Patent-focused businesses are pushing for better IP
integration in their businesses by improving awareness of the
importance on intangible assets, according to in-house
The awareness push is being driven by a need to better
protect the company's assets, mitigate risk, and generally
establish IP consideration among staff for specific
business-critical projects and day-to-day processes.
Sources say they are achieving heightened IP awareness by
better communicating with business leaders, project heads and
inventors, and educating them about the importance of IP.
"It is important that we have a vision for our IP and that
everyone in the business is aware of it and can contribute
towards it," says the chief IP officer of an aerospace company.
He adds that staff members each have other things to think
about and it is up to his team to ensure IP is embedded into
their thought processes.
Establishing a forum between department heads and business
leaders is a vital component of a good IP awareness strategy.
In-house sources say that is patent managers can communicate
the importance of IP to top-level managers they can more easily
get buy-in for IP integration into key strategies and
"It is important that we have a vision for our IP and
that everyone in the business is aware of it and can
contribute towards it"
The chief IP officer at an aerospace company says his
department shares its visions and successes with top management
through a dedicated IP committee. The committee meets regularly
and includes the CEOs of the group’s main
companies, the equity vice-presidents in charge of technical,
legal and international affairs, and other important
"It is an excellent forum and the most important component
in our integration strategy," he says, adding that it is a
particularly useful tool for large companies with multiple
levels of management.
The head of IP at a global steel manufacturer says it is
important to use these committees to demonstrate how patent
protection has helped generate revenue or mitigate risk. He
demonstrates these successes by measuring patent progress by
key performance indicators, which are presented to chief
technical officers and research and development heads in
quarterly and annual reports.
The aerospace chief IP officer adds that it is also
important to communicate such successes and developments
directly to the people creating IP, which the IP department can
do through internal newsletters and posts on the
The IP director at a chemicals company adds that his company
has a similar committee, and that it is also a good forum to
talk about IP developments and how departments can better align
their tactics and projects.
"You can keep stakeholders up to date, emphasise the good
work that the department has been doing and, most importantly,
talk about how you can work together in the future," he
He adds that managers and leaders can coordinate their
strategies around projects such as building up patent
portfolios in markets or jurisdictions where the business plans
launch its products or services in the next five to 10
The aerospace chief IP officer says the committee can also
be used to help co-ordinate strategies on larger, one-off
projects, such as a merger or acquisition. The IP department
can work with the project leader to conduct due diligence on
the new business’s portfolio and look at how to
best transfer those rights.
Getting top management and inventor buy-in for IP
integration will also help patent managers better spread IP
awareness among employees.
The IP director for a food tech company says one of her main
challenges has been getting non-IP employees to understand what
is potentially patentable. She says that because the
company’s inventors are so skilled in their
particular field, they assume that most of what they create is
"[The IP committee] is an excellent forum and the most
important component in our integration strategy"
"We have to remind them that while the invention might seem
obvious to them, it might not to others skilled in the field.
It is all about teaching them and making them aware that
anything they do might be patentable."
The vice-president of IP at a biotechnology company shares
this challenge, and adds this assumption can lead to innovation
leakage if inventors unwittingly talk about their latest
discovery with counterparts, at conferences or in journals.
She adds that the company regularly engages with its
scientists so that they understand the value of IP and that
early disclosure of innovations cannot be permitted.
"We make sure we educate them so they understand it is not
acceptable to chat about their latest innovations in the lunch
queue at a conference because it may lead to IP leakage," she
says. "We try to employ the carrot rather than the stick
– creating awareness is a process of collaboration
rather than lecture."
The business has implemented solutions to help in this
process, including a public disclosure requests system that is
used to clarify whether a project can be spoken about openly or
whether it should be kept confidential while the patent
department works to protect it.
The biotech vice-president adds that this sort of
communication is also important for IP harvesting. She says
having IP experts sitting in the project teams, influencing
decisions and constantly educating inventors means the company
can identify more opportunities for patent protection.
"This works particularly well in a small company such as
ours," she says. "I used to work in big pharma in a situation
where I would dial in once a month with the project team and
wait for scientists to tell the team when they’d
invented something, so we were probably missing 90% of the
things we could have been protecting."
The global steel company head of IP says that a good way to
establish IP awareness among inventors in large companies is to
set up IP workshops, where inventors are asked to write down
their ideas and are given the opportunity to draft them into a
"We try to employ the carrot rather than the stick
– creating awareness is a process of
collaboration rather than lecture"
Heightened awareness of IP can also help businesses identify
competitor infringement of the company’s patents.
The food tech IP director points out that if inventors,
strategists and marketers have a better understanding of IP and
know what the business has protected recently, they can more
easily identify and report potential infringements when they
come across them.
The end goal of spreading IP awareness, of course, is to get
staff to a point where IP is embedded into staff thought
processes. The IPR manager of an abrasives company has
successfully embedded IP considerations into the project
"IP is now a part of everything we do, from product launches
to when we start new projects," he says."
The vice-president of IP at a technology business adds that
education is no longer a big concern for his company because
most of its inventors have been with the business for 20 years
and there is little left to teach them.
Of course, not all companies have such high retention levels
and will need to keep awareness projects going