Issue #3-1 | August 11, 2011

NPEs take a reputation hit on NPR

Recently, National Public Radio has aired some segments which opponents suggest convey an agenda to discredit non-practicing entities, particularly, the leading NPE Intellectual Ventures.
This topic has received attention elsewhere, but the NPR piece caught a lot of attention—and then parts of it spread to other programs.  The program originally aired on This American Life, was repeated in part on All Things Considered, and then received written coverage in Planet Money’s Blog.

Joff Wild, editor of IAM magazine and Chair of the recently held Intellectual Property Business Congress, (where NPR correspondents interviewed attendees, stated in IAM’s blog that “those who dislike the NPR pieces should think carefully about the message that comes across and about the way in which it was received by those who knew nothing about the issue (NPE’s) before these broadcasts.”

Thomas Ewing, a consultant with Avancept, and no particular fan of NPE’s, was interviewed by NPR.  Mr. Ewing responded to Mr. Wild’s post stating, “If the…story did not turn out well for Intellectual Ventures, then it’s no one’s fault but IV’s.” 

IPVW readers may be split on how they feel about NPEs—but the risk to reputation is real, and can result in significant IP value damage.  Those concerned about this issue can tune into Dr. Nir Kossovsky’s upcoming BVR webinar titled Reputation: Business Case For IP Professionals.

Classen article continues support for the chief intellectual property officer title

H. Ward Classen, Deputy General Counsel of Computer Sciences Corporation, offered some great insight into the ongoing push for the chief intellectual property officer recently with his article in the Daily Record.  Classen believes the CIPO function should come under the auspices of the general counsel’s office.

…implementing and funding a robust IP program will likely increase a company’s revenue and margin while differentiating its products in the marketplace. By helping employers identify, develop and exploit intellectual property, corporate counsel can often create unrealized value and, possibly, turn the legal department into a profit center. As intellectual property continues to grow in importance, corporate counsel’s value to a corporation will increasingly be measured by his or her ability to exploit the value of this key asset.
Two Intellectual Asset Management (IAM) put the CIPO issue in context:

The first article was the noteworthy result of the initial meeting of IAM’s CIPO Manifesto Working Group at the 2009 Intellectual Property Business Conference.

The CIPO Working Group said their initiative represents:

a shift towards viewing IP as something that is a lot more than a few narrowly defined legal rights.  Instead, as IP value creation and management become more mainstream concepts, a growing number of senior IP professionals find themselves not only looking after everything their predecessors did, but also taking on many more responsibilities that include:

  • staying abreast of regulatory and political IP issues nationally and internationally
  • keeping current with the latest IP management thinking and financing techniques
  • talking to shareholders and analysts about their companies’ IP strategies
  • ensuing IP strategy is aligned with overall corporate strategy
  • focusing not only on IP, but intellectual assets and intellectual capital as well

And, one of the standard overviews of this critical “emerging role of the CIPO” issue comes from Ron Laurie and Rob Stern’s excellent webinar.

New WIPO and ICC handbook—and other resources…to make intellectual property work for your business…

A new Handbook jointly produced by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is available to help businesses access IP asset management expertise and services. IPVW readers will find the Guide a useful supplement (along with the increasing number of IP-related webinars BVR offers, of course!).

IPVW welcomes the fact that the Guide acknowledges IP and intangibles as dominant sources of most company’s value and revenue.  IP and intangibles are in play in most business transactions.

IPVW readers are also reminded of some other fantastic resources for IP leaders:

Inovia study assesses the foreign filing strategies of US patent owners

Inovia, a foreign patent filing platform, conducted a survey of 150 U.S. companies to assess the impact of the U.S. economy on global IP strategy.  Their US IP Trends Report is an in-depth look at the foreign filing strategies of U.S. patent owners. The survey found U.S. patentees have become more selective and judicious about their global patent filing strategy.  While 45% of respondents filed more than half of their patent applications overseas, they filed in an average of only 6 countries. 

SME’s filing a single patent family to multinationals filing more than 1000 patent families are represented in the survey, from the following industries:

  • 01% - Business/finance
  • 14% - Chemicals/materials
  • 19% - Electrical/electronics
  • 08% - IT/software/media
  • 19% - Mechanical/engineering
  • 23% - Pharmaceuticals/biotech
  • 16% - University/association/non-profit

A majority of the respondents cited “cost containment” and/or “USPTO reform” as the most important strategic topic for the IP industry.

Overall, the mood of the respondents was mixed. Some cited improvements in their company, industry, or ability to file as many or more patent applications at the same or lower cost than previous years.  Respondents attributed these positives to workflow changes, vendor negotiations, and creative IP budget management techniques.

What’s important about your company’s IP…?

Not to keep quoting Joff Wild, Editor of Intellectual Asset Magazine (IAM), but he raised some great points in another post.  This was the result of questions he asked numerous speakers at the recent Intellectual Property Business Congress regarding their views on important IP-related issues.

His summary:

  • Why do you believe IP is an important corporate asset?
    • It is core to our ability to differentiate from competitors, sell premium products with healthy margins, and protect investment in R&D. 
    • If the prime objective of corporations is to sustainably generate and grow profits for shareholders, then the importance of any asset should be measured against their contribution to that objective.  Take a look up and down the balance sheet of any corporation and think about what assets they own that enable them to create and maintain an advantage against their competitors. What you will find is there are precious few assets that corporations hold that make any difference to their ability to compete. The glaring exception is IP! 
    • IP allows us to capture and share innovations and data and work with partners in a responsible manner.
    • IP is important as a defensive asset and my company does not want to be impeded in fulfilling its mission by those wielding IP as an offensive weapon.

  • When you think of the term IP value, what does it mean to you?
    • This is a measure of what IP adds to the bottom line for a company, the problem is, measuring it!
    • I think of IP value as a strategic concept measured by how IP contributes to the company’s long term goals and protects it from disruptions. 
    • IP is difficult to quantify, but if our IP can serve and protect our company’s businesses and allow the company to achieve its mission, then we have achieved high IP value.
  • What do you believe is the key issue in IP at the moment?  
    • Measuring IP value and communicating it to the c-suite.
    • It’s the need to eliminate the huge backlog of applications at the USPTO because the patent office is the biggest job creator they never heard of. 
    • It’s how quickly we can get to a place where senior management are as comfortable managing IP assets as they are managing the rest of their business.

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