Understanding Your IP Position: Fostering a Culture of IP Awareness
In our previous article, we discussed the vital importance of understanding your IP position as an ongoing step toward the alignment of your IP strategy with your overall business strategy. For business leaders in most industries, the value of your enterprise in today’s innovation marketspace relies on the strength of your intellectual property and the protective infrastructure in place around these assets.
In performing an audit of your intangible assets, what becomes clear is that IP goes far beyond the purview of merely your legal team. In a fully aligned organization, IP-aware stakeholders work throughout your enterprise, from departments as diverse as R&D and marketing, with a culture that is led by corporate leadership who recognize the critical value that’s at stake.
Further, if you’ve done a thorough assessment of your IP position, you will have also identified gaps in your portfolio and other areas of weakness within your IP strategy that can lead to a broader evaluation of the decision-making processes and protocols around the protection of your assets.
The next step in your development as an IP-aligned organization is to begin fostering an enterprise-wide culture of IP awareness such that everyone within your company’s innovation ecosystem possesses a mindset rooted in the understanding of the value and importance of your intangible assets, and is armed with the tools and incentives they need to effectively carry out their roles in your IP strategy.
In this article, we’ll explore the ways in which an innovation enterprise successfully fosters a broader culture of IP awareness, and how to promote engagement with your IP goals to help strengthen long-term value and growth.
One of the most crucial actions you can take to marshal your innovation stakeholders around the goal of ingrained IP awareness is the establishment of an Innovation Committee. This committee is a cross-disciplinary forum in which representatives from all relevant areas of your enterprise – including executive-level leadership, R&D, legal, and marketing – can gather around the common undertaking of ensuring your company’s IP strategy integrates with your overarching business strategy. Such a committee eliminates barriers between departments, collectivizing them around the goal of promoting innovation and increasing IP awareness.
The work of an Innovation Committee can begin around the tasks covered in our previous article, including the review and management of IP assets, shoring up IP-specific language establishing ownership rights found in various contracts, and implementing ongoing landscape and whitespace analysis of IP activity in the broader marketplace.
From there, the committee can institute and direct the actions necessary to the strength of the invention and brand protection pipeline, including protocols around the capture, documentation, and protection of IP assets during the development phase, as well as the proper inventor incentivization. The committee will also be responsible for maintaining an ongoing IP education curriculum wherein every department represented on the committee oversees a progressive IP awareness initiative for their relevant teams.
Capture, Protect, Incentivize
Understanding IP as a key revenue driver for your enterprise is a central motivator for the methodical and comprehensive management of your IP development. Especially at the earliest stages of invention or brand development, establishing and maintaining clear protocols around the capture and protection of nascent intellectual property assets is vital to your company’s advancement in your market.
In order to secure your IP at its inception, innovators within your R&D division will need clear guidelines and processes to follow to document their work via invention disclosure forms. As an asset enters your innovation pipeline it should be subject to a systematized review process, designed out of your IP strategy, and overseen by key members of your Innovation Committee who can assess its value in light of the business’s goals.
For the most consistent outcomes, inventors should be incentivized appropriately in order to boost morale, spur innovation, and attract top talent into your organization. A well-executed reward program that employs a balanced combination of financial and recognition incentives encourages your developers to feel that their role in the company’s success is valuable and appreciated.
Professional Development Curriculum
Ensuring your inventors and other innovation stakeholders are conscious of their own importance in furthering your IP strategy, they will need to engage with a sustained program of education focused on their specific role regarding your company’s IP goals. An ongoing professional development curriculum focused on nurturing company-wide IP awareness will undergird your company’s objectives toward greater market share and increased revenue.
End-to-end IP education must be comprehensive and continuous. R&D teams should be made aware of both what inventions are patentable and how to properly document them. Legal teams will benefit from staying up to date around strategies for managing IP portfolios, shoring up ownership rights, and overseeing the enterprise’s innovation pipeline. Marketing teams need guidance around brand protection in the marketplace, while executive leadership will gain from a deeper understanding of how to grow an IP-aligned enterprise and how to better leverage, monetize, and enforce their intangible assets.
Fostering a culture of IP awareness throughout your enterprise pays dividends in terms of your broader business ambitions. Led by an empowered Innovation Committee, an IP-aware team can be tasked with defined objectives to help them carry out their part in your IP strategy, allowing you to leverage your IP assets to their fullest potential, driving revenue and growth.
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.