Are you putting intellectual property (IP) to work for your company? Those at the helm of both large and small companies recognize that safeguarding patented assets is crucial to developing and maintaining a competitive edge. In fact, 70 percent of business leaders who participated in a market research on patent attitudes study last year believe patents are good for innovation. And yet only one quarter of those decision makers feel patent savvy.

While you don’t necessarily need to be a patent expert, there are plenty of IP resources to help you and your fellow C-suite executives confidently evaluate your company’s IP strategy. To kick off a patent strategy discussion at your next board meeting, start with these five tips from IP-savvy sources:

Assess Your Company’s IP Awareness
The first step to understanding how IP can help your businesses succeed is to assess the overall awareness of your IP portfolio — or lack thereof. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) offers an online tool — The Intellectual Property Awareness Assessment — that covers categories ranging from IP strategies and best practices to international IP rights. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all there is to consider when it comes to intellectual property, this is a good place to start.

Learn What Can Be Patented
While you’re visiting the USPTO, you’ll notice they have a virtual treasure trove of resources for individual and corporate innovators alike, including tips on what can and can’t be patented. No matter what business you’re in — from wireless communications to healthcare — the products and business methods your company is innovating could become valuable sources of revenue and competitive advantage. Are you considering which of your business assets is patentable?

Keep Current on IP Law
A patent attorney will be your greatest asset, but there is some hope available for the rest of us laymen. For members of the C-suite, IPWatchdog is a blog to bookmark. Ranked one of the top 100 legal blogs by the American Bar Association, the site provides a wealth of information on the business, policy, and substance of patents and other IP. 

Own Your Intellectual Property
As soon as your company begins to develop a product or a business plan around an invention, you are creating IP. Entrepreneur suggests that the IP your company is developing should belong to the business — not the individuals behind the invention — where it can create value for the company.

And a few bonus tips from Entrepreneur: “Why Protecting Intellectual Property is Crucial to Business Success on 5 Counts.

Develop a Patent Strategy
Now that you’ve protected your company’s inventions, how do you generate a return on your significant investment? For example, a CEO of a VC-backed start-up may look at how building a strong patent portfolio weighs substantially in their company’s favor at IPO, or a CFO may source new R&D funding by divesting assets that are no longer strategic to the company. Either way, the right patent investments can play an important role in increasing the bottom line.

Becoming better informed on patent strategy is valuable, but there is also a growing industry of experts putting patents to work for the C-suite as well. Learn more about C-suite patent strategies and resources available through Intellectual Ventures


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