5 Factors to Evaluate An Idea Management Tool | IP Strategy

Evaluating an idea management tool

Logically speaking, any investment is worth only if it reaps great returns.

A study by Accenture suggests 62% percent of high-growth companies plan to invest in technologies that lead to higher rates of innovation, compared to 54% of other companies.

Investing in technologies that lead to higher rates of innovation shall be beneficial only if the intellectual property created based on the innovation aligns with:

a) company’s business goals/product line.

b) has a market demand.

c) has the potential to be monetized either by licensing or selling.

d) enhances customer experience.

e) generates revenue growth.

After all, filing a single patent costs a minimum of USD 10,000.

Not sure about the cost of getting IP protection for your product or company? Here is everything you need to know about costs related to your IP in the USA.

Now, where is the scope of failure in creating IP wealth for the company?

1. Patent creation was not thought of from different angles like feasibility, demand, investment, etc.

2. Collaborators from the various segments did not participate in the journey from idea to patent.

3. Redundancy in the novelty of a patent gets caught at a later stage.

All this happens due to the absence of the right tool/software that can assure strategic collaboration and tracking.

So, as a patent portfolio manager of your company, an innovation tracking software tailored to your needs shall be an asset.

A tool that addresses each stage of the journey of an idea to patent as shown below:

Idea Management Process Triangle IP

Here are the 5 factors you should consider while you evaluate an idea management tool:

1. Is the tool easy to use?

2. Is the tool engaging to attract collaborators?

3. Does the tool provide real-time updates?

4. Does the tool manage the process throughout the life-cycle (Idea to Patent)?

5. Does the software keep evolving and getting more sophisticated?

Is the Idea Management Tool Easy to Use?

There is a good possibility that you might have used one of the following ways to manage ideas at your company:

1. Spreadsheets

2. CRM Software

3. Home grown tools comprising forms and tabular data

4. Collaboration tools

5. Expensive Docketing Software

The biggest shortcoming of these solutions is the complexity to use.

Nobody likes to fill long forms. Don’t you agree?

As the number of ideas, collaborators increase, tracking the updates on ideas/innovations becomes tricky and painful.The above mentioned methods are just makeshift arrangements, and not specifically designed keeping user experience in mind.

These tools lack intuitiveness and broad adoption across the enterprise. A user does not feel motivated to use the tool unless really needed. It’s the same as using a handkerchief in place of a specifically designed mask.

A handkerchief is just a make-do arrangement, however, a mask is designed keeping in mind filtration, breath-ability, comfort, ergonomics, etc.

On the contrary, if the tool is easy and simple to use, the collaborators will be encouraged to use the tool. Thus, speeding the process and achieving better results.

Is the Idea Management Tool You are exploring Engaging?

No innovation program is going to be successful unless you make it engaging. If the tool is not engaging, a user won’t be excited or motivated enough to share his/her ideas.

Encouragement to share the ideas is the very basis of such a program. It’s pretty much the same as sharing posts on social media like Facebook or Linkedin.

Engagement on posts through reactions, comments, impressions, views encourage the users to share even more. Not just more sharing, in fact, it gives users an idea of what type of posts score better in terms of response.

Below are just 10 ways out of many that make an idea & innovations management tool engaging:

1. Minimizing the friction to share ideas/feedback/updates or anything related to the tool.

2. A notification of idea submission to the collaborators for review.

3. A notification of feedback reception to innovator/inventor.

4. Patent Analytics driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) based review/rating on an idea from the tool.

5. Redundancy indication from IP Counsel.

6. Inputs on making the claims stronger for a Patent from IP Counsel.

7. Update on an innovation from business angle to all the collaborators.

8. Budget sanction notification for a successful innovation to be patented.

9. Patent draft available for review notification for all the stakeholders.

10. Inviting ideas to solve certain business challenges through innovation.

Does the Tool share Real-Time Updates?

A lot of stuff out there is very static. For example, if you wish to know the status of the company’s IP, you shall place a request for IP report generation to your patent attorney. The report shall most probably be in a form of a table/spreadsheet. Such a report makes it cumbersome to draw valuable insights on the IP front.

Another major problem with such a report is that it very quickly gets out of date. Hence what’s needed is a provision to track what’s happening with your innovations in real-time.

Here is how real-time updates are really beneficial:

1) People get busy developing the product, they forget about what’s happening with their innovation.

2) A system that monitors what’s going on shall help in making sure things are adhering to the process.

3) Timely updates help is avoiding last moment rush:

  • Realizing that you haven’t filed a patent yet and you are closer to the product release.
  • And then you are scrambling through to find out what’s happening and reaching out to IP counsel to get an update.

4) A one-shot way to update all the stakeholders allows for the transparency of the IP management.

Does the tool Manage the Process throughout the Lifecycle (Idea to Patent)?

Does the tool manage the process throughout the life-cycle(i.e. from Idea to Patent)?

The most common and important question that arises in this whole process is: do we file a patent or not?

Earlier the decision about patenting takes place the better it is, as it results in saving time, money, and effort.

Right provisions like below in the idea management tool can help in taking this important decision in the early stages or at least before regretting the investment made in patenting:

1) Visibility into a knowledge repository of ideas helps to avoid redundancy. There is a possibility that a similar idea got patented earlier. Even before the inventor of innovation in question got hired.

2) Vetting by Subject Matter Experts early on helps in shaping the idea and decide which ones to be pursued

3) Ability to view the patent draft as well as final patent application on the same platform.

Does the Innovation Management Tool keep Evolving and Getting more Sophisticated?

A pleasant surprise always makes you feel happy. Isn’t it? And only happy users can ensure the success of such a tool.

Innovations do not happen on a daily basis. But, whenever a user comes to the tool, new pleasing features shall engage him better. So such an innovation tracking tool needs to continuously evolve and keep getting more sophisticated.

Here are a few ways to achieve sophistication in an idea and innovation management software:

1) Improved Analytics

2) Enhanced Idea Nurturing

3) Dashboard driven by Great User Experience

4) Customization based on organizational needs

“With the right tools and a great team create strategic IP wealth and not dead investments.”

For a company, that files 40-60 patents per year, a tool that is specifically designed for idea capturing and vetting is sheer bliss.

It is important to make the best use of budget allocated towards creating IP.

We hope that this article could give you pointers to make the right choice for an idea management software.

TIP Tool is one such tool that is getting developed along the lines mentioned above. It currently provides ideas capturing and vetting.

Want to be a part of our beta community? Try it for free.

Types of Intellectual Property & Related Costs – Triangle IP

Everything about you IP cost in US

A Quick Overview: Types of IP

Type of Intellectual Property (IP) protection needed for an invention depends on the nature of invention. Each of 4 main types of IPR – Patents, Trade Secrets, Copyrights & Trademarks has their own use cases. Patents are best suited for inventions that revolve around a product – process of manufacturing, its layout or appearance etc. If you wish to protect a recipe or a formula, keeping it as a trade secret shall be the best choice. Copyrights protection is well suited for artistic works like music. Trademarks are the best way to protect the visuals that represent a brand.

Each type of IPR protection costs different, this post shares great insights on costs related to each type of IP protection.

To Patent or Not To Patent: Inventor’s Choice

In August  2010, two MIT alums filed a patent for an application that helps multiple clients share and access files over a network. There are high chances that you’ve used this file-sharing app. You must have used “Dropbox”, Haven’t you? Today, it has more than 14 million users and is a billion-dollar enterprise.

Dropbox patent drawing - Intellectual Property related costs

Not every founder, inventor or developer is as generous as  Linus Torvalds, who gave his masterpiece (LINUX) to the world for free? 

If the founders (Drew Houston & Arash Ferdowsi) of Dropbox Inc. hadn’t protected their asset by patent, Dropbox might have even had 10 times its user base today, but they wouldn’t benefit from it. This is why individuals and organizations should safeguard their intellectual property. 

Most organizations are wary about the costs involved in protecting their intellectual assets.There is an assumption that it costs a bomb to get it secured. While there is no easy answer on how much it costs to safeguard your intellectual property, the safest answer is – “it depends on a lot of factors”. In this article, we will help you traverse the difficult terrain of intellectual property and your IP related costs. 

What Is Intellectual Property? 

The intangible creations of the human mind are called intellectual property. It refers to inventions such as literary work, artistic work, designs, symbols, names, product recipes, images, and so on. To ensure that others do not steal your intellectual property, you need to secure them.

There are four different types of intellectual property (IP) rights.  

  • Trademark
  • Patent
  • Copyright
  • Trade Secret

4 Types Of Intellectual Property : Patents, Trade Secrets, Trademarks, Copyrights

Trademark:

An American conglomerate filed a lawsuit against a Chinese company for using a brand name that was eerily similar to theirs. Even though the courts found that there were dissimilarities in products, since the latter was able to acquire clients and capture significant market share using the brand name, they had to pay up the American company. 

What Is A Trademark?

It protects brands. Under the law, a trademark is anything by which customers recognize a brand or the source of a product. A trademark offers legal protection for logo, design, symbol, phrase, wordmarks, or a combination of those that represents a source of goods or services. 

Example:

Trademark Example - Intellectual Property related costs
Credits: Legalwiz

Costs For Securing Trademark Rights in USA:

According to USPTO, the initial application fee for electronic filing for a trademark is $225 per class of goods/services. There are 45 classes of goods and services. 

  1. Your attorney will file a trademark application for you and the charges for it will be anywhere between $300 and $1000.
  2. Once the application is filed, it will be examined by a Trademark Examiner. 
  3. If the examiner issues an Office Action refusing the application, then the attorney’s fees to respond to that would be between $200 and $2000. 
  4. The application needs to be filed based on having used the mark already for sales or with an intent to do so in the future. A Statement of Use is filed if nothing has been sold using the mark. The government’s fee to file it is $100 for each class of goods. Attorney fees to prepare it is between $250 and $700. 
  5. After your application has matured to registration, you must fill the required maintenance documents. Between the 5th and 6th year of registration, Section 8 declaration has to be filed. 

i.) A Section 8 declaration is a signed statement saying that the trademark is in use in commerce and if not, then it should come with an excuse explaining the reasons. 

ii.) Between the 9th and 10th year after registration, a combined declaration of use/non-use and application for renewal under Sections 8 and 9 should be filed together. The fee for combined filing is $425 per class of goods or services. 

For a detailed account of the trademark fee, you can use this link here

How Long Does The Trademark Protection Last?

While the terms of trademark registration can differ, the duration is usually ten years. Also, the USPTO requires that between the fifth and sixth year after the date of registration, the trademark owner should file an affidavit stating that the mark is still being used commercially. If the affidavit is not filed, the registration is cancelled. The USPTO will not send any reminders requesting you to send the affidavit. 

Note: The trademark can be renewed indefinitely by paying additional fees. 

Patent:

One of the most famous patented inventions is the electric lightbulb. Another significant one is the telephone (Transmitter and Receiver for Electric-Telegraphs) which was patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. Each of these made the patent owners significantly wealthy. 

What Is A Patent?

Patents protect the innovative ideas of processes. There are two types of patents:

  1. Utility patent – It protects a process, manufacture, composition of matter, and a useful machine. Example: Fully convertible high heel-to-flat shoe

Utility Patent: Convertible High Heel Shoe: Types of Intellectual Property

  1. Design patent – It protects the shape, appearance, pattern design, layout, and looks of a product. Example: Car or similar article by Warner Bros. (BatMobile)

Patent D311882 Bat Mobile - Intellectual Property related costs

Costs For Filing A Patent in USA:

For filing a patent, the costs vary not only based on the country, but also on the complexity of the invention. It could be $1000 if you plan to do most of the filing work or can be upwards of $40,000+ if your invention is complex. 

  1. The basic cost to file a patent application at the USPTO is $300. If you are an individual, and it is $75 and $150, if you are a small entity. 
  2. For professional attorney patent searches, it would cost anywhere between $800 and $3000. Find the best tips to hire a patent attorney here.
  3. Expect to pay anywhere between $3000 and $5000 on average plus the USPTO fees to an attorney to prepare a new patent application. 
  4. The costs for the patent depends on the type of patent you apply for. 
  1. Provisional Patent: $1500 – $3500
  2. Utility Patent: $5000 – $15000
  3. Design Patent: $2000 – $3500
  4. Plant Patent: $4500 – $8000
  5. International Patent- $100000+

Here is the USPTO link where you can find more information about the fees for filing a patent. 

If you want a cheaper route, then you can do all of this by yourself, but you need to be meticulous in terms of recording everything about your invention. You might have to spend hours filing everything correctly. 

Choosing Inventions For Patenting

While every innovation of your invention deserves a patent, it might not be feasible to patent everything as the prices are a bit steep. Not everyone has huge budgets so corporations may have to pick and choose on what to patent (according to the strategy that they might have). You need to evaluate your ideas before you decide. The company should take the call on which part of your invention to pursue for patenting. The most important part in this process is to keep a track of all ideas so that nothing is missed. You can use a simple spreadsheet but that tends to get corrupted with time along with having security issues. TriangleIP provides a free tool which helps you in maintaining and tracking your ideas. It provides you with 4 different workflow stages till the filing process – through which you can navigate and track your ideas. 

Maintenance Costs:

Patent maintenance fee is paid to the USPTO to keep up a granted patent and is sometimes applicable for pending patent applications. Note: Design and Plant patents do not require maintenance fees. Maintenance fees are to be paid at the fourth, eighth and twelfth year anniversary from the time the patent is granted. To calculate the maintenance fees for your patents, you can use this link from the USPTO website

Maintenance Fees of patents - Intellectual Property related costs

How Long Does Patent Protection Last?

A utility patent is granted for 20 years from the date the patent application is filed. A design patent is protected for 14 years from the date the patent is granted. To enforce the protection of the patent, there are fees involved. 

Copyright:

Vanilla Ice’s song Ice Ice Baby used parts of music from the song Under Pressure by David Bowie and Queen.

When they faced a lawsuit, Vanilla Ice confessed to sampling the work, and the case was settled out of court for an undeclared sum of money and crediting Bowie/Queen for the track. 

What is Copyright?

It protects the original work of authorship. It helps the copyright owner to control reproduction, performance, adaptations, and distribution of the work. Examples of such works are- literature, drawings, paintings, songs, music, computer software, films, photos, web content, etc. 

Copyright is generally attached to the work when the original work is available in a fixed medium. It means that the work has been written down on a piece of paper, saved in a storage device, or in some tangible format. 

Costs for copyright protection in USA:

Filing a copyright application involves a lot of forms and each of them has different fees. Here is a breakdown of the costs involved to copyright your work.

  1. The copyright registration fees for one work by one author costs about $45 if you are filing online. The fee is $125 for paper filing. 
  2. For all the other filings, it will put you back by $65. 
  3. There are special fees for registering an application claim in a group or obtaining additional certificates of registration. 
  4. The USPTO does special services that have a different fee format too. 

How Long Does A Copyright Last?

The terms of a copyright for a work depends on a variety of factors, including whether it has been published and if yes, then the date of publication. 

  1. Copyright protection lasts for the author’s entire life plus an additional 70 years, for works created after January 1, 1978. 
  2. For anonymous works, or a work made for hire or a pseudonymous work, the copyright is for a period of 95 years from the year of its first publication or 120 years, whichever expires first. 
  3. For works published after 1923, but before 1978 are protected for 95 years from the date of its publication. 
  4. If the work was created but not published before 1978, then the copyright lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years. 

Renewal:

For works that are created after January 1, 1978, the copyright is not subject to renewal registration. 

Trade Secret:

In 1953, inventors at Rocket Chemical company came up with a formula at the 40th attempt and called it WD-40 – “Water Displacement, 40th Formula”. The company never patented it because trade secret seemed like a better protection and wisely so. And the company managed to keep it a secret for 50+ years. By the fiscal year 2017, gross revenue for the company, including sales of the familiar WD-40 Multi-Use as well as other products, totaled $381 million in annual revenue. It was only in 2009, that “Wired” with advanced processes like gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy managed to find out what’s inside WD-40.

WD 40- Tradesecret - Intellectual Property related costs
Credits: Wikipedia

What is a Trade Secret?

A trade secret is any valuable information that is not publicly known and of which the owner has taken reasonable steps to maintain secrecy. It could be ingredients used in their dishes, business methods, customer data, ideas related to your business, marketing strategy, experimental technology, etc. 

Costs To Guard Trade Secrets in USA:

Since you don’t have to register with a government body for qualifying your product/business as a trade secret, there are no costs associated with it. Guarding the secret requires security measures, and these might accrue some costs.

As trade secrets costs feel nominal compared to patenting expenses, you might get tempted to opt for trade secrets. This may or may not be a good idea. Thomas Franklin, the founder of Triangle IP has shared great insights in the following video to choose between patents and trade secrets.

How Long Does Trade Secret Protection Last?

Indefinite protection to the trade secret as long as the secret is commercially viable. It will continue as long as the secret is not available to the public. Also, unlike patents or copyrights, trade secrets are protected without registration. 

How To Protect Your Intellectual Property?

We have discussed the major four types of intellectual property and how they can safeguard your business from infringers. It is the onus of the business to protect its assets. Losing one of your assets can result in significant damages to your business. Getting the right advice from professionals will make it easy for you to protect the interests of your business.

For starters, you could write down a list of ideas, discuss them with your lawyer and decide which are the ones that are worth going after. TriangleIP helps companies with a free tool using which ideas can be managed till the filing process.

Conclusion:

In summary, below is the list of the 4 forms of intellectual property related costs discussed in this article:

IP FormProtects Life (in yrs) Prosecution & filing costsMaintenance Cost
TrademarkInfringement/Damage of reputation by another company10 (can be renewed indefinitely)$225-$400 per class of goods/services depending on the type of application $425 per class of goods/services
PatentIt protects the commercial use of the invention without the consent of the patent owner20$75-$300 based on the size of your company$1,600 for large entity | $800 for small businesses | $400 for micro businesses
CopyrightIt protects the original work of an author70-120 yrsStarts at $45 for e-filingNo maintenance fees
Trade SecretIt protects information that is crucial to a business, using which the entity has a strong competitive advantageLasts as long as the trade secret is viable commerciallyThere is no need to register with a government body to guard your trade secretNo maintenance fees

A report from the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property pegs the loss from IP theft between $225 billion and $600 billion annually. If you fail to protect your intellectual property because of the costs involved, you might end up losing a major chunk of revenue as competitors might copy it. You will lose your competitive advantage too when others claim to provide the same features that you do. 

It is normal to feel overwhelmed with the rigmarole of the lengthy procedures involved in filing applications for each intellectual property, which is exactly why you should delegate it to the experts, depending on the situation.

Protect Your IP Before Your Co-Founder Leaves Your Startup

5 STEPS TO TAKE BEFORE YOUR CO-FOUNDER LEAVES

Remember co-founders are also employees who are privy to confidential information. A leaving co-founder may pose a significant threat to your IP. We bring to you five ways to protect your IP when your co-founder leaves.”

The team that starts a company is often not the one that stays on till the end of it.

Co-founders leave.

A co-founder who is leaving the company may pose a significant risk to the company. He/She may claim the company’s intellectual property rights as his/her own.

A leaving co-founder can start their own rival entity and may end up using the company’s intellectual property.

Typically, when co-founders start a company, they brainstorm, develop an IP, and then start with the business.

This makes the co-founders privy to all kinds of proprietary information. They have seen the growth of the IP from a nascent stage. And they may think that they have a right to use it, independent of their association with the company, as well.

So, what to do when a co-founder leaves? How to protect the company’s IP against a leaving co-founder?

We highlight below five ways by which you can protect your company’s IP. And contractually bind the co-founder to not use or treat the company’s IP as his own:

Assign IP to the company rather than co-founders/Invention Agreement 

Intellectual Property enhances the valuation of companies. Hence, its protection becomes important. IP Rights need to be assigned to the company rather than the founders. In the event, the founders decide to walk away from the company, it is important that the IP rights still remain with the company.

How can IP rights be assigned to the company?

This is where a proprietary inventions agreement comes into the picture.

Such an agreement mandates that all the intellectual property developed, conceived, formulated, and generated by a company would be the sole property of the company.

While drafting this agreement, care should be taken that the intellectual property rights of the co-founders are assigned to the company and that they do not remain the property of an individual. It is not uncommon for companies to obtain trademarks, patents, and domain names in the name of one or more of the co-founders initially.

Later on, these should be transferred in the name of the company.  Any patents which are filed should be filed in the name of the company and not the co-founders. 

Employment Agreement

A co-founder is not only associated with a company in the capacity of a co-founder but also as an employee. He/she may develop intellectual property during their employment with the company.

Rights in such intellectual property should also be vested in the company.

The co-founder’s employment agreement which would be separate from the inventions agreement should contain such a clause. 

Non-Disclosure Agreement

A Non-Disclosure Agreement should be mandatorily signed with the co-founder. Such an agreement would prevent the co-founder from disclosing the trade secrets of the company. 

For example, if you have a restaurant business and there is a unique recipe that has the capability of attracting more customers to your restaurant; the recipe is your restaurant’s trade secret.

If your co-founder leaves and opens a competing business and uses this recipe, your restaurant would lose its edge. A non-disclosure agreement would contractually prohibit him from engaging in such an act. 

Confidentiality Clause

Business ideas form the very base of successful functioning and continuance. Hence, it is prudent to bind all current and even former partners by the clause of confidentiality.

Confidentiality should protect the business ideas, trade secrets, any operations/procedures which have been adopted to give finality to these ideas and finally the end-product itself.

A confidentiality clause can be built in the employment agreement of each co-founder, in the Founders’ Agreement, and in the NDA which the co-founder signs.

Remember to make the confidentiality clause applicable even post the termination of the aforesaid agreements.

Typically, a confidential clause should survive 6-12 months after the agreements have ended. 

Non-Compete Clause

A non-compete clause prohibits the co-founders to engage in competing business for a reasonable period of time after they leave the company.

It is essential to have a non-compete clause in the Founders’ Agreement and the employment agreement of the co-founder. 

One hurdle that one may face with regard to non-compete clauses is its enforceability.

The enforceability of non-compete clauses varies across states.

In California, such clauses are void and unenforceable.

In other states such as North Dakota and Oklahoma, the use of non-compete provisions outside the sale of a business is limited. Other states such as Illinois prohibit the use of non-compete with regards to low wage workers.

Hence, having a non-compete clause can be one of the ways in which you can prevent your co-founder from stealing your confidential information and use it for the benefit of a rival/competing entity.

However, it may not be fool-proof and hence should be coupled with other protections such as assigning of IP to the company, NDA, confidentiality obligations, etc. 

Our co-founder recently talked about this in a detailed video. You can watch the video below:

Conclusion

To conclude, while it is understandable that a co-founder leaving a start-up that they helped build may be a devastating blow for the management, it does not necessarily have to be a fatal one.

By doing small exercises to protect the larger interests of the company over the individual interests of the founders, the company can have a strong foundation on which it can be built.

If organizations take steps like including IP ownership by the company, along with NDA and non-compete clauses as part of a founders’ agreement, then any future fallout resulting in the founders splitting ways, will not tear the company apart.

These steps will provide stability to the company and protect its IP.

5 Strategies To Reduce Patent Expenditure

5-Strategies-to-Reduce-Patent-Expenditure

“Reduce Patent Expenditure”: Have we read your mind?

The on-going pandemic has drastically affected the availability of resources for discretionary expenses such as patents. It is of no surprise that many companies are proactively looking to conserve cash by pruning their patent portfolio.

So, what are some of the strategies that companies can opt to reduce their patent expenditure?

The following points aim to highlight the plausible ways:

Trade Secret

Patents are intangible assets, and so are trade secrets that enjoy legal protection from misappropriation.

The caveat here is that if a trade secret holder fails to maintain secrecy or:

  • if the information is independently discovered,
  • becomes released, or
  • becomes known in the general course of business,

then the protection of a trade secret is lost.

Nevertheless, here is how the Courts can enforce trade secrets in misappropriation cases:

1. By ordering maintenance of secrecy.

2. Payment of royalty to the owner.

Watch Webinar: How to manage your prosecution in the Covid environment?

Webinar: 5 Strategies To Reduce Patent Expenditure In The COVID World

Defensive Publication

Patents are expensive, defensive publication is a good alternative. You can curtail or defer expenses relating to patents by using the defensive publication to your advantage.

The defensive publication refers to the publishing of a technical disclosure of your idea in the public domain. This disclosure prevents competitors from obtaining a patent.

The reason behind the popularity of defensive publication is its cost-effective nature over patents.

Provisional Patents

Unlike a utility patent, a provisional patent is not reviewed by the USPTO.

A provisional patent acts as a reservation for the invention until an investor is willing to file a utility patent. However, the follow-up utility patent application needs to be filed within a year.

Thus, filing a provisional patent allows a company to defer patent expenses for a period of less than a year. In this period you can continue to conduct more research into the market viability of the patent. You can also use this time to refine the patent product/process itself. 

Also Read: Everything You Should Know About USPTO Patent Center

Curtail Overseas Spends

Patents are an expensive proposition, more so in foreign countries where patent applications stretch out over a year or sometimes more.

Furthermore, the patent protection regime in such countries may not be conducive to patent filing as enforceability is often lax.

Therefore, companies should reconsider their non-strategic patent spends and weed out jurisdictions after undertaking a cost-benefit analysis of obtaining a patent in that particular country.

Continuations

A continuation patent application is an extension of the existing patent application. The continuation patent application increases the scope of patent protection from multiple perspectives.

However, continuations are expensive to file. Since they are “designed” around an existing patent, it only serves to enhance coverage of an existing patent.

To conserve cash, companies can either forego filing continuations or defer them.

Other Strategies

Here are a few more high-level strategies that will ensure the optimization of patent spends for companies:

Ask Questions

Companies or clients should regularly question their patent attorney to gauge the timeframe as to:

  • when a patent will be issued,
  • what are the chances of getting a patent,
  • how best to curtail patent spend, etc.

By asking questions at every step along the patent application process, the viability of a patent can be determined. Whether it makes monetary sense to pursue the issuance of a patent or abandon it altogether.

Align Corporate Strategy

Often, patents are pursued with the sole intention of ensuring the protection of an invention rather than a monetizable invention.

Hence, in the prevailing scenario of depleting cash reserves, it is prudent to pursue patent applications of those inventions which:

  • align with the overall corporate strategy
  • or are expected to provide for economic benefits.

License to Litigate

Patents are a means to litigate. They provide for the legal protection of your inventions. In cases of infringement, the Court can award damages, court costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Hence, it is a wise notion to pursue a strategy only for patents that are litigate-able.

Let’s Sum It Up

The COVID pandemic has thrown corporate strategies as well as financial forecasts for a toss. It is the all-hands-on-deck mode to conserve cash. It is widely acknowledged that patents, albeit extremely critical to the success of a company, incur exponential costs.

Companies can rationalize their patent expenditure over the short-term and medium-term by aligning it with the overall business objectives. Companies can also opt for ways to postpone filing a patent application.

Hope the insights presented in the post shall help you reduce patent expenditure.

7 Key Benefits an Idea Management Software Provides to a Business

7 key benefits of an Idea Management System

For businesses to excel in existing markets and penetrate deeper into new marketplaces, they need to utilize the capabilities of their workforce to the optimum. By fostering cognitive stimulation and development of employees’ ideas surrounding efficiency and innovation, the application of an idea management system extends the participation of employees in an organization. Such enhanced participation benefits not only the business but increase the employees’ morale as well – a win-win situation.

Historically, businesses relied on the ‘suggestion box’ systems to collate ideas and feedback from employees, but these systems failed due to structural flaws, such as:

  1. As the interaction is generalist, suggestions are often of low-quality or not relevant. 
  2. After idea submission, often, an employee never hears about the outcome of the idea. Eventually, employees tend to start considering this as a futile exercise.
  3. Paper-based suggestions made it difficult for the management to promptly evaluate recommendations, thereby, leading either to a loss of opportunity or redundancy of an idea.

In contrast, idea management software accounts for a well-defined process that allows employees to provide suggestions on specific business objectives alongside ensuring a closed-loop evaluation process. 

Advantages of Idea Management Software

There are several benefits that idea management software offer to the businesses; they are:

Efficient and faster evaluation

Idea management software aid businesses to lower the turnaround time of an idea between an ideation stage to the patent stage. The best ideas are identified, implemented, reviewed, and evaluated, whereas the poor ones are discarded. 

Credits: Viima

Divergent thinking

The best ideas are those that take inspiration from various sources. To ensure a consistent flow of creative juices, employees need mental freedom to indulge in divergent thinking without worrying about the consequences. In essence, this is the bedrock for a true “light bulb” moment. 

Enhanced Collaboration

How often a brainstorming discussion between team players turn into an ego-clash? Way too often.

An idea management system makes it easier for employees to engage in a collaborative effort without transforming the discussion into a chaotic communication.

By inputting data into an idea management software, participants can keep track of the progress of the idea, any reservations to the idea, and potential avenues to improve the idea further.

Better Focus on Employees’ Efforts

By guiding employees’ creative energies towards the fulfillment of business aims, a business can improve the quality and relevance of the suggestions. An idea management system allows a business to highlight specific business goals and even specific business processes to gather suggestions or feedback.

The innovation program introduced by Altice Portugal (formerly known as Portugal Telecom) resulted in a 44% improvement in employee engagement over four years (58% in 2008 to 84% in 2012) and annual savings to the tune of $38 million due to business process improvements from employees’ ideas. 

Also Read: 7 ways to Encourage Innovative Thinking at Your Workplace

Foster Innovation

A vital ingredient in R&D is ideas as they form the backbone of the significant, radical innovations that can fundamentally change as to how a business runs or the birth of new products. Ironically, for specialized departments like R&D to be successful, they require feedback and suggestions from all other departments to be able to mold a prototype into a patentable product.

A prime example of how an idea management system can foster innovation is Toyota Creative Idea and Suggestion System (TCISS). Since its inception in 1951, TCISS has received more than 40 million creative ideas (and counting), which enabled Toyota’s products to be world-renowned for quality, reliability, and durability.

Thought Mapping

Through standardization and automation of the documentation side of the ideation process, an idea management system can enable faster, comprehensive, and more dependable search as well as storage of information.

Such thought-mapping of ideas through an idea management system can potentially save a business from loss of quality data or critical processes or technical expertise.

Ease in Patent Filing

When filing for a patent, it is necessary to provide steps that led to the evolution of a particular product or process. Through an idea management system, a business can capture the various inputs and outcomes that went into building a prototype, a marketable copy, and, eventually, the product itself.

A journal article in Santa Clara High Technology Law Journal concluded that patent documentation could be a vital tool in planning development, producing statistical information, and even for allocation of funding – an idea management software can work as a repository serving this function.

The application of an idea management system results in numerous benefits that translate into better functioning of business alongside enhanced employee engagement and morale.

Many businesses have understood the importance of capturing productive ideas to gain a competitive advantage and are increasingly investing in a good idea management software to enable such mapping.

7 ways to Encourage Innovative Thinking at Your Workplace

Encouraging innovative thinking at workplace

The start-up culture is on a boom, and with the launch of several innovative steps, many concepts unimagined a few years earlier have forayed in the market (such as tableware turning into the soil, green plastic, smart waste, etc.).

But many malicious practices (cyber attacks due to lack of/no cybersecurity) have also surfaced with the boom of this culture. Many ideas or ventures that seemed practicable have doomed terribly with no signs of recovery. 

Why do you think some ideas don’t make it to the finishing line?

What is your opinion? What are the steps we are not taking to curb this issue?

Where do you think we are lacking? 

Encourage innovative thinking using the following ways to find answers to these questions. They may even help you or your business get out of the mess or launch an idea successfully.

The seven ways to encourage innovative thinking are:

  1. Think Tank
  2. Mixed Culture
  3. Adequate Staffing
  4. Experimentation Zone
  5. Reward & Recognition
  6. Shut down
  7. Flexible Environment

Think Tank

This is not the real think tank where you get paid to do only research, study, and research. An organization can create a think tank of employees’ expertise in a particular subject or field. This can also have a discussion panel. Whenever an idea strikes, he/she should directly approach the concerned panel.

This way, the culture of innovation will flourish seamlessly. This approach will help departments to launch a creative solution to challenges.

Mixed Culture

This might sound a bit tricky but bore long-lasting results. Teams with diverse academic backgrounds, gender, and age groups make an organization fertile and successful.

Mixed culture gives a character, a personality to any organization. It creates a healthy work environment where give-and-take of ideas takes place without any hurdles. It also makes an office highly productive.

Imagine an organization with only older people, or only youngsters, or only female or only male employees. Clients often find organizations like these less approachable.

Offices have a limited scope of development if they do not have a mixed culture. Many clients might not take organizations like these seriously or might find them less inventive.

To make your organization avoid getting into this trap and run smoothly on the grounds of innovation and creativity, incorporating mixed culture is a must. Embracing diversity and encouraging different perspectives is key.

Adequate Staffing

Supposedly in an organization, employees are overloaded with work. Where will ideas thrive, if they do not have time to think on them? Employees should have adequate work, but not get bogged down by workload.

This builds an atmosphere of hate, anxiety, and indecisiveness that brings down the organization. Organizations should hire adequate, qualified, and well-trained staff.

Experimentation zone

This is like a play area, where you play with your ideas than any games. The HR team has a crucial role to play in setting up experimentation zones in their organization. Here you get leverage to discuss your ideas freely without any hesitation. This zone will enable people to hang out, discuss ideas, troubleshoot, and get a bird’s eye view of their plan. This will make innovation the new normal. It will imbibe trust in employees for their organization for contributing not just in its personal growth, but also in the growth of the employees.

Reward & Recognition

This is by far the most important step. Anybody wants to get rewarded or recognized for their contribution to any task they do. The type of award does not matter. What matters is the recognition. This creates a positive work environment. It also encourages other employees to follow suit and perform better.

Shut down

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Working 24*7 will make you successful is a wrong notion. You need to unwind and shut a few times a day or maybe at least once in a week. Offices should encourage this culture to thrive. Constant work challenges your brains’ thinking abilities. A power nap after lunch, outing with colleagues, coffee break, stroll after lunch or in the evening are some of the many ways that take you out from the monotony. Who knows shutting down can give you a new perspective of a problem that is bothering you for long!

Flexible environment

Gone are the ‘9 to 5’ days. People love to work in an environment where they are heard. A grumpy boss, gossiping and jealous colleagues and tight working hours make the work environment hazardous. Will innovation thrive in such an atmosphere?

Of course not!

A flexible and relaxed environment increases productivity 10 fold. Employees won’t get Monday blues for sure if they are provided a positive work environment.

To make your office a safe haven, you might try incorporating all these steps. This way employees will not hesitate in taking that necessary leap. Some plans might fail. But with discussions and interactions, all the problems will be easily dealt with. 

To build in a healthy work environment, employers should carry out regular surveys and set up the organization accordingly. They should make sure every resource hired is valued.

In the present time, an agile innovation management tool like TIP tool can transform the way your business fall, collect and implement various ideas. 

Also Read: How to control patent costs without compromising on your patent?

Richard Branson has rightly said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”