them to generate value (and how not to use them) is crucial. To manage risk evaluating tools based on the terms of services and their IP implications should be undertaken.

IP and data strategy

When applying an IP lens to data strategy – increasing value can come from characterizing and prioritizing high impact data and data processes which are then protected with IP rights such as patents, trade secrets, or copyrights. IP risk in ownership of data and derivatives in licensing agreements can be minimized by addressing and clarifying it during contractual negotiations.

IP and people strategy

When applying an IP lens to people strategy – increasing value comes from leveraging innovative cultures. Psychological safety is paramount so that individuals feel secure coming forward with their ideas. This may also include Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) considerations. Innovation can also be incentivized, either through a monetary incentive program or social recognition. Risk of IP loss can be mitigated by training on how to handle confidential information. IP ownership risk can be reduced by implementing contracts and procedures ensuring ownership and assignment to the organization of IP developed by employees and contractors.

IP and marketing strategy

When applying an IP lens to marketing strategy – increasing value can be around communicating brand or innovative leadership while mitigating risk can be minimizing brand confusion through strong brand development and acting swiftly if knockoffs or similar brands appear.

IP and Information Technology (IT) strategy

When applying an IP lens to IT strategy – increasing value can be around ensuring that individuals and teams have access to the right information at the right time to accelerate innovation. This will require intentionality on information structure and supporting collaboration. Mitigating risk of targeted attack on confidential information should include implementing not only cybersecurity processes and rights management but also employee training on phishing techniques.

Bringing it all together

Harmonizing and integrating sub-strategies to support your business strategy will maximize impact. It may seem like a lot but focus on what can be implemented, rally the right team, and get started.

Need help applying an intellectual property strategy perspective to your business strategy and sub-strategy planning and implementation? The Stratford Intellectual Property team at Stratford Group Ltd. is happy to help.

About Myriam

An innovation strategist, Myriam Davidson specializes in intellectual property strategy, with a focus on data-driven decision making to advance business objectives, drive innovation, identify market opportunities, and minimize risk.

Starting with the end in mind, Myriam aligns developing a company’s IP strategy in service of the business strategy setting the company up on a path for continued growth and success. Myriam’s distinctive skills led to her ranking on the IAM Strategy 300 global list of Leading IP Strategists, an annual guide of individuals who have demonstrated the ability to deliver a world-class IP value creation service offering.