Half of the economic growth in industrial countries derives from innovations (Gassmann 2021: 4, 8). As a result, understanding of the significance of intellectual property (IP) rights and the value of patents has been growing during the past decades. Patents come into this picture since it is essential to protect innovations. However, protecting innovations and capturing the underlying value require a more strategic approach to Patent portfolio management.
Traditionally, patents have been seen as quite a costly investment, especially for small and midsized companies. But even if many companies invest in patenting, they are not always focusing on managing their patent portfolios strategically. Yet, if managed well, the value produced by patents will probably exceed the costs in the long run and will also prevent financial losses due to lack of IP protection.
Strategic Patent Portfolio Management Requires Commitment on All Organizational Levels
Patenting strategy should be clear and aligned with the general company strategy. Even more importantly, it should be implemented consistently within a company. This requires cooperation and commitment from different stakeholders, from multiple organizational levels. Here, the company culture and engagement of top management have vital impact. (Jell 2012: 115; Agostini et al 2023: 1055-1056.) When Patent portfolio management is run well, patents can bring such advantages as:
- Bringing in market revenues (e.g. from product-related patents)
- Blocking competitors from using the patented technology, which creates comparative competitive advantage
- Increasing the attractiveness of products in marketing
- Enhancing the company reputation
- Bringing in direct licensing revenue
- Opening access to patent pools and cross-licensing (Gassmann 2021: 10, Jell 2012: 11).
To capture the value of patents, different stakeholders, such as technical experts, product owners, business unit decision makers, and patent experts must collaboratively find answers to the questions like: Why is the patent sought? What are costs vs. benefits? How does the patent affect company´s main markets and competitor operations?
Intellectual Property Management Systems Facilitate Patent Management
Modern Intellectual Property Management System (IPMS) software offers multiple ways for facilitating patent management and make it more interactive for stakeholders. In practice, all the materials, documents, discussions, and decision can be stored within the IPMS in an easy and secure way. IPMS can also be used to keep all materials and decisions, and also the tacit knowledge behind the decisions available for all stakeholders and thus, making the patenting process smoother and more transparent. At the same time, utilizing IPMS as a tool efficiently requires commitment from the stakeholders.
Process Development for a More Strategic Patent Management
The objective of my Master´s thesis was to improve the patenting process in the case company and increase the commitment of stakeholders by developing a consistent patenting process model. The thesis also discussed utilizing the advantages of a modern IPMS data platform in the context of a defensive patent strategy. The development proposal emphasized the significance of stakeholder training and engagement.
The process model which was developed as the outcome of my Master´s thesis offers a structured way to manage patenting process and gather important aspects to consider in each process phase. It also offers a model for evaluating patents during the patenting process, which was developed to meet the needs of the case company. Based on the thesis investigation, the data from each process phase was recommended to be gathered in the IPMS systematically, by utilizing visual tools which are available in the IPMS.
The case company approved all the outcomes for implementation and started the change process towards new IPMS already during the final stages of the Master´s thesis. The full-scale implementation will follow early in 2024. The development proposal from the thesis helped the case company to make important commitment to the implementation of a new, more strategic and consistent patent management process.
About the author
Agostini, L., Nosella, A., & Holgersson, M. (2023). Patent management: The prominent role of strategy and organization. European journal of innovation management, 26(4), 1054-1070. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1108/EJIM-09-2021-0452 (Accessed 21 September 2023)
Gassmann. (2021). Patent Management. Springer International Publishing (e-book). Available from: https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.metropolia.fi/book/10.1007/978-3-030-59009-3 (Accessed 18 February 2023)
Jell, F. (2012). Patent Filing Strategies and Patent Management. Gabler Verlag. (e-book) Available from: https://link-springer-com.ezproxy.metropolia.fi/book/10.1007/978-3-8349-7118-0#toc (Accessed 18 February 2023)
Huusko, J. 2023 Management and Evaluation of Patent Portfolio in the Context of Defensive Patent Strategy – Development of a Consistent Model for Collecting and Analysing Data Using a Modern Data Platform as a Tool. Metropolia UAS, Master´s thesis, 94 pages. Available from: https://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:amk-2023112231005