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.”
From this point, with the information you now have, there are several steps you can take to ensure you’re always on top of the intellectual property strategy at your company. We’ll provide a checklist at the end to walk you through the process.
In the meantime, ask the management team to produce a dashboard that provides the information management uses to assess the company’s overall health, especially as it relates to IP. Don’t tell them what questions you are interested in; the purpose of the initial dashboard is to provide you with insight into what management is thinking is important and if and how they are measuring things.
Once they provide the dashboard they believe you want to see, the Board can work with management to include additional information for a broader view. You can now ask the questions we have discussed. What are they working on? What technology are they developing? How much time will these new developments take? What technology should they acquire, whether through portfolio acquisition or through making it? Who else is currently in the technology space? Is the company applying for patents early and often to avoid disruption from competitors? These questions help management and the Board establish an appropriate framework for the company’s strategy.
You now know how to determine the strength of your current intellectual property, and how to assess IP you intend to acquire. You’re aware of how long various IP strategy decisions can take, making planning for now and for the future easier. You have a Rosetta Stone for your patents so that you can map all of your intellectual property not just to the products you currently produce, but also the technology your competitors own. Lastly, you can now determine if your company’s patents are even “good.”
Before we present the checklist to help you stay on track with your company’s IP, we want to reiterate one important point: apply for patents for your research and development early and often. Remember that the first to innovate isn’t necessarily the winner anymore; the first to patent that innovation is. Don’t let your competitors beat you to the punch and steal years of hard work and millions of development dollars by waiting too long to apply for patents.
We understand that many of the tasks contained within this series require specialized tools—that or months of time dedicated only to analysis. When you reach the point where you need assistance with patent analysis, we’re here. We can drastically reduce the time and effort you’ll need to spend finding the answers you seek.
We’ll release a full ebook version of this series soon, complete with the following checklist. Please feel free to download the ebook and checklist—they’re free—so you can refer to them whenever you need.