As we approach annual performance reviews and strategic planning milestones, we invariably focus upon management systems and metrics.
One of the most important themes that we observe in R&D and patent departments is that leading organizations are shifting from measures of patent “throughput” to measures of patent quality.
How often do you hear the phrase “if we cannot measure it we cannot manage it”? Or, think about how your organizations (or your clients) consider IP issues too late in their processes?
Is it perhaps that we fall into the trap of experts seeking a fundamental answer (I.E., is this patent valid and infringed) while the better question is to find directional indicators and measurements that support focused review, collaborative inquiry, and the advantage of unique insights and perspectives into broader business processes and decisions.
We have spent many years working with leading organizations to help them move patent considerations forward and into decision-making processes and business functions for R&D program management, corporate strategy, business development (particularly M&A), and risk management.
The common theme encountered is similar to a New Year’s fitness resolution – we know that we need to do this; however, we do not know how, we start (briefly), or we start and then fail to make our daily/weekly trip to the gym productive and useful.
It needn’t be:
- Start with your corporate strategy and existing core processes that drive innovation, current earnings and future revenue streams
- Look at your corporate calendar and find time to include a periodic review of key measurements and metrics that focus upon your qualitative position vs. bench-mark peers – and avoid the trap of thinking that quantity is the best measurement. (Although quantity is perhaps the easiest measure to obtain; recall that a "pile of bricks" is simply a pile of bricks and not a castle or well-constructed portfolio.)
- Think about measurements that focus upon generating insights into what you may not know.
Following are a few basic benchmark metrics that we find useful in a scheduled cross-functional patent planning:
- Patent portfolio position rating in comparison to peers (for larger firms, this should be broken down into core technology portfolios / sub-portfolios)
- Pace and range of inventiveness (note, we distinguish between “invention” and “innovation” which may or may not be correlated to one another depending upon the situation)
- The quality of newly granted patents (a first-level assessment of breadth and structure)
- Alerts for 'potential breakthrough' or ‘future seminal’ patents
- Identification of new references or citations to your existing portfolio, which may signal competitive developments or extension of your technology across a value chain
These programs provide meaningful returns including future revenue growth, increased productivity / returns from existing programs, and nearly certain cost savings by stimulating discussions around where corporate resources and budgets are applied.
A typical measure and review process includes the following schedule:
- Initial baseline bench-mark and assessment (1/2 day to full day)
- Quarterly update report with scheduled review session including legal and business representatives (1 - 4 hours)
- Annual update to baseline assessment (1/2 day to full day)
- Periodic interim alerts and discussions as developments merit or needs arise
The above image is one-page of a typical quarterly review. You can download a full-size PDF copy of this sample patent benchmark report page or contact us to request a patent bench-mark review for your firm. The payback includes tangible economic results and increased efficiency in moving towards your goals.