Editor’s Note: This is part seven of a series entitled “Building an IP Aligned Enterprise: A Guide for Corporate and Technology Leaders.” We will examine how to create a cross-functional IP educational curriculum for your organization.


As your innovation-driven technology enterprise grows, one of the most important pieces of corporate cultural infrastructure you need to foster is company-wide IP awareness as a foundational element to a well-defined overall IP alignment strategy. Without a continuing emphasis on this vital aspect of your alignment strategy, awareness entropy will edge its way in, putting the value of your IP assets at risk.

The most effective way to perennially strengthen IP awareness, and to maintain and encourage the execution of your overall IP strategy, is to institute a rigorous IP education curriculum as a part of the regular working rhythm of your organization. The nucleus of your company’s valuation and market share are your IP assets, so emphasizing their protection through a consistent program of IP awareness education for all innovation and brand stakeholders is vitally important to the future of your business.

The overarching strategic benefits to advancing IP awareness through a fully integrated, regular curriculum are many. A few critical goals include:

  • Creating a finely woven net to capture all patentable innovation as it emerges from your development teams.
  • Increasing and improving the protection of your well-guarded IP assets to grow your market position and increase bottom-line revenue.
  • Assessing the IP landscape to both help shape and direct innovation within your organization and to identify potential infringement of your IP assets.
  • More fully integrating your IP goals into your business strategy

Creating & Implementing Your IP Education Curricula

In-house legal counsel at technology enterprises would do well to work with their outside counsel to develop curricula tailored for the different perspectives of the departments and stakeholders across the organization. We often first assess the state of IP awareness within the company at a micro level, identifying where any cross-functional knowledge gaps lie. 

For instance, we often find a pressing problem in many R&D departments is a lack of understanding around what exactly is patentable. Many times, inventors self-censor, believing their invention to be too obvious or simple, convincing themselves that someone else must have already done it. This is how valuable IP assets fall through the cracks at the moment of inception.

To counteract issues like this, your outside counsel should engage with your legal team as key members of your Innovation Committee to design curricula that targets costly knowledge gaps like these. These sessions can be presented as department-specific onsite conferences, “lunch and learn” seminars, and private webinars that help to foster widespread buy-in to your overall IP alignment strategy.

IP Education Strategies For Innovation Stakeholders

The roles of the various stakeholders within your organization are diverse, and their professional development will depend on the specific needs of your particular innovation initiatives and where you are in the IP alignment process. 

Following are some broad recommendations for the kinds of education programs from which each crucial stakeholder set will benefit.

Executive Track

Your executive leadership team is the source from which your company’s culture of excellence and innovation springs. Therefore, it is vitally important that your C-level principals are cross-trained to understand the various areas where IP alignment is most important. They will need to be up to date on IP protection protocols, strategies to leverage, monetize, and enforce their assets, and the methods for monitoring their competitors’ IP activities. Further, they’ll need to understand the importance of a rigorous Innovation Committee, and how to form and manage one.

R&D Track

Given that the innovation assets you want to protect are generated by the inventors and developers in your company’s R&D wing, it only makes sense that these teams are given particular attention in the wider IP education curriculum. 

For your R&D stakeholders themselves, a solid IP awareness education program is central to capturing and protecting innovation at every stage of development, ensuring your IP is safeguarded from its inception. They should be trained in the ability to identify innovations that are novel and patentable, and to write effective invention disclosures.

Legal Track

Your IP counsel team stands as both your frontline against vulnerabilities to your IP assets, and as the generals who coordinate and execute your offensive and defensive strategies to protect your IP. They, more than any other stakeholders, will lead the charge in your efforts toward company-wide IP awareness and alignment.   

For this reason, your legal team will play an integral role in the development of all your IP awareness curricula. They are your subject-matter experts, but they also require ongoing training themselves.

Marketing Track

Your marketing team and brand managers create the public-facing messaging which sells your innovations to your customers and clients. They live at the end of the innovation funnel and are responsible for finding the elements of your products that make them attractive to the marketplace without divulging details about proprietary technology that could damage the integrity of your brand and the IP that supports it. 


While it’s important to provide your teams with the most up-to-date educational resources – subscribing to industry journals, sending them to professional conferences, and hosting workshops – those are only a beginning point. To create a culture of IP awareness within your company that will serve to protect your valuable IP assets, IP education should become a regular part of the workflow within all departments who have a stake in the innovation process, from executives and lawyers to engineers and product managers. 

Only through a robust, ongoing program of IP education can you ensure that all stakeholders recognize the considerable value of your IP assets, learn how to capture and protect them at every stage of the innovation funnel, and operate interdepartmentally as a codified and coherent innovation ecosystem.

                       Thomas DeFelice

This article is for informational purposes, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and may be considered advertising under applicable state laws. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are not necessarily shared by Dilworth IP, its other attorneys, agents, or staff, or its clients.