Regardless how long you’ve served as a member of the Board of Directors for your company, you may have seen some information here that you had never before considered. As we said from the beginning, intangible assets such as intellectual property are often overlooked—though less now than ever before. Our hope is that we not only introduced some information that can help you as you serve as a Board member, but also that we provided the “why.”
To this point, we have discussed the importance of IP and the high level questions a Board of Directors should ask Management about the company’s intellectual property. These questions cover a wide range, believe it or not. It’s never so simple as simply knowing which patents the company holds, though many Boards leave even that much to the IP lawyers. First, there’s the deep dive into research and development, which questions such as:
Now that many countries have lifted quarantining restrictions, the news in the world of IP focuses on how people can get from here to there. Hopefully, they will do so safely, or we’ll have to get back into vaccine watch. Here’s where the transportation industry is going.
Let’s return now to the mental image of a piece of real estate. If your parcel of real estate is “landlocked” because someone else owns all of the adjacent property, you have no way of reaching your parcel unless you and the other landowner reach an agreement to provide an easement, or a license to cross the land.
We have discussed the importance of intellectual property and the questions that Boards of Directors should ask about their company’s IP. These questions are really an “as is” assessment. What are we spending on R&D—actual and relative to competitors? Are we harvesting the output of R&D and turning it into intellectual property to benefit the stakeholders of the company? These questions are just the beginning.
To this point, we have discussed the importance of IP and the high level questions a Board of Directors should ask Management. These questions cover a wide range, believe it or not. It’s never so simple as simply knowing which patents the company holds, though many Boards leave even that much to the IP lawyers. We started with the deep dive into research and development, with questions such as:
It’s easy to assume that a company has a good process in place for determining what to patent. Unfortunately, this is often not the case—even for large companies with resources. Certainly, some inventions should come from planned research and development.
Understanding how efficient the Company is in generating and capturing inventions is one measure but boards of directors should be asking if the Company is patenting the right things, i.e., what is the Company’s intellectual property strategy?
The question of the moment concerns technology pioneer, Apple. Will they boon or bust? Chances are they will be just fine, with a few hurdles to overcome first. And even though we may have thought we were closer to a corona vaccine than we actually are, all is not lost. We will still have dinosaurs on phones.