IP Strategy Document that Amazes Investors
The goal of this post is to describe how to prepare an Intellectual Property (IP) strategy document that shows your company is an IP expert. According to the book The Invisible Edge: Taking Your Strategy to the Next Level Using Intellectual Property, IP is the most important “sustainable competitive advantage.” There are numerous types of intellectual property, but this post is going to focus mainly on patents and trade secrets, because these types of intellectual property protect a company’s innovation. Innovation is the most important method of creating a sustainable competitive advantage. Innovating without protecting the innovation with patents or trade secrets is charity according to the authors of The Invisible Edge.
Align your patents with your sales and marketing initiatives
Patents are marketing and sales tools they are not technology tools. Economically, patents are a method of capitalizing the costs associated with R&D. However, the goal of patents for a company is to create a marketing or sales advantage by creating a barrier to entry. For more information on how to align you patent strategy with your marketing and sales goals, see “Use Your Unique Selling Points to Improve Your Patent Portfolio”. In your IP strategy document you need to be able to articulate how your patent strategy is aligned with your sales and marketing initiatives.
Use competitive analysis to spot opportunities in the market
Any company that wants to build a patent portfolio that dominates their marketplace needs to first undertake a competitive patent analysis. This analysis will spot areas of opportunity to obtain patents that will be landmines for your competitors. It will also point out any potential landmines that you have to avoid. Usually, it is easier to avoid problem patents early in your development effort, than after your product is designed and deployed. For more information see “Competitive Analysis and Patent Portfolios”. In your IP strategy document you need to be able to explain the patent competitive landscape and how you will exploit the gaps in the landscape.
Create a roadmap for a building a patent portfolio that dominates your marketplace
Building a market dominating patent portfolio requires brainstorming about your invention(s) on multiple levels. You need to think about all the inventions your team has or will create at the system level, at the component level, at the subcomponent level, and super-system level. Almost no companies think about covering the super-system level of inventions, which provides your company with a significant advantage. For more information see “How to Build a Patent Portfolio that Dominates Your Marketplace”. In the IP strategy document you need to explain how you are going to build a patent portfolio that dominates your marketplace.
Due Diligence Issues
The final part of your IP strategy document should cover the standard due diligence issues. For instance, one section should list all the intellectual property the company owns and the documentation showing that the company has title to each of these pieces of intellectual property and all maintenance fees and other maintenance issues have been handled. This section should include all the patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets owned by the company. Next, any licenses that the company has to any intellectual property should be listed along with a copy of the actual license. If the company has developed any software, it is important to show that the software does not include any outside software including open source software. A copy of all the invention assignment forms from the technical employees should also be included. If there are any joint ownership issues with people outside the company, the rights need to be explained and how this may impact the company.
Most investors approach IP as a checklist issue in their due diligence. By creating an IP strategy document along these lines, your company will blow away investors and have a leg up over other companies vying for investment dollars.
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