IP Strategy – Getting Started

by Thomas Frasher on October 2, 2009

Intellectual Property Strategy

This article is a three part article on the need for a cohesive strategy for creating, developing, protecting and managing your companies intellectual property.

In previous articles I illustrated the ways to protect your intellectual property in the United States by availing yourself to the US Patent and Trademark Office. These articles were the beginning of the process. In this first part of a three part series I will cover the importance of creating a comprehensive Intellectual Property Strategy that will protect your market and your investment. As I have said many times before you need help to do this! And, you need the best help you can get! That said again, lets dive in!

Review of Concepts:

Let’s first review some basics:

1. What is a patent? A patent is a legal monopoly granted by the government to exploit your intellectual property for a specified time. A patent can cover a device, a process or any composition of matter created by a human being. It must
be novel and non-obvious and it cannot have already been rejected.

2. Types of patents: There are three types of patents in the US: Utility, Design and Plant. Utility patents cover most things that have function, design patents cover the outward appearance and plant patents cover asexually
reproduced plants. In the interest of full disclosure I have never worked on an Plant patent, nor do I know anyone that has, if that is your forte’ good luck and you are on your own.

3. What is a copyright?  A copyright is a law or laws that gives you ownership of the things your create. These are generally creative works including but not limited to: books, pictures, poetry, paintings, photographs and the like. The copyright gives you the right to reproduce the creation, distribute, create derivatives, perform or otherwise display publicly the work you have created.

4. What is a Trademark? A trademark is a type of intellectual property comprised of a distinctive symbol, sign or indicator used by an individual, business or other legal entity to help the consumers of the product or service
distinguish between themselves and others.

Need for a IP Strategy:

A cohesive IP strategy provides several things all are protective.

1. A strategy provides the direction for new development

2. A strategy provides the boundaries where your innovation can flourish without the intellectual and more importantly financial distractions can be reigned in.

3. A strategy defines where you specifically are going and also importantly where you are not going.

All these together save your business cash, time and effort while protecting your marketplace, your brand and your time.

Getting Started:

The get started developing any strategy you must first know your ultimate goal, until this is achieved you are working only with tactics, working without purpose; this is especially true when working with Intellectual Property, a mis-designed strategy will lead to wasted effort, resources and lost time.

Strategy must also be discerned from tactics, a distinction that many fail to understand. Strategy is the plan of actions, practices, roles and situations that must be produced to reach the ultimate goal. Tactics are the individual actions, practices, roles and situations that are performed in support of the Strategy to reach the ultimate goal, tactics may include interim goals along the way. That said the first step is to decide on your ultimate goal. Be specific; remember you are designing the future, so it’s big stuff you are doing here. With IP tactics include finding a good IP attorney, organizing your portfolio, determining your product roadmap, writing disclosures, working with developers, working with clerks and writing. All of the above items require you to get help.

Do It!

Step 1. Design your Ultimate Goal (i.e. Create A IP Portfolio for protecting and exploiting …..)

Step 2. List all the tactics needed to achieve that goal. (i.e. contact IP attorney, setup meetings, write disclosure, ….)

Spend quality time on Step 1, this is the most important step. The more clearly you define the strategy the more you will be able to see if your tactics are betraying your intention and you can correct to maintain alignment of your tactics to your ultimate goal.

Thomas_Frasher This article was contributed by Thomas Frasher, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Thomas on Twitter at tfrasher.
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