New UK Report Focuses on Manufacturing Strategies to Protect and Leverage IP

DMH Stallard, a law firm with offices in London and Gatwick, has commissioned a timely report on the “challenges faced by manufacturers over protecting data and intellectual property in the age of globalization,” with an aim to develop recipes for leveraging IP to create long-term value. The Report, called Plan, Protect and Prosper, results from in depth interviews of key executives from different parts of the manufacturing sector. We will make the Report available on the Free Resources page of our revised resource center Web site next week (we will provide the link then).  For now, here are some of the author’s steps to IP success in manufacturing. For those of you who are regular to this blog, you know when IP is used in studies like this, we feel it applies to Intangible Property (broadly inclusive of Intellectual Property), as the importance of intangibles not officially attached to legal rights is too often neglected, much to the party’s regret; the authors of the study appear to think the same way, though they make no such delineation.

1. Value your IP. No surprise here.  You cannot know where you want to go until you know where you are. Proper allocation of future investments in growth, how much to spend on protection strategies, how to staff and market, etc., all start with current value. Measuring growth and/or setting growth goals can only result from knowledge of a value baseline.

2. Audit and record IP. We’re glad this is here, but we think it is ordinally misplaced. If you were to ask IPMetrics, an IP consulting firm in San Diego, they would agree with the overall emphasis placed on IP value, but they would list the steps as “Inventory, Audit, Triage.” Mike Moberly, BVR’s Executive Editor, IP Value Publishing, speaks often of “locating, unbundling,” and recording , which is presumably what it would take to perform IPMetrics’ inventory. It stands to reason:  how would you value an organization’s IP without first excavating and evaluating what is there?

Daryl Martin, Managing Principal at IPMetrics, thinks the key to the beginning processes is “evaluation.” He feels very strongly proper “evaluation” must precede proper “valuation;” in fact, it is prerequisite.

As a discreet step in the Report, the authors issue the important reminder to manufacturers that the inventorying stage should not neglect manufacturing processes.

3. Use a multi-layered approach.  Here the authors encourage manufacturers to look at the whole of what they have and consider multiple protection strategies.

4. Create natural barriers. This is a hugely instructive section as there are many ways unique to manufacturing to engineer barriers to competitive entry.

5. Protect yourself from unscrupulous customers. The magnitude of industrial espionage is as great today as ever before, mainly because of the growth in cyber-espionage.  Mr. Moberly’s consulting company, Knowledge Protection Strategies, is built upon the critical need to prophylactically insulate valuable intangible assets, so we are pleased to see emphasis on this step.

6. Collaborate and work in partnerships with overseas contractors. This is a critical step to succeeding with today’s globalization. It does not come without risk, however, as we have written about before.