Although the majority (about 60%) of the SMEs in Europe that registered an IPR believe in the positive or very positive impact in this action, many IP managers face challenges to get enough internal resources (manpower, money, awareness) to fulfill their goals and targets. This is due to IP rarely being a management, and almost never being a board strategic matter.
IP managers often only have limited time for managing IP, but feel the pressure on their shoulders to take the right strategic IP actions as well as being ahead of international filing activities in the technical field their company is active in. They are usually responsible for external IP communication e.g. with a patent lawyer. On top they often need to fight internally for IP awareness within their company and their management.
These challenges often go hand in hand with a lot of manual work, phone calls, meetings which are often not driven by well-organized internal processes.
Dimitris Giannoccaro is founder and CEO of IamIP. Prior to founding IamIP, he gained IP experience as a patent examiner in the Swedish Patent Office and as an R&D Project Manager and Development Engineer at ABB AB where the idea of founding IamIP was born.
He is an inventor of over 17 patents in the space of power systems. Dimitris loves to teach and train technology companies and IP managers how to make patent management processes more efficient.
Typical challenges of IP managers:
There is not enough time to fulfill the ambitious goals they set themselves as the tasks are diverse and the amount of data is constantly growing.
Understanding market and competitor trends and securing the freedom to operate:
Knowing their own markets, following their competitors and foreseeing potential threats is often one of the most important tasks of IP managers. Additionally, they need to ensure their freedom to operate.
Overseeing and protecting own developments:
Often companies pay for a patent portfolio that is not up to date and in line according to their actual commercial and/or strategic interests. Moreover, they are often not aware of further opportunities of valuable own patents that could e.g. be licensed out.
Creating good internal processes and workflows for managing R&D departments:
Changing a running system and the habits or workflows of the colleagues costs a lot of effort, persuasiveness and patience.
Patents are expensive. IP managers need to fight internally for enough investments in IP, which is challenging as those investments often pay out strongly delayed or only indirectly by securing their companies IP. It’s often very hard to measure the ROI of investments into IP as those are often based on assumptions e.g. in the cases where they block competitors. This is why unfortunately those decisions about investments in IP are often taken reactively rather than proactively.
Digitalization is one solution
Many of these challenges can be well addressed by good digital solution(s).
Time constraints can be tackled by digital workflows where manual inefficient work will be replaced by digital error minimizing and traceable workflows that allow for setting clear tasks, goals and timelines.
An automated monitoring will help understanding market and competitor trends in a much more structured way. With the increasing amount of data most companies cannot manually oversee patent activities of competitors, markets or technical fields. Additionally, keeping track of legal status changes is nowadays manually hardly possible. Good digital solutions help to be ahead of those activities and save a lot of manual time by likewise minimizing the risk of overseeing important patents. Easy to use but comprehensive searching capabilities including all relevant patent data worldwide are absolutely essential for providing good quality patent searches.
A good (graphical) analysis and accompanied internal processes of capturing own patent portfolios or other patent portfolios of interest in a specific field (competitor, market, etc.) helps overseeing and protecting own R&D activities. Actions can be decided more efficiently on well presented data and well-informed colleagues. This goes hand in hand with the ease of use of digital solutions. Once users like what they work with, it will be easier to convince them getting rid of their old habits and learn new and more efficient ways of communication by creating good internal processes and structured workflows.
At the end every tool should help IP managers optimize IP costs by reducing unnecessary expenditures, increasing efficiency and likewise increasing revenue by protecting or licensing IP.
Where to start? What can IP managers gain once those challenges are addressed thoroughly?
IP managers should start selling their ideas of digital patent management improvements internally early. They should highlight the importance and potential commercial advantages and try to increase the IP awareness in the management and board room. Optimally they should build a top down approach where IP becomes a board strategic matter.
IP managers should choose system(s) that addresses their needs. They should try to digitalize as much as possible. Before purchase, they should think about their needs and benchmark different tools on very clear goals, optimally connected to the potential investment.
Once a solution is purchased its crucial to implement IP awareness in order to train the R&D staff and everybody who is somehow connected to the new tool(s) on a regularly basis. The tool(s) are only as valuable as the users are educated in using them. It should be agreed upon clear rules how to use the software optimally and implement workflows efficiently. This often goes hand in hand with a general patent training, e.g. how patents (claims) can be analyzed and understood in a fast and efficient way.
To manage the process of digital transformation is a challenging task which should not be underestimated. However, most companies experience an extreme efficiency boost, a strengthened IP awareness throughout the whole organization as well as a significant overall cost reduction once they decided to digitalize all or parts of their IP workflows.
If you face similar problems connected to this article and want to find out more how digitalization of IP workflows can help medium-sized companies and global organizations, take the opportunity to join a unique workshop at the IP Service World 2019, where we will go into detail in the IamIP platform and show how easy, efficient and at the end enjoyable the usage of a state-of-the-art patent platform can be.
Trusted by the world’s most innovative companies, IamIP’s patent management software provides a secure, web-based platform for centrally managing and searching all published patents worldwide – from the published individual patents to setting up patent monitoring, sharing, commenting, watching legal status, collaborating and more.
With robust patent analytics, IP departments and business units can make informed strategic decisions about what, where and when to take important action; i.e. filing a patent application opposition, patent infringement cases, acquire a company or technology, or to develop a new technology.