9 Best Intellectual Property Management Software For Businesses In 2021

Tracking your Intellectual Property from the idea stage to the commercialization stage is an ordeal, involving high risks with no room for inadvertent errors. Storing confidential Intellectual Property-related information on generic systems like spreadsheets is susceptible to data breaches and inefficient.

To earn a competitive advantage in business, organizations need to be on top of their IP game. Having a systematic business process for managing ideas will help your organization in identifying patentable and commercially viable inventions. Today there are various tools and software that allow you to keep track of your Intellectual Property at every stage. They are easy to use and you can choose the software best suited to your company’s needs. Intellectual Property management softwares help you capture the most promising ideas and track their progress till these become IP assets. 

Let’s look at the 9 best Intellectual Property management software for businesses to use in 2021:

#1. The TIP Tool™ by Triangle IP

The (TIP) Tool makes your patent mining process transparent and easy. It is an intuitive and engaging platform, with a drag and drop workflow. It helps with the idea capturing and internal vetting, where approval for drafting a patent is sought. The draft patent applications can be stored and exchanged securely by the prosecutor. Upon filing the application, the serial number and filing date are added along with a copy of the final application. You can also get the patenting cost estimates, case statistics, and examiner analytics, and stay in sync with the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO). It is a reliable way to ease your headache of complex Intellectual Property management at your enterprise. 

Key Benefits:

Improve the quality of invention disclosures ​- Get more invention disclosures using a simple & intuitive invention disclosure form

Best Intellectual Property Management Software - Triangle IP's Invention Disclosure Form

Gain patent pipeline visibility – Track your idea through various stages of the process whether it is being evaluated at your end or passed to your counsel for drafting and filing

TBest Intellectual Property Management Software - riangle IP's patent pipeline visibility

Brainstorm ideas with stakeholders on a real-time basis – Brainstorm and discuss ideas with inventors, prosecutors, managers working in remote locations and collaborate on a real-time basis

Best Intellectual Property Management Software - Triangle IP's real time collaboration feature

Case analytics and cost prediction – Know the probability of getting your idea patented or a prediction on how much getting a patent may cost over the years

Triangle IP's Case analytics and cost prediction

USPTO status updates – Automatic application(s) status update with USPTO for your published as well as unpublished applications

Triangle IP's USPTO Status Updates

Patent counsel and examiner statistics – Make informed decisions with your patent counsel and examiner analytics by knowing more about the law firm &  examiner handling your application 

Patent counsel and examiner statistics

A holistic view of your patent pipeline at a glance – Identify the bottlenecks in your innovation pipeline by gaining visibility into your entire IP lifecycle through various dashboards

A holistic view of your patent pipeline at a glance

Additional Benefits:

  • Approving ideas – Lock approved ideas to enhance protection
  • Merge multiple ideas – Drag & drop multiple ideas into a single filing
  • Scoring – Prioritize your ideas with the value score
  • Magic link – Passwordless login with single-use email link
  • Archiving ideas – Archive low priority ideas so as to focus on other unfiled ideas
  • Tagging – Use tags to group and filter ideas
  • Nurturing – Strengthen collaboration by notifying stakeholders

Pricing:

​​Free TierPaid Tier ($495 Per Portfolio, Yearly)
User limit – 10User limit – 25
Storage –  5 GBStorage – 20 GB
Maximum file size – 10 MB Maximum file size – 50 MB
Portfolios – 1Portfolios – 3
Private Pair Access
Case Analytics
Portfolio Manager
Family Trees
Customizable Idea Form
Real-Time Collaboration
Enhanced Nurturing
First Month Free – SignUp Today

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

The person responsible for managing intellectual property at a small-to-medium-sized enterprise that files 5+ patents per year. The enterprise needs a systematic business process to capture innovations and track the progress from ideas to patents

Users’ Perspective

One of the users of TIP Tool reviewed it as “Quite a useful tool to manage overall ideas”. 

  • The tool is easy to use and understand, even for a person who is not from a patent background
  • Gives a smooth platform to store ideas in one place and track them through a complete IP lifecycle
  • Role-based access – admin, inventors, managers, patent prosecutors with different permissions

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

The TIP Tool comes with the power of patent analytics. Watch the video to know how analytics can help you make informed IP decisions

#2. AppColl Prosecution Manager

AppColl Prosecution Manager is a cloud-based Intellectual Property management software and docketing platform. The service allows access to all documents from any web browser, anytime, and communication between all parties associated with filing a patent in the US and internationally.

Key Features:

  • Offers 9 interdependent modules for tasks, matters, prior art, files, billing, reports, contacts, invent, and conflicts
  • Automates many of the docketing and workflow activities
  • Provides the complete prosecution history of patent and trademark matters through data retrievals from the USPTO’s Private PAIR and TSDR reporting systems
  • Keeps track of fees and expenses

Pricing: 

Free trial for 30 days. 

It has two versions of the tool, pro at 100 USD per month and plus at 130 USD per month.

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

Suitable for law firms to assist in the patent prosecution stage of IP lifecycle.

Users’ Perspective

A patent lawyer based in California has reviewed it as “Destroys big law firms for pennies on the dollar”.

  • Affordable and scalable

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

Appcoll’s YouTube channel has many videos to give you a fair idea of how the product works.

#3. Minuet 

Minuet is an IP management software solution from Inteum Company to help you manage your IP portfolio. It helps to streamline the entire technology supply chain, from Intellectual Property to monetization.

Key Features:

  • Custom dashboards, dynamic charts, and analysis
  • Patent Intelligence Suite automatically updates patent records & search for patents 
  • Activity Management
  • Technology Publisher 
  • Inventor Portal

Pricing:

Offers a free trial.

Deployment: 

  • Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based
  • Desktop – Mac, Windows, Chromebook

Who Needs this Software

Innovative organizations that create or manage intellectual property. Also suitable for tech transfer offices in research institutions and IP departments at companies.

Users’ Perspective

We migrated to Inteum just over a year ago from a bespoke database

  • Good CRM functionality
  • Quickly accessible during the meetings
  • The ability to create user-defined fields on one’s own is great

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

Best Intellectual Property Management Software

Source: Inteum

To get more insights watch the dashboard demo by Inteum 

#4. FoundationIP

FoundationIP by CPA Global checks bibliographic data automatically, providing real-time discrepancy management. It is a one-click docketing system that automates USPTO office actions from private PAIR to save time and reduce the likelihood of error. It includes dashboards to create and share visualizations to align your IP with the wider business strategy.

Key Features:

  • Efficient workflows
  • One-click docketing
  • Insightful dashboard
  • Expert Support
  • Security
Best Intellectual Property Management Software

Source: Foundation IP

Pricing: 

Per feature pricing model.

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

Suitable for law firms and corporate IP departments of all sizes as it is scalable and can grow and mature with your business as needed.

Users’ Perspective

Foundation IP – Great docketing system

  • Easy to use
  • Customizable 
  • Frequent updates to make the docketing experience better

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

You can find an overview of the FoundationIP software here.

#5. PatentCAM

PatentCAM by IP Checkups is a collaborative, patent management software for R&D, legal, and business teams to make strategic business decisions. It lets you analyze patent search results, mitigate legal risk and determine marketability. It was created to categorize, archive, and monitor essential, technical information.

Key Features:

  • IP portfolio management
  • Patent tracking
  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Monitor competitor activity – daily, weekly, or monthly alerts
  • Customizable & searchable fields

Pricing:

Free demo available.

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

Suitable for the R&D, legal, and business teams of companies of all sizes. 

Users’ Perspective

PatentCAM: Powerful and adaptable tool for IP peace of mind”.

  • Technical support and analysis by IP Checkups is topnotch
  • User-friendly and logical
  • Having information in an off-site safe place gives peace of mind
  • If you ask for a feature, they will try to build it

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

You can find a webinar on PatentCAM uploaded by IP Checkups on YouTube.

#6. Sophia 

Wellspring’s IP Management software, Sophia delivers automated docketing processes, easy invention disclosures, streamlined workflows, and visibility on contract obligations. It is a full-service Intellectual Property management software that helps to manage your growing IP portfolio.

Key Features:

  • Configurable
  • Patent tracking
  • Docket management
  • Integrated online disclosures
  • Manage contracts & licenses

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

Best for in-house or corporate patent counsels across all industries. 

Users’ Perspective

More than a place to store information – Sophia as SOP and long-term institutional memory

  • Provides ease of use and logic between the different modules of Intellectual Property Disclosures
  • Scalable and ease of adding other departments as users
  • Keeps us on track in all tech-transfer matters, Intellectual Property management, and agreement processing

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

Source: Wellspring

#7. AcclaimIP 

AcclaimIP from Anaqua helps create better patents, assess the competition’s patent portfolio, and identify the most valuable patents in any portfolio. It provides a collection of search and analytics tools giving you the ability to research patent information faster, with more precision.

Key Features:

  • Speed, ease of use & global patent data
  • Quantitative patent scoring
  • Prosecution analytics

Pricing:

Offers a free trial and Customizable fee structure.

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

Suitable for patent owners, patent researchers, and intellectual property law firms that require patent information research and analysis. 

Users’ Perspective

AcclaimIP has been reviewed as:

  • Intuitive and efficient
  • Search outcomes can be configured in a variety of options
  • Database updates are performed timely
  • Easy to use

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

You can learn more about AcclaimIP here in just two minutes.

#8. Innovator Enterprise

The MindMatters Solutions’ Innovator Enterprise software system is an Intellectual Property management software solution and tool designed to manage, safeguard and protect your intellectual property assets from their inception. Once entered, your invention disclosures are safeguarded within their Intellectual Property management software solution and routed only to those individuals authorized within your invention and patent review decision process to review, analyze, and decide on patent application or trade secret status. It allows you to easily manage the product-to-patent relationship so that new patents are automatically added to product descriptions and bar codes.

Key Features:

  • The snapshot feature allows users to take a “snapshot” or picture of the intellectual property at any point in time to make a permanent record of the document as of the snapshot date
  • The activity log tracks every change made to an invention disclosure or intellectual property record to provide an accurate audit trail for management 
  • Advanced security features govern the departments, locations, and individuals that have access to various types of intellectual assets 

Who Needs this Software

Suitable for corporations and universities involved in innovation, which require their entire innovations and invention process to be managed from the stage of idea inception to obtaining IP protection.

Users’ Perspective

Respironics claimed that their R&D idea submissions have tripled over the whole of the previous year with the use of Innovator Enterprise.

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

Source: MindMatters

#9. DocketTrak

DocketTrak by Decision Design Corporation is a professional docketing system. The software detects any new application you file and creates your DocketTrak record automatically. It receives USPTO e-Office action emails directly into DocketTrak. It also helps to auto calculate patent maintenance fee dates and patent expiration dates.

Key Features:

  • Easy to use
  • DocketForm form letter technology for customized email and word form letters
  • Seamless USPTO and Private PAIR integration with PAIR Connect 3.0
  • Customizable auto docketing
  • Unlimited IP records and client users
  • A daily reminder email of upcoming dockets
  • Integration with USPTO patent e-office action emails

Pricing: 

Offers a free trial.

75 USD per month. 

Deployment: 

Cloud, SaaS, Web-Based.

Who Needs this Software

It is useful for law firms and corporations which require cloud-based intellectual property management & docketing systems including reminders.

Users’ Perspective

A great easy to use IP docketing program

  • Automatically updates deadlines in the docket without the need for manual input
  • Email notifications with upcoming deadlines
  • Form generation

Product Demo Video/Snapshots

You can take a tour of the DocketTrak software here.

Wrap Up

The true value of your Intellectual Property depends on how well your organization can manage and leverage it for successful commercialization. Using these best Intellectual Property management software makes it easier to keep track of your IP filings and avoid unnecessary errors. It also provides you with insight into patent pricing and filtering ideas to eliminate wasteful ideas and focus on commercially viable inventions.

You can organize and manage your IP by selecting one of the tools above, depending on the needs of your organization, making the process quick, easy & hassle-free. As we say here at Triangle IPSay goodbye to complex IP management, say hello to the TIP Tool.’.

Best Intellectual Property Management Software

Salesforce and Jira Alternative for IP Management

“Using Excel, Jira or Salesforce for IP Management is like using a handkerchief in place of a specially designed protective mask to keep the virus away”

Many small to medium-sized enterprises who are just beginning to set up a systematic process for capturing innovation and tracking them through a complete IP life cycle often fall for make-do arrangements like:

  • Excel spreadsheets – Just because it’s versatile, you can arrange the data in tabular format and employees are familiar with its basic functionality
  • Jira – Just because it offers features like workflows, dashboards, reports and the enterprise already has some company process implemented using Jira 
  • Salesforce – same reason as Jira

What you need is not a generic tool but a specific one… 

A tool that’s affordable and tailored to assist enterprises with the patent mining process. The good news is such a tool exists. Before you explore the recommended Jira alternative for IP management let’s understand why do you need to switch.

Also read: Why managing IP using Excel spreadsheets is a bad idea?

Jira for IP Management | Shortcomings

Jira is surely customizable and may be configured to suit the specific needs of any enterprise, including marketing, finance, HR, and legal. It also has all of the features of workflows, dashboards, and reports. These features offered by Jira may be adopted or customized to aid the tracking of innovative ideas within an enterprise.

However, when it comes to IP management, beyond innovation capture, Jira does not cater to IP specific needs as listed below:

  • No intuitive intelligence for managing IP
  • No automatic syncing with the USPTO
  • Too expensive for startups
  • Too complex to use

No Intuitive Intelligence for Managing IP

Being a generic software that can cater to multiple business processes, Jira has no intuitive intelligence for patent management. For example, Jira cannot predict the likelihood of getting a patent, or an estimated time to get the patent granted. 

No Automatic Syncing with the USPTO

Jira does not integrate with the USPTO’s Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system, to enable you to view the status of your patent applications in real-time.

Too Expensive for StartUps

Jira may be expensive for a startup or other small or medium-sized enterprise. With Jira’s pricing model, a startup may incur significant monthly or annual costs. Also, a startup may have to recruit a developer to assist with the setup, customization, and management of the software.

Too Complex to Use

According to Hubstaff, Jira’s complexity is the most common complaint amongst its users. 

Salesforce for IP Management | Shortcomings

Salesforce is a customer relationship management (CRM) software at its core. However,  an advantage of Salesforce is that it can be customized for different internal needs of an enterprise. The ease of customization makes it a flexible tool that may be adopted for IP management. 

However, similar to Jira, Salesforce was not designed to assist enterprises with IP management, therefore the suitability of its features may not be compared with a tool specifically designed for IP management.

Expensive to Customize

Customizing the tool to suit an enterprise’s needs takes tens to thousands of hours and comes at an additional cost. In addition, the purchase of a Salesforce license comes at a very heavy cost. With its per-user pricing model, Salesforce may be more suited to larger enterprises that rely on the software daily for the management of current and prospective customers. It may not be suitable for a startup, a small or medium-sized enterprise desiring to manage IP.

No Integration with the USPTO PAIR

Like Jira, Salesforce also does not integrate with the USPTO’s Patent Application Information Retrieval (PAIR) system, to keep track of patent application updates like issuance of office actions.

The TIP Tool – Best Salesforce, Jira Alternative 

The TIP tool is an intuitive drag-and-drop tool to simplify the IP management process. It assists enterprises to convert their best ideas into patents, by enabling them to capture innovative ideas, vet the idea for patent registration, facilitate the secure exchange of patent drafts with patent prosecutors, and manage a patent portfolio. It is an excellent Salesforce and Jira alternative for IP management.

The TIP tool comes with a variety of useful features and functionalities. To name a special few:

Patent Analytics for Informed IP Decisions

The TIP tool comes with patent analytics that assists enterprises in managing their IP budget wisely. With the TIP tool you can easily figure out:

  • Likelihood, associated costs, and expected time of getting a patent
  • What can work with an examiner to progress the patent application towards grant
  • How is your patent application faring at the USPTO

Such insights come really handy in crafting your patent strategy.

Patent case analytics available in the TIP Tool - a Jira alternative

Also Read: The 12 Essential Features of an IP Management Software

Real-Time Collaboration

The TIP tool also permits team collaboration on ideas in real-time. For example, when an inventor and attorney are discussing the patentability of an idea, the TIP tool allows them to edit the same piece of text within the software with their thoughts and inputs, in real-time.

Real-time collaboration available in the TIP Tool - a Jira alternative

Intuitive Invention Disclosure Form

Long and complex invention disclosure forms discourage inventors from submitting inventions for patent protection. The TIP tool offers an intuitive invention disclosure form that increases engagement from innovators. In fact, you can also customize the TIP tool’s idea capture form to suit your enterprise’s internal needs.

Intuitive Invention Disclosure Form available in the TIP Tool - a Jira alternative

Role-Based Access

Furthermore, with the TIP tool, an enterprise may keep certain strategic patent portfolio data confidential, by using the role-based access feature in the software. Therefore, an innovator who is also an employee within the enterprise may be restricted from accessing ideas developed by other innovators in the enterprise.

Role Based Access available in the TIP Tool - a Jira alternative

Presented below is a table that gives you a fair idea of the benefits that come with the TIP tool – a preferred JIRA alternative.

Jira v. Salesforce v. The TIP Tool

FunctionalityJiraSalesforceThe TIP Tool
Provides an intuitive invention disclosure formCan be implementedCan be implementedYes
Tells you the likelihood of getting a patentNoNoYes
Predicts the end-to-end patent costsNoNoYes
Helps you track ideas through a complete IP lifecycleCan be partially  implemented, with no automatic updates from the USPTO Can be partially  implemented, with no automatic updates from the USPTO Yes
Automatically stays in sync with the USPTONoNoYes
Provides specific details on patent statusNoNoYes
Tells you how your application is doing at the USPTONoNoYes
PricingExpensiveExpensiveFreemium model, ~ $40 per month

Conclusion

At Triangle IP, we very well understand the needs and constraints of small to medium-sized enterprises for managing IP. The TIP tool is an intuitive drag and drop tool specially designed to aid intellectual property management, from idea capture to portfolio management. It is a must-try Jira alternative for IP management. Happy to share that we recently released the TIP Tool version 2.0 – Would you like to be an early adopter? Join us, try out the tool, share your valuable feedback with us!

12 Essential Features of IP Management Software

Pro Tip: Patent analytics is one of the essential features of IP management software to fetch actionable intelligence!

It is no secret that to stay on top of the game, every organization needs to tap into the full potential of its innovators. Innovation management requires a systematic business process to track ideas through patents, which some term as ‘patent mining’. However, your patent mining process might be broken because of things like: 

  • Complex Invention Disclosure Forms (IDFs)
  • Ineffective collaboration among members from different departments like – engineering, business, legal, etc.
  • No set process to track ideas progress through complete IP workflow – Capturing, Vetting, Patent Drafting, Patent Filing, and Patent Portfolio Managing
  • Security risks like confidential data being leaked
  • Stale PAIR data due to dependency on a human resource to pull out the information

To make your patent mining process robust you need to provide the right training and resources to your team. As they say, well begun is half done. Identifying the right IP management software shall be instrumental to your patent mining process. Here are 12 essential features of IP management software:

  1. Intuitive idea submission form
  2. Customizable idea capture form
  3. Effective collaboration to refine the ideas
  4. Ease of thorough vetting
  5. Role-based access
  6. End-to-end tracking from ideas to patents and beyond
  7. Automatic updates – in sync with USPTO
  8. Cost estimation
  9. Tags to ease filtering
  10. Case analytics
  11. Detailed examiner analytics
  12. Dashboards for a holistic view

#1. Intuitive Idea Submission Form

Also known as the Invention Disclosure Form (IDF), an ideal idea submission form is simple, intuitive, and engaging. The IDF captures the necessary details about the invention. It requires the innovator to describe the problem, solution, and enhanced features over existing solutions. A great IDF is the one that inventors don’t feel any friction to fill.

#2. Customizable Idea Capture Form

A good IP management software allows customization of the Invention Disclosure Form (IDF) as per the needs of your organization. The software might be providing a form that has necessary fields that are commonly used by various organizations. However, there could be certain fields, one might wish to add to that existing form. An idea capture form that can be personalized as per an organisation’s internal requirements is something you should look for.  It should be possible to incorporate the company’s internal nomenclature so that no training is required for staff.

For example, The TIP idea form offers a summary field to share details about the invention. However, you might wish to have the invention details divided into sections like – 1. Problem 2. Solution and 3. Advantages. Each expected to be captured by different form fields. The software should provide an option to customize the form as per your needs.

#3. Effective Collaboration to Refine the Ideas

Imagine editing functionality just like “Google docs” – Two or more people can simultaneously edit the same document. Changes made by each person can be tracked. Version history can be maintained.  Having similar functionality in an IP management software can be extremely helpful. Example: When an inventor, an attorney and an associate are discussing an idea, each one can edit the same piece of text within the software with their thoughts and inputs. None of them need to take notes manually and edit the idea text later.

#4. Ease of Thorough Vetting

The software must provide a way for collaborators to exchange ideas over an idea or a patent draft for that matter. Ability to add comments can go a long way to facilitate this.

#5. Role-Based Access

If your organization wants to keep certain strategic patent portfolio data confidential, a key feature to look for in the IP management software is role-based access. The software will allow only that part of the information to be visible to the person accessing the software, which is required as per his/her role. The confidential information will be visible only to the key personnel.  For instance, an organization may require that an inventor should be able to see only the patent portfolios that he is a part of, not the whole company’s.

On a side note: Would you want to know how your patent application is progressing at the USPTO compared to other applications in the same domain? 

The TIP tool offers statistics of the law firm and the examiner handling your case. Once the application is filed at the USPTO, and an examiner is allotted to your case, the tool indicates the relative performance of the law firm handling your case. The statistics revolve around the number of arguments, grant rate, and grant time. The tool also indicates the case health, for instance, it can tell you if a case needs your attention. There is a whole bunch of insights that you can gather from the TIP tool for strategic patent prosecution.

Request insights for any of your cases at the patent office using the form below.

#6. End-to-End Tracking from Ideas to Patents and Beyond

A process-driven IP management software will take your organization a long way. It should ideally facilitate the tracking of the idea from its inception till patenting and beyond. For an IP workflow ideas & patents need to be tracked through the following stages:

  • Capturing of idea
  • Evaluation and vetting of the idea/invention
  • Drafting of patent application
  • Filing of the patent application
  • Managing the patent portfolio

A quick view into the patent portfolio as shown below shall be an added benefit. Taking this to the next level shall be an in-depth view of each case (See #10. Case Analytics).

Triangle IP is going to release an upgraded version soon with all the features mentioned here. Click on the image below to get exclusive access!

#7. Automatic Updates – In Sync with USPTO

Wouldn’t it be easier if the IP management software also provided the updates regarding the status of your applications from the USPTO PAIR? An intellectual property management software can have integrated tools to provide automatic updates to help track the progress of the application. It will also help in notifying about any PTO rejections received. This feature will allow you to have everything in one place instead of tracking various activities throughout the innovation process.

#8. Cost Estimation

Knowing the cost of patenting an invention and the average allowance rate in the domain can ease out your patenting decisions. Patent analytics help in predicting the cost that helps managers and business owners manage the budget accordingly. Look for an intellectual property management software that offers this functionality.

#9. Tags to Ease Filtering

Tagging the ideas/patents with keywords helps to filter out the ideas/patents around a particular technology or product or business function etc. An IP management software must be able to pull this information out for you with the click of a button.

#10. Case Analytics

Say you filed a patent application with the help of a law firm. In your intellectual property  management software dashboard, you see that the application is still pending with 4 office actions after 3 years of prosecution. You would be curious to see the general ‘health’ of your application. To know how other applications have fared in that domain. Also, what would be good to know is the performance of the law firm handling your patent application. If you see that other applications, on average, had one office action and were granted in 2 years; you would be in a better position to discuss and strategize with the patent attorney. This shall help you to find a way to speed up the prosecution. Hence, while looking for an intellectual property management software check if it provides law firm analytics as well.

#11. Detailed Examiner Analytics

Knowing more about the USPTO examiner handling your application helps you understand how you should be handling the prosecution. It helps your patent attorney take the best approach with respect to the assigned examiner. When your IP management software can provide examiner analytics, it will give you pointers to strategize patent prosecution. For instance, examiner analytics can help you understand if prioritizing the examiner  interview can fasten the prosecution process.

#12. Dashboards for a Holistic View

A key feature to look for in an IP management software is dashboards. Dashboards provide a holistic view of your idea pipeline, the filed USPTO applications as well as patents. These dashboards can help you get a pulse of the quality of the ideas submitted, probable roadblocks and your inventor activity. These help you take decisions/make changes accordingly.

Wrap Up – Essential Features of IP Management Software:

A patent mining process is broken in the absence of software that streamlines the journey of ideas to patents. An IP management software allows your organization to capture, evaluate, and further them for patenting and beyond. Hope that this list of essential features of IP management software shall be helpful to you in making an informed decision. Triangle IP is coming up with a version soon – that covers all these features and more! Register here to get early access to all these features for free for a limited time! Stay updated with the latest features of the Triangle IP tool and its subsequent releases. Sign up for the newsletter!

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

Invention Disclosure Sample: Open Your Patent Pipeline Right

‘It’s not about ideas, it’s about making ideas happen’ – Scott Belsky

Getting invention disclosures to capture your innovation is the first step of the patent mining process. To make sure you are receiving enough disclosures, you need an intuitive disclosure system. One that inventors, R&D staff, and other stakeholders engage with effortlessly.

Thomas Franklin, the founder of Triangle IP, has worked with many inventors over the 25 years of his patent prosecution experience. He observed that long and complex forms intimidate inventors and discourage them from completing the task. Hence, we at TriangleIP (TIP) have created an innovation management software with an inventor-friendly invention disclosure form (IDF). We provide an invention disclosure sample in this post filled with sample information for your convenience.

Putting the right foot forward for the patent program requires a simple and engaging IDF. We need to make sure that inventors capture innovation as part of their job to help us commercialize that inventive idea. The IDF designed at TIP, is driven by empathy towards inventors by being simple, engaging, and intuitive. 

Invention Disclosure Sample:

Here is an invention disclosure sample. The first half of the invention disclosure sample, including the summary, can be filled by the inventor. The next half serves to capture feedback from the manager and IP counsel on the invention.

Invention Disclosure Sample
Triangle IP – Invention Disclosure Sample

The invention disclosure form provided at ‘TIP – Innovation Management Software’ requires the following information:

Idea Number:

Idea number is a unique tracking identifier for each idea submitted in the portfolio. The purpose is to make sure that ideas have their own unique code or identifier.  This number may be determined by other software systems our the docketing system.

Title:

The purpose of the title is to briefly describe the invention. Example – “Improved System for detecting the position of other vehicles on the road”. It should be apparent what the ‘invention’ is all about from the title alone.

Inventor Email:

This field captures the contact information of all associated inventors to facilitate further communication.  The inventor need not be a current user of the TIP tool.  Adding their email address will give them access to the idea.

Manager Email:

This field captures the manager’s email address responsible for reviewing the inventor’s idea, approving budget or otherwise progressing the idea to a patent application. Every enterprise has its structure. The inventors have busy schedules, and patent protection might not be their priority. To ensure that the potential inventions receive patent protection, the managers need to push them forward. Any user of the TIP tool can be given manager rights by another manager or administrator.

Summary:

The summary field captures a brief description of the idea to help the manager or prosecutor understand the invention. The summary can include:

  • The problem that prompted the idea or invention
  • The technical solution to the problem that is the invention
  • How the invention will be implemented (if figured out)
  • The enhanced or novel features that don’t appear in competing products
  • The advantages of their invention over prior solutions. 

Additionally, The TIP innovation management software allows attaching documents such as patent drafts, detailed working, and invention drawings.

Quick Update: The inventors can upload this offline form back into the TIP Tool to have all their ideas in one place.

Prosecutor Email:

This field captures the patent prosecutor’s email address responsible for drafting the application.

Value:

This field helps the managers and IP counsels to rate the idea between 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. It is a subjective value to the enterprise of a patent on a particular idea. The enterprise can assess the value of the invention based on its: 

  • Usefulness
  • Feasibility
  • Commercialization potential 
  • Alignment with enterprise’s business and policies

Tags:

The tags are to provide the searchable keywords for the idea. These tags help to filter and organize your portfolio. Quickly search for a particular technology or business vertical that was previously tagged.

Patentable:

This field reflects on the likelihood of the idea being issued a patent, between 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. The IP counsel assesses the idea’s patentability based on novelty and non-obviousness with respect to the prior art and the patent office’s receptiveness to this type of technology.

Filing Deadline:

This includes any filing goal that might be driven by publication, release, or offers for sale. In the case of commercially viable ideas, the enterprise can set its goals for the production, launch, and sale of the invention.

On a side note: Would you want to know how your patent application is progressing at the USPTO compared to other applications in the same domain? 

The TIP tool offers statistics of the law firm and the examiner handling your case. Once the application is filed at the USPTO, and an examiner is allotted to your case, the tool indicates the relative performance of the law firm handling your case. The statistics revolve around the number of arguments, grant rate, and grant time. The tool also indicates the case health, for instance, it can tell you if a case needs your attention. There is a whole bunch of insights that you can gather from the TIP tool for strategic patent prosecution.

Request insights for any of your cases at the patent office using the form below.

Let’s Sum it Up:

Presented above is a simple, engaging & inventor-friendly invention disclosure sample. It has all the necessary details for invention disclosures you must seek. However, if your enterprise requires more fields in the IDF, the TIP innovation management software will soon offer customization. Your admin will have the flexibility to add custom fields to our simple innovation form to cater to their enterprises’ specific requirements.

Exciting Features Of TIP Tool –

  • Simple capture with no intimidating fields
  • The offline IDF will soon be readable back into the TIP tool
  • Online collaboration and workflow with role-based control and security
  • Allows for attaching additional documents to explain the idea or invention
  • Links ideas and attachments to patent filings for later reference

Thomas Edison rightly said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” Give  TIP tool a try to capture innovations by your inventors. Simplify your patent mining process with its easy workflow and drag-and-drop features. Also, the invention disclosure form at TIP is downloadable, as an offline version, both in word and excel. 

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

Idea Evaluation: 6 Questions to ask while Selecting Ideas for Patents

Is your ideas to budget ratio usually skewed – in favor of ideas? Evaluating ideas for patentability becomes a brain-drain exercise in such a scenario. However, selecting the right ideas will most efficiently put your budget to work. This post lays out a framework to help you choose ideas for patenting that have the most potential.

Most enterprises choose to evaluate patents after they issue, which is much easier than at the beginning of the process where ideas are selected for patenting. The ideas that will be the most valuable as patents require speculation. The ultimate claim scope and importance of an innovation to market success requires educated guesses at the beginning of the process.  The risk factor is almost always high.

So how do you make sure to minimize the risk while evaluating ideas for patentability? Ask these 6 questions:

  1. What is the value of your idea in the marketplace?
  2. How core is it to your business and its revenue?
  3. Is it already in a product or in a roadmap for commercialization?
  4. How ‘observable’ is your idea if a competitor were to copy it?
  5. What is the likelihood of a successful patent grant on your idea?
  6. How enforceable will your patent be?

Value of your idea in the marketplace

Imagine your product on a shelf next to similar products – would the innovation get someone to buy your product? Is it easier to use, cheaper, faster, or better in a way that would motivate a purchase?

Select the idea, if you can visualize that it would make your product the preferred choice for customers. To determine this, ask if your patent is going to cover a key feature of the product? Ask if it is useful or game-changing enough to be a steady contributor to your business revenue. Will the unique product drive over the next twenty years?

Evaluating Ideas for Patentability | Q1 - Will idea make your product a preferred choice for customers?

A great way to assess how much value your idea has is by working backward from what your marketing team has to say about it. For example, the tagline for your product might be, ’It’s twice as fast as the competition!’ Work back to the innovation that enables that boast to the market. If you find that the patent if issued would protect that innovation, you know you have a winner. Having a market-driven approach is the right one to have when assessing ideas for protection. If your marketing team can’t say much about your innovation, there might be another idea more worthy of your budget. 

How core is the idea to your business?

Some ideas in your repository may be revolutionary. Some of your broadest innovation may happen in parts of the business that may have little market potential. These revolutionary ideas are not always synonymous with big profits. On the other hand, there may be ideas that don’t seem revolutionary but can protect large portions of the company’s profits. So, it becomes imperative to weigh ideas against potential profit and growth of the business that they would protect. 

Evaluating Ideas for Patentability | Q2 - Is idea revolutionary or revenue generating?

Imagine this. A leading company sells inkjet printers. But they generate the largest chunk of their revenue from ink sales, not the printers which are sold at a loss. They may have revolutionary ideas for their printers without any corresponding profit. So ideas in this space are not as valuable. However, if they were to come up with an idea to make the ink in the disposable cartridge cure quicker…knock-off replacements would smear or otherwise not have the performance of the genuine product. Not the most revolutionary idea, but definitely one that is great for the business as it protects a higher margin product.  

Apart from revenue building, there are some ideas that may be an intrinsic part of your business identity. One that is important to dominate for your brand.  Ask if this is one of them. What value, if any, will it have over the next couple of decades without that product anchoring your business?  For example, a car brand may sponsor a competitive racing team and protect their winning edge even if it may never be used in the production automobiles.  Winning races drives customers to want your cars even if they bear little resemblance.

Is the idea going to be commercialized?

There may be a ton of great ideas from your innovators, but not every idea will be an important product/addition for the next 20 years. If you cannot imagine how to put your innovation into a product, it is almost certain that there is no revenue that it will generate. Investing resources in acquiring a patent for such an idea is of no value. But an idea that contributes to a product your business currently offers or something that is just to be released automatically becomes a frontrunner. Here’s a threshold test – Are there plans to put your innovation into a product? If yes, spend your IP budget trying to protect it.

Timing is everything in the innovation to patent journey. The closer the release date of the product your idea is related to, the more valuable it is as a patent. Once your product is released in the market, the idea that it carries becomes subject to duplication and any innovation starts becoming part of the public domain. So the release of an idea into the market without patent protection could be hazardous. The bottom line is if innovation cannot go into a product, any patent would only be wall art.

Evaluating Ideas for Patentability | Q3 - Is idea related to the product about to be released?

How ‘observable’ is your idea?

Observability is a big factor as you’re thinking about ideas to choose for patent protection. Prioritizing the ones that can be observed allows ascertaining infringement should that be necessary. For instance, your company has developed a chip that goes deep into a data center used in an enterprise. Say your competitor is using this chip. How likely are you to find it out? Consequently, will you be able to assert your patent against them? The answer, highly unlikely. 

When you are looking to build your patent portfolio, look for ideas that will be readily identifiable. So if you are looking at internal processes or small innovations like the chip, it may be a better business decision to treat them as trade secrets. Unidentifiable innovation should not eat into your budget. 

Evaluating Ideas for Patentability | Q4 - Is the idea observable?

How likely is a patent granting on your idea?

It’s important to be aware of the kinds of patents being issued by patent offices. There are some technology areas in which patent offices are wary about issuing patents. For example, patent offices are reluctant to issue patents for business methods, some therapeutics and certain kinds of software. Then there are things that are not patentable at all. Genes, human-performed medical procedures, tax optimization schemes, etc. It is thus imperative to know beforehand what is patentable before investing in a patent for your idea. 

Evaluating Ideas for Patentability | Q5 - Is the Idea Patentable?

There are tools available to help you ascertain these statistics. At Triangle IP, the  TIP Tool has it on the feature roadmap! With this feature, the TIP tool predicts the Patentability Score on your innovations. This score will be based on how likely similar technology gains allowance as a patent. Knowing the patentability score shall ease out your decision-making process.

How enforceable will a patent be for your idea?

Certain technology is difficult to enforce, generally, even where a patent is issued. Courts are likely to overturn patent claims in certain cases. Software, especially abstract software concepts, business methods, and the like are difficult to enforce presently. Knowing that a patent will be difficult to enforce should be considered.

The cost of the patent should always be outweighed by the volume of profit that the patent can generate. Patenting cost includes all the resources that you will need to invest in the patent journey. Protect something valuable enough such that damages models will support enforcement of the patent.  Some innovation although great, can never overcome the cost of getting the patent.

Evaluating Ideas for Patentability | Q6 - How enforceable will your idea be as a patent?

Thinking about what damages might be enforced if it ever reaches such a stage could also be a deciding factor. The amount of damages will also be largely dependent on how your patent claims are constructed and other legal issues. A great idea that has all the potential to be a powerful patent in your arsenal can be broken if the claims are constructed improperly or if there is some other legal flaw. Read this for tips and tricks to draft a high-quality patent application

Evaluating Ideas For Patentability | Wrap Up

While this is not an exhaustive list of questions for you to consider when evaluating ideas for patentability, it’s a good place to start. More specific questions will be born from the specific needs of your business that may change from time to time. Think long term (at least 20 years) when evaluating ideas for patentability. Channel resources wisely so that money spent can result in revenue that contributes to your resource pool for the future.

At Triangle IP, we have a value field to score ideas. The value field can be 1 to 10 based on the answers to these questions.  Many of these factors can be considered and weighted according to priorities within your enterprise.

On a side note: Would you want to know how your patent application is progressing at the USPTO compared to other applications in the same domain? 

The TIP tool offers statistics of the law firm and the examiner handling your case. Once the application is filed at the USPTO, and an examiner is allotted to your case, the tool indicates the relative performance of the law firm handling your case. The statistics revolve around the number of arguments, grant rate, and grant time. The tool also indicates the case health, for instance, it can tell you if a case needs your attention. There is a whole bunch of insights that you can gather from the TIP tool for strategic patent prosecution.

Request insights for any of your cases at the patent office using the form below.

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

5 Ways To Get Effective Invention Disclosures from Your R&D Team

Getting effective invention disclosures is a challenge if your inventors don’t engage with the innovation capture process. As an innovation manager, you need to fill the innovation funnel with potentially patentable ideas. So, what do you do?

Let’s explore what makes an effective invention disclosure and how you can get enough of those! 

Effective Invention Disclosure:

An effective invention disclosure captures the novelty, advantages, and utility of the invention. It has to be explained well enough such that those who approve patent filings can understand the invention and how it is strategic to the enterprise. To put it simply, an ideal invention disclosure clearly and precisely describes:

  • The problem that the idea solves
  • How the idea solves the problem
  • How the invention operates
  • The enhanced features in comparison to existing alternatives

How to Make Sure You Get Effective Invention Disclosures?

Here are five ways to improve the quality of the invention disclosures at your organization:

  1. Inventor-focused education 
  2. Walk it through – contextualization 
  3. Timely assistance
  4. Example invention disclosures
  5. Two-way communication between the inventor(s) and innovation manager
TIP Tool Americano Banner

#1. Training And Education

It takes training to obtain effective invention disclosures. Education should be inventor-focused. Explain the patent program and the invention disclosure form to your inventors. Provide insight into how the patent process works. Such an exercise increases engagement. 

Conduct the training at regular intervals including at new employee orientation to keep everyone updated with the patent policy of the organization. Create guidelines for filling the invention disclosure form to demystify what is needed.

An effective invention disclosure requires a summary of the invention while highlighting its unique features. Also, encourage the inventors to attach detailed documents and drawings to provide an excellent description. Graphic representation leads to better understanding. It should quickly identify the problem, solution, and enhanced features compared to the conventional solutions. The inventors need to explain how the invention works and the value of pursuing a patent.

#2. Walk It Through

Contextualization is key. Apart from training and educating the inventors on filling the invention disclosure forms, you need to explain why it is essential. The inventors need to understand that the invention disclosure is part of a larger process crucial to the success of the enterprise.

Good quality invention disclosures help to:

  • Explain the new innovation
  • Simplify the evaluation process of patentability of the invention
  • Emphasize the chances at successful commercialization
  • Speed up the process by including all essential information

When the inventors understand the motivation behind good quality disclosures, they will be keener to write them better.  The better the innovation disclosure, the more likely that their idea is approved for patenting.

Tips for Effective Invention Disclosure: Explain why Invention Disclosure is essential

#3. Timely Assistance

Ensuring quick assistance when there is any confusion will speed capture by innovators. Often the inventors struggle with completing invention disclosures as they are not used to framing their contribution in the way. Make sure the inventors know where to seek help when they need it. Your organization can either appoint in-house personnel or outsource the task to IP professionals such as the patent attorney who drafts your patents. Establishing a good working relationship between the inventor and patent attorney will give the inventors insight into the essentials requirements for the invention capture.

Tips for Effective Invention Disclosure: Ensuring quick and timely assistance

#4. Examples

Provide the inventors and R&D staff with sample invention disclosures, where patents have been obtained successfully. If the corresponding product  is well known in the enterprise, that always helps.  Keep the invention disclosure form brief and straightforward, capturing only the necessary information. Allow them to include detailed documentation for the invention and drawings separately. At Triangle IP, we have created a simple, engaging, and customizable invention disclosure form (IDF), which is downloadable in both excel and word formats. Long and complex IDFs often discourage the inventors from filing invention disclosures. A well-written sample invention disclosure can be the yardstick for future disclosures to ensure high quality. 

Tips for Effective Invention Disclosure: Providing staff with sample invention disclosures

#5. Two Way Communication

Try to understand the reasons behind low-quality invention disclosures in your enterprise. Address the issues of the inventors to tailor the process to how they are accustomed to doing things. Keep the channel of communication open between inventors and innovation managers with transparency in the process. It allows them to understand each other’s perspectives and how innovation progresses through the process. There has to be clarity about the expectations from the inventors with visibility as their ideas mature into patents. The innovation managers should also be aware of the enablers and blockers of invention disclosure to capture more innovation. The invention disclosure process has to be two-way communication.

Tips for Effective Invention Disclosure: Two Way Communication

On a side note: Would you want to know how your patent application is progressing at the USPTO compared to other applications in the same domain? 

The TIP tool offers statistics of the law firm and the examiner handling your case. Once the application is filed at the USPTO, and an examiner is allotted to your case, the tool indicates the relative performance of the law firm handling your case. The statistics revolve around the number of arguments, grant rate, and grant time. The tool also indicates the case health, for instance, it can tell you if a case needs your attention. There is a whole bunch of insights that you can gather from the TIP tool for strategic patent prosecution.

Request insights for any of your cases at the patent office using the form below.

Takeaway:

The better the invention disclosure, the easier it is for the innovation manager to push it through to a patent. The more information you can get into the process, the easier it is to evaluate and draft the patent application. The quality of the input data determines the quality of the output.

An effective invention disclosure should:

  • Provide a solid background and characteristics of the invention 
  • Contain proper technical description, which is the heart of invention disclosure
  • Explain the key terms and jargon
  • Include a list of any known relevant prior art and how the invention is different
  • Be reviewer-friendly so the value to the enterprise is clear
  • Include diagrams or other pre-existing documentation

Find out ways to encourage more invention disclosures in the organization. Don’t miss out on patent protection due to a lack of invention disclosures or poorly filled disclosures.

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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A Guide to Launching a Patent Incentive Program

guide to patent reward program

Innovation is anything but business as usual. Here’s a step-by-step guide to launching a patent incentive program to promote innovation. 

Here’s an effective 4 point blueprint:

  1. Capture Ideas

Patents have become an increasingly vital aspect of business. In a competitive and fast-moving industry, protecting a company’s intellectual capital and encouraging innovation is crucial to the unimpeded growth of your business.  For strategic reasons, your company should carefully document innovative business-related ideas that your employees create and consider converting those ideas into patents.

  1. Evaluate Ideas

Set up a company patent committee that evaluates ideas submitted by employees, directs the filing of patent applications and manages your patent program.  Seek help in setting one up, if you do not have an in-house patent committee. Ensure that ideas are evaluated with an objective criteria to find the ideas most likely to protect the intellectual capital of the company within budgetary confines.

  1. Ensure Company Wide Participation

Invite all employees to submit ideas, using Invention Disclosure Forms.  Set up this infrastructure to ensure all employees across the board have access to these resources. Educate your personnel about the existence, availability and instructions of use of these tools

  1. Create a Reward Structure

Design an incentive policy or inventor bonus to encourage ideation among employees in your company. Although every idea submitted will not result in the writing of a patent; documenting and developing these ideas helps your company focus on our innovation and competitive advantage.

Here are some suggestions on how you can go about doing this. 

Divide the patent process into phases with a different reward structure for each phase, for example:

Phase One : Submission of Invention Idea

Set out criteria and requirements for submission of an idea to the Patent Committee or equivalent. Later the committee can pick the most promising innovation for protection. An important requirement is that the inventor provides enough technical detail to allow a proper understanding of the invention. You can choose a suitable Invention Disclosure Form template to record invention details.

Phase Two : Filing of Patent Application

Criteria for an inventor incentive under this category could include filing of a non-provisional US Patent application along with the signing of the requisite documents requested by the Committee by the employee/inventor. 

Phase Three : Issuance of Patent

If a patent application is successful you can give larger incentives. Criteria could include the event in which the Patent Office grants a patent without the Company abandoning the application.

The company can decide the type of incentives. Incentives can include cash reward, formal recognition or other benefits, proportionately set out for each phase. Presented below is a sample table that lays out the patent incentive program. 

Phase 1 : Submission of an Invention Idea

[1] All COMPANY employees are eligible to participate in the COMPANY Patent Incentive Program.

[2] Patents may only be applied for by actual inventors, and patent laws heavily penalize patent holders where actual inventorship is misrepresented during the process of applying for the patent.

Phase 2 - Filing of Patent Application

[3] Where COMPANY determines to file a provisional patent application, the Phase B reward would be payable at such later time, if any, as COMPANY converts the provisional patent application to a non-provisional patent application.

[4] Phase B reward applies solely to filing of patent applications in the United States, and not filings in any other countries.  Continuation and Divisional applications are not eligible for an incentive.

Phase 3 - Issuance of Patent

[5] Employee inventor(s) must cooperate in prosecuting the patent in the United States and abroad as requested by the Committee to remain eligible for a Phase C incentive.

[6] Only one Phase C monetary award is possible per employee inventor per patent application filed such that any continuation or divisional of the original patent application could not result in further awards.

On a side note: Would you want to know how your patent application is progressing at the USPTO compared to other applications in the same domain? 

The TIP tool offers statistics of the law firm and the examiner handling your case. Once the application is filed at the USPTO, and an examiner is allotted to your case, the tool indicates the relative performance of the law firm handling your case. The statistics revolve around the number of arguments, grant rate, and grant time. The tool also indicates the case health, for instance, it can tell you if a case needs your attention. There is a whole bunch of insights that you can gather from the TIP tool for strategic patent prosecution.

Request insights for any of your cases at the patent office using the form below.

Let’s Sum it Up

When creating a patent incentive program, you must make all terms and conditions of the program clear to the employees. Inventors will scrutinize the rules so leave no room for confusion.

Let the company retain the sole right to delete, suspend, discontinue or revise any of all provisions in the company ‘Patent Incentive Program’ at any time, for any reason, with or without notice.  Consider posting the latest policy on the company intranet.  The company patent committee must have the sole discretion to choose the ideas for filing as patents, choose which countries to file into, and to abandon patent applications when deemed warranted.

Remind your employees about the existence of the company patent program with an orientation at hiring and follow-up training.  Patentable ideas are among the company’s most sensitive information, and everyone must treat them with the utmost confidentiality.

At TriangleIP we have designed an intuitive drag and drop innovation management software to take care of your patent mining process. Definitely give it a try!

Infographic - Structure your own patent incentive program

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

22 Tips to Master the 5 Skills of Disruptive Innovators

Become a disruptive innovator by mastering these 5 discovery skills

History is evident that disruptive innovators have the ability to change the world for better; be it Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk…

In his farewell letter to his employees, Jeff Bezos talked about innovation being the root of Amazon’s success. “We’ve done crazy things together, he said, and then made them normal.” Steve Jobs is always remembered for his words about innovators and trailblazers about whom he says “…while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Most people say – ‘Disruptive Innovators’ are wired differently. However, I feel what we are calling as wired differently is just a capability to see things from multiple perspectives. 

Clayton has called these perspectives “Discovery Skills”, in the book “The Innovator’s DNA”. Clayton claims if you can acquire these skills, you can also think like disruptive innovators. This implies if we can teach them to our teams, we can make our organization more innovative. Let’s see what are these ‘Discovery Skills’ and how we can teach them to our people:

  • Associating
  • Questioning
  • Observing
  • Networking
  • Experimenting

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #1 Associating

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #1 Associating

Being at the cusp of different disciplines and finding ways to associate them to create ideas that are out of the box is the first discovery skill. How do you train your mind to do this?

Tip #1 – Force New Associations

Combine things that you wouldn’t usually put together. Look around your home and life and find the two most used gadgets but unlikely to be used as a single one and force your mind to make the best possible association. We are picking a refrigerator and Google Home.

Refrigerator + Google Home

Let’s of think some potential associations:

  • How about talking to the refrigerator just the way we talk to Google Home and asking – “How many cartons of milk are left in the fridge?” instead of opening the fridge and checking ourselves.
  • Or how about asking the fridge to ring a bell when your home made ice-cream is set and ready to dig into? Just the way we ask Google Home to set timers.

As a systematic approach, create a table as follows. Pick a problem(s) you are facing, identify a random item or idea. For inspiration, look around you.  Now try to come up with an association of these two. Here are some examples for your reference:

Unsolved problemUnrelated random item or ideaPotential Association
How do I get more users to download my new mobile adventure treasure hunt gaming app?Running shoesCreate a feature where the game uses the phone camera as a projector and allows the user to treat it as a VR experience. 
How do I prepare my workforce for a post covid comeback?House plantCreate a temperature controlled outdoor, socially distanced workspace where masks need not be worn. Create an atmosphere that feels safe and comfortable and makes your workforce want to be present. 
……Your turn…….………………

Tip #2 – Take on a Different Persona

Take on a different persona. Even by physically altering the way you look and dress, you can force yourself to think like someone you are not. For example, if you’re looking for design innovations with a twist of utility, dress in a black t-shirt and blue jeans for a week so you can feel like Steve Jobs. Let his association of learning calligraphy to subsequently create fonts on his computers inspire you.

Tip #3 – Generate Metaphors and Analogies

Find ways to look at things from an uncommon perspective. Use metaphors and analogies to think of products that you could revolutionize. Ever thought of an AI powered smart ceiling lamp that can watch over patients? The device being smart enough to know if the patients are sitting, standing or laying down and to call out for help if they fall down. 

List of Products (“What if” Metaphor)Possible New Features/Benefits
What if” we aren’t controlling video game characters using a remote, but with our brains? What if they just so happen to be going exactly where we want, when we wanted?Mind control gaming with increased efficiency and lesser need of hand eye coordination
Device-less, play from anywhere, unrestricted game time 
What if” 
………Your turn……..………

Tip #4 – Build Your Own Curiosity Box

Collect and put together things from your travels and explorations, things that may not be useful even. Put them together in a box to trigger your curiosity or even display them where they jump out at you everyday. When faced with a problem, look at them and allow them to let you come up with out-of-the-box solutions. 

Explore-Simulated-Version-of-TIP-Tool

Tip #5 – Use SCAMPER to Generate Breakthrough Ideas

SCAMPER! Substitute. Combine. Adapt. Magnify, Minimize, Modify. Put to other uses. Eliminate. Reverse, Rearrange. An acronym to inspire innovation and generate insight, use the concepts that this acronym stands for to rethink and allow you a fresh perspective to a problem you may be facing. 

SCAMPER ChallengeInvent a new type of Vending Machine  
SubstituteSubstitute salespersons at stores with vending machines – unmanned and cashless stores
CombineSell advertisement space by installing a screen
 
AdaptInstall QR codes/screens for digital payments
Magnify, minimize, modifyModify receiving tray to be soft and padded to minimize breakage of delicate items
Put to other useTurn traditional vending machine into fresh juicer by replacing packaged food and drink with fresh fruit and juicing mechanism
EliminateEliminate the keypad to punch in codes for products. Maybe use a touchscreen for product selection.
Reverse, rearrangeInstead of taking stuff out of a vending machine, humans get inside and use it as plug and play office

You might also like to read this post on “Innovations in Aerogels With SCAMPER”.

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #2 Questioning

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #2 Questioning

Questioning is the art of learning. Questions seek and frame and expose. Answers change over time, with varying degrees of accuracy and subjectivity. But ask the right questions and you will be amazed how the doors to innovation open. 

Tip #6 – Engage in QuestionStorming

When brainstorming finds you caught in a rut, try QuestionStorming. When you sit down together as a team, ask What if, What caused, Why, Why not, What is questions. Write down every question and once listed, prioritize and discuss the most important or intriguing ones to find better solutions.

Tip #7 – Cultivate Question Thinking

When discussing products and/or innovations within your company, convert your statements into questions. By reformulating statements into questions, you will find not only do the problems you are facing become clearer and help members of your team feel responsible for solutions. Teach your team members in the orientation session about the first principle of thinking. You would love reading this one too – “7 ways to Encourage Innovative Thinking at Your Workplace”.

Tip #8 – Track your QnA Ratio

Keep tabs on your Q&A ratio. Studies have shown that disruptive innovators ask more questions than give answers. And more often than not, good questions generate greater value than good answers. 

Tip #9 – Cultivate your own Question Bank

Maintain a record of your questions as your own written question bank. Keep revisiting these questions to identify patterns and categorize the kinds of questions you are asking. When you do, question your own questions to disrupt your thought to lead to better innovation.   

The table below will help you ask the right questions. 

 Describe the TerritoryDisrupt the Territory
Innovator’s DNA SkillsWhat is? Who? What? When? Where? How?What caused it?Why? Why not?What if? How might?
Observing    
Networking    
Experimenting    

Ask more questions when you go through your question bank. Question your questioning patterns, try and understand which questions generate emotional responses, see what kind of questions lead you best into disruptive thinking patterns.   

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #3 Observing

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #3 Observing

Whether it was Einstein with his theory of Gravity or Galileo measuring time with a pendulum; all innovators, thinkers and makers had something in common. They noticed, they observed and they theorized. Observation is the bedrock of innovation. It is where innovation starts. 

Tip #10 – Observe Customers

Observe the people you are making your product for, the existing customers. Observe how these customers experience your product. Look out for what they enjoy most about your product, and look out for what is leaving them dissatisfied about it. Is there a functional connect only or is your product leaving your customer emotionally connected? 

Tip #11 – Observe Companies

Identify a company you like, or one that inspires you. It may be a blue chip company or a trailblazing start-up. Dig into its hows and whys and think of ways you could incorporate its ideas into your business or product. 

Tip #12 – Make Observation a Habit

Set time aside everyday to observe. Make it a task in your daily to do list. Set aside a few minutes each day to observe the world around you, or a part of it that catches your fancy. Note down (this may even be photographs and videos on your phone) your observations and review them every once in a while. 

Tip #13 – Observe With All your Senses

Observe with more than just your mind. Whether you are observing customers, another company or the world around you, observe with all your senses. Make it a habit to see, taste, hear, smell and feel every experience. Make notes about what responses various experiences trigger in you. You never know what explosive idea is hiding under a whiff of something!

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #4 Networking

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #4 Networking

Idea networking is about you stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging with people who have thoughts that may be different from your own. Fresh thoughts, ideas and perspectives are a powerful arsenal to carry in your toolkit. 

Tip #14 – Expand your Network Diversity

If you are the smartest person in a room, you are in the wrong room. So, like Tony Robbins says, surround yourself with people who are successful, who are forward-moving, who are positive, who are focused on producing results, who support you, it will challenge you to be more and do more and share more. If you can surround yourself with people who will never let you settle for less than you can be, you have the greatest gift that anyone can hope for. Expand the diversity of your network. Engage with people of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, gender, profession, industry, countries. 

Tip #15 – Start a Mealtime Networking Plan

Don’t have the time to expand your network? Start doing so over a meal. Have a meal with someone in your organization or social circle you never would ordinarily. Step outside your comfort zone if you have to to engage with a person you may not always agree with. 

Explore-Simulated-Version-of-TIP-Tool

Tip #16 – Plan and Attend New Events Each Year

Attend conferences and seminars as an opportunity to network and learn alongside. Choose a couple of conferences/seminars to attend in a year – one in a subject that interests you and another that is outside your comfort zone. This is a great way to meet people with different perspectives.

Tip #17 – Foster a Creative Community

Become part of, or better still, initiate a creative community and meet regularly to nurture ideas beyond your workplace. Invite outsiders to these meetings to get fresh ideas. Let the people you invite be a healthy mix of experts and novices so you can draw on both experience and raw enthusiasm. Train with the experts and let the exuberance of newness ignite your passion.

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #5 Experimenting

Disruptive Innovators | Discovery Skill #5 Experimenting

Experimentation is fundamental to get insights and new knowledge and in relation to innovation, experimentation is usually seen as a “search for new value”, a journey to innovation.

Tip #18 – Cross Physical and Intellectual Borders

Changing spaces – both physical and intellectual help you break out of routine and fixed mindset. Visit new places – museums, libraries, parks. Join new professional or recreational activities, attend lectures, take an online class or indulge in art. Subscribe to content from different contexts and different geographies. When you open yourself up to alien information, you will see yourself shift from a routine mindset to a hypothesis-testing mindset. 

Tip #19 – Invest Time in Developing a New Skill

Find something you are passionate about beyond your work. Turn it into a skill that you work to develop. It could be painting or photography or ballet or yoga. If you don’t want to go that far, identify another function in your company and explore it deeply.

Tip #20 – Disassemble a Product and Build a Prototype of an Idea

Have something old at home that is gathering dust? Turn it into a weekend repair project. Take it apart, study it and try to reassemble it. Have something at home that you think you could make better? Engage in a product improvement project and turn it into a prototype! Play-doh and Lego are great to create prototypes with your kids and to initiate them into innovation early. 

Tip #21 – Be Regular with Piloting New Ideas

Pick up ideas from the idea books you are maintaining and make a commitment to yourself to carry out a pilot test of one of those every month. If it doesn’t work the first time, experiment on it the next time with a small tweak here and there.

Tip #22 – Go Trend Spotting

Stay up to date with the happenings around you and constantly be on the lookout for emerging trends. Look into the future with the resources you have today and try and think of how you can ride the trend wave.  

Let’s Sum It Up

In sum, remember to keep moving. Remember you don’t have to be born an innovator. You can join the league of disruptive innovators. And while you’re on the innovation treadmill, let Bezos’ words ring loud – “Keep inventing and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.” 

Read Next: “How To Seek Investment Using Patents?

Want to get more invention disclosures at your enterprise?

Download this inventor friendly ‘Invention Disclosure Form‘ by TIP today!

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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Innovations in Aerogels – SCAMPER for Idea Generation

Innovation in Aerogels - SCAMPER - Idea Generation

Learn how innovations in aerogels by Blueshift, Graphene, Krosslinker, Kalwall and …. can help you come up with the next generation of technologies.   

Looking for some inspiration to generate ideas in Aerogels? You have reached the right spot! In this post we are not just sharing an actionable idea generation technique; but something far more than that. The technique we are covering is called “SCAMPER” and the bonus that we are giving here are the innovations in aerogels. ‘Aerogel’ – one of the most fascinating materials on earth.

What is SCAMPER?

Bob Eberle proposed the SCAMPER technique in his book – SCAMPER: Games for Imagination Development in 1971. You would be surprised to see that it’s not outdated yet and can still help you draw a lot of value.

The word SCAMPER is an acronym for 7 brainstorming methods. With each method, you need to answer specific questions about an existing product or idea to explore something new. Let’s take a look at these 7 methods:

MethodWhat you doWhat questions you ask
SubstituteThe focus of this method is to find alternatives. You substitute a part of the existing idea with something else to create a new thing. Which ingredient can you replace without affecting the solution?

Can you substitute people, time, or place for improving the quality?
CombineYou focus on combining 2 (or more) existing things to result in a better idea.Can you combine a new element into an existing product and improve?

Is it possible to merge 2 or more existing processes to create something new?
Adapt During this method, you stress on adapting a part of or the whole existing product or process in a better way.Can you adapt a new process or technology to the existing product?

Is it possible to adapt a process to improve the speed or results?
Modify (magnify or minify)Try to change the size, dimensions, quantity, or frequency in the existing product, process, or problem.Can you add extra features?

Is there a benefit in increasing or decreasing the frequency?
Put to other useThis process helps you to tinker if you can use your product or process in some other unexpected way?Can you use your product differently?

Is it possible to target another market for the product?
EliminateWhen you use the ‘eliminate’ method, you focus on getting rid of a part or process that may not be beneficial.What can you eliminate from a product or a process?

Is there a way to get rid of the harmful parts?
Reverse (rearrange)In this method, you explore if any rearrangement or reverse technique like upside down or inside out with the product helps get new results?What if you go backward?

Can you reverse a process and get results?

The table above shares a few questions for each technique. Feel free to download the exhaustive questions list for all the 7 techniques.

We are in awe with aerogels and hence chose aerogels to explain SCAMPER. From the first commercialization of aerogel, it has been a topic of fascination among scientists and researchers. And, we are no exception!

If you are an industry veteran from the Aerogel industry, I would recommend you skip to “SCAMPER – The Idea Generation With Innovations in Aerogels” section, as we are going to start with First Principles – explaining from basics.

What Is Aerogel?

Aerogel is a synthetic porous ultralight material. It is the lightest solid on earth; an aerogel block of a car’s size would hardly weigh 1 kg. What makes aerogel so interesting are the properties it exhibits in various conditions.

For instance – aerogels have super high thermal resistance. Look at the picture below – A flower is on a piece of aerogel which is suspended over a flame from a Bunsen burner. The flower remains protected from the flame due to aerogel.

Source – wikipedia

Apparels stuffed with aerogels can keep you warm even under a storm of liquid nitrogen (-321°F / -196°C). That’s how magical it is! The post explores 7 breakthrough innovations in aerogels in the following sections – keep reading!

Who Invented Aerogel? | An interesting Story

The inventor, Samuel Stephens Kistler, made the first aerogel somewhere in 1931. His associate and friend, Charles Learned, had a bet with him to replace the jellies’ liquid without shrinking. Kistler removed the fluid and filled the air using the supercritical drying method. The technique is not as simple as it sounds. Kistler took many years and long research to make the first aerogel.

Why We Picked Aerogel To Explain SCAMPER?

MarketsandMarkets reported last year that the aerogel market would reach a share of $1045M by 2025. During the forecasted period of 2020-2025, it would register a CAGR of 10.4%.

What keeps the demand so high is the applications in the energy, construction, and transportation sectors. The need for thinner, lighter, and economical aerogel would drive the growth. Emerging players are challenging each other for novel ideas and growth, keeping the aerogel’s field vibrant. While nonorganic silica has been the most prominent base material thus far, the carbon in organic material is also quite popular now. Start-ups are exploring eco-friendly routes to produce aerogel, as well.

The end products of aerogel are available in many forms like blankets, monoliths, granules, and powder. Here is a tree structure by IDTechEx to help you understand the base materials and available forms of aerogel.

Different types of Aerogels and the terminology

Source – IDTechEx

Having so much innovations in aerogels going on, how could we not dive in the ocean of aerogels to pull out some pearls for you? TriangleIP believes in democratizing innovation so that we can help more people innovate. So here we are sharing different models that you can use to generate more ideas. 

So, let’s learn SCAMPER with examples of aerogel based products and companies.

SCAMPER – The Idea Generation With Innovations in Aerogels

Of all the companies working with aerogels, we chose 7 promising works, based on their innovation technique that aligns with one of the SCAMPER methods. 

Substitute Like Blueshift

Traditional aerogel is made up of silica, which makes it brittle. Such aerogel can fracture under high pressure. Blueshift substituted the silica with polyimides polymer to create a highly flexible aerogel. Trademarked as AeroZero®, this aerogel makes good tapes and laminates. The strength, insulation, and flexibility make it versatile for various industrial purposes.

Innovations in Aerogel - Blueshift - Substitute
  • Aerospace and defense use AeroZero® due to its high insulation and cryogenic properties. 
  • Electronics and telecom fields have adopted AeroZero® because of its lightweightness. 
  • The semiconductors industry uses AeroZero® as it performs uniformly between temperature -200 °C and 250 °C+.

How incredible, isn’t it?

Imagine substituting one of the core materials to solve the existing problems when you think of an idea generation technique. 

Combine like Graphene Composites

“Innovation is taking two things that exist and putting them together in a new way.” – Tom Freston, Co-founder, MTV

Although Graphene Composites (GC) makes composites for aerospace, which are lighter than the carbon-based parts and have higher strength, their armors are worth talking about.

GC combines graphene with aerogel to produce the strongest, lightest, and resilient GC Shields as ballistic armors. These shields disperse the impact of a bullet or stab more effectively than other armor. GC Shieldshave been tested with various rifles, shotguns, and knives.

These mobile shields come in different sizes. They can fit in a school bag or be obtained in a bigger size to protect the full torso. A pack of shields combined to make a wall offers group protection during an attack. GC Shield™ Curtain protects active shooters in large and open spaces.

Innovations in Aerogel - Combine - Graphene Composites

Graphene Composites stands out among companies working with aerogel due to their unique product. Combining two products to offer new benefits is a great way to innovate. What can you combine to create a new product worth interest?

Adapt Like KrossLinker

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw

Do you know 1 out of 5 vaccines spoils during transit in the supply chain? 

KrossLinker came up with an innovative approach to package bio-pharma products. These pharma products are temperature sensitive. Many vaccines and biologics like blood, human organs, vaccines, and drugs suffer from the lack of the proper packaging. The traditional Styrofoam packaging spoils these biologics due to temperature fluctuation and dust.

Then existing aerogel products couldn’t stand up to the fabrication challenge of cold-chain biopharma. First, the production speed couldn’t stand the demand and affected the vaccine cost for the end user. Dusty aerogel products pose contamination risks to biologics. 

KrossLinker took the challenge and innovated aerogel packaging for biopharma products. They solved the dust issues with the silica aerogels. Their products are thin, leading to smooth fabrication. Their technology produces aerogel boards 3x faster and at 50% lower production cost. Owing to low energy consumption, carbon footprints are lesser, too.

SCAMPER - Adapt - Krosslinker - Innovation in Aerogel

Adapting an existing process to solve a burning problem: just the right approach to innovating. And KrossLinker did the same.

Modify like Cabot Corp

The Cabot Corp’s idea of using aerogel powder in cosmetics reflects the ideology of ‘modify’ in SCAMPER.

Aerogel has a remarkable absorption capacity—quite useful to soak moisture and oil from the skin. Hence, if added in the powder form, it’s beneficial to enhance cosmetic functioning.

A skin product renders a matt finish by soaking the oily layer from the skin. Aerogel’s addition helps maintain anti-caking and free-flow properties in skin and beauty products. Also, it helps retain the fragrance.

Innovations in Aerogels - Modify like Cabot Corp

A small touch of aerogel to the beauty products magnifies their properties. What are your thoughts on modifying an already available product and coming up with a new idea?

Put To Another Use Like Kalwall

Aerogel by nature is translucent with a blue tint. Kalwall used this property of aerogel and made use in construction for good daylight trapping in massive structures.

While maintaining the buildings’ aesthetics, their structures make the indoor ambiance cozy and conducive to living. They offer museum-quality daylighting™, Skyroofs®, skylights, canopies, and walkways with aerogels. Not only are these products great for natural lighting, but are also great as thermal insulators.

Another benefit of using Kalwall’s design system is, they help the tenants and owners save on energy expenses. The carbon footprints of these buildings are also low. Kalwall panels also claim to be self-cleaning and resist UV rays.

Innovations in Aerogels - Kalwall - Put to Another Use

Putting a product in a different market is a risk. But a little resilience and perseverance can bring success; Kalwall has proved this.

Eliminate With Bronx Culture

While manufacturing aerogel, Bronx Culture might have thought about one question: How can we achieve the same or better aerogel without superfluous byproducts? Or simply put: what can we remove in the process to make the end product equivalent or better?

Using the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) technique of making aerogel with cellulose fibers, Bronx Culture has developed Oryza Aerogel. Cellulose fibers are obtained by mulching the paper. NUS’s manufacturing process generates zero byproducts, saving the landfills from paper wastes.

Oryza Aerogel has no crystalline silica dust in the residues. This means a safe working environment for workers by minimizing the hazardous effects due to inhalation and contact.

Innovations in Aerogels - Bronx Culture - Eliminate - SCAMPER

Bronx also eliminated eco hazards by adopting green and eco-friendly manufacturing processes. The NUS technique consumes less energy and lesser hazardous chemicals. Paper that goes otherwise into landfills is now a source of aerogel.

Isn’t it time to go green and eliminate environmental perils in our innovations, just like Bronx Culture?

Rearrange Like Dunlop Racquets

“If you have always done it that way, it is probably wrong.” – Charles Kettering, Inventor

When Dunlop decided to manufacture racquets using aerogel, they might have one question in mind: How can we rearrange the current structure for better results?

Dunlop rearranged the design and structure of their racquets to provide more strength and shock absorption. Due to its extreme strength and lightweight, aerogel was a perfect answer to making the racquets better.

The company placed aerogel strategically at 2, 5, 7, and 10 o’clock positions in the racket’s hoop. This increased the size of the sweet spots and spiked the stability of the racquets. These racquets also have Dunlop’s patented Aerobridge technology. Aerobridge is a dampening system, which cancels string vibration. For this, they use an aerogel sleeve in the throat of the racquets.

Innovations in Aerogels - Dunlop Rackets - Rearrange - SCAMPER

The design has helped players win world titles. Rearranging or reversing a technology like reverse engineering is a proven and old style to handle problems and works well in many fields. 

What is one thing you can rearrange in a design or even look in the reverse direction to solve a burning issue?

Let’s Sum it Up

SCAMPER, time and again, has proven to be useful for problem-solving and innovating worthy products. The best part of SCAMPER is that it forces you to question the status quo and as you know best the breakthrough innovations come when you challenge the status quo. 

Do try it in your next R&D meeting. Whether you work as a one-person team or in a group, idea generation this way is systematic and result-oriented. So, which of the 7 methods are you choosing to solve a problem? Tell us in the comments section; we are open to brainstorming. Feel free to download the questions list for all the 7 methods by filling the form below!

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Invention Disclosures | Enablers and Blockers

Do’s & Don’ts For Invention Disclosures

Not enough invention disclosures?

Your patent program may fall apart if your inventors are not submitting enough ideas to feed the pipeline toward patenting. The underlying reasons could be anything; from lack of inventor motivation to the process being confusing.

The progression of an idea from the invention to the patenting needs to be a systematic process with steady and sustained flow through the various stages. It starts with invention disclosure or capture where you would need your inventors to disclose their new innovation.

Let’s do a deep dive into the first step—Invention Disclosure and how you can begin a successful patent program.  

The Invention Disclosure / Idea Capture Form

Simply said, an invention disclosure form (IDF) captures an invention and surrounding details with the intent of possibly patenting. 

Invention Disclosures | The Blockers

Ad-hoc Process

Many companies don’t have a set process for filling IDFs. Some companies use simple forms for invention disclosures, and others have an online equivalent. Tracking of the IDF workflow might use makeshift approaches such as spreadsheets. Sometimes the only process happens with emails. 

Each of these processes has one or the other drawback as listed below:

  1. Non-intuitive for inventors without easy collaboration
  2. Possibility of loss of data in transitions with little transparency
  3. Long and complex forms act as a friction intimidating innovators
  4. Lack of real time updates on the progress from idea to patent

The Reluctant Inventor

Inventors like to create, but their disinterest in long forms is a hurdle. Sometimes, the inventors are too busy with other priorities and other times they shy away from the lengthy process.

There is a possibility of lack of motivation too for inventors to fill the IDFs. Either they are not aware of the importance of patents or there is not sufficient incentive attached with the disclosure process.

Long and Complex Forms

Inventors do not receive instruction on the patent process in university and don’t understand what information should go into the requested form fields. Vague questions frequently create a practical barrier for the first-timers, and a busy inventor might lose interest quickly for a tedious form. Eventually, a lack of guidance to fill out the right information also hampers an inventor’s interest.

Lack of Recognition

Have you motivated your inventors enough to fill an IDF? Positive reinforcement helps.

Those who are less familiar with technical documentation and publishing papers are more reluctant to fill out long forms. Tracking who is submitting ideas into the process and providing positive feedback helps socialize the importance of the patent program.

Lack of Awareness

Often, inventors simply aren’t aware of the patenting process, and they don’t know the benefits of protecting their innovation. Even if companies have a patent training course for their employees, maybe it only happens once a year. Ideally, the awareness starts with hiring, during orientation and should be reinforced frequently.

Sometimes, inventors harbor false perceptions of patents from the wrong sources. Explaining the strategic reasons for the patent program helps socialize the importance to enterprise success. Most companies are loath to enforce their patents as that would scare away participation.  Explaining defensive patent portfolio strategies that discourage others from preemptively suing while enhancing shareholder value with intellectual asset creation are more easily embraced strategies.

Invention Disclosures | The Enablers

You must sufficiently motivate the inventors to avoid the loss of patentable ideas. The unprotected innovations are given to the public domain if a patent is not quickly filed.  Here are a few tips to encourage engagement with the patent process:

Culture Change & Awareness

Conduct regular training for the inventors and IP teams. Educating new employees about the benefits of invention capture and how the complete process can improve your IP portfolio. Explain the strategies for building a patent portfolio. These are great opportunities to also invite industry experts to speak in internal forums. Consider workshops around innovation to motivate people further.

Explain the process clearly and as interactively as possible. Make available an IP expert(s) that inventors can seek out for guidance.

Rewards & Recognition

Creators need the motivation to spend time engaging in the process. Offer a bonus at different stages along the way to getting a patent. In addition to monetary bonuses consider giving them other rewards such as, certificates, manager recognition, and a voice in internal newsletters.

Seek Only What’s Necessary

The process of capturing innovation from inventors should have minimum friction. Long and complex forms discourage engagement. Hence, in the first go, seek only the necessary information with the IDF. 

Title

The title should be a one-line concise description of the invention.

Email

The form should capture the inventor’s email address for follow-up. Contact information about any manager or prosecutor would be a plus.

Summary

The summary should be focused on the following three most important things:

  1. Technical problem the invention solves
  2. Scientific or technical solution – the invention itself
  3. Advantages over existing solutions to the subject problem

Attaching existing diagrams, presentations, and other documents that add clarity towards understanding the invention better.

Keeping all the above in mind, we have designed the idea capture form with a very simple and intuitive approach via the TIP tool (an innovation management software) at TriangleIP. 

The form limits necessary fields only to the invention title and inventor’s email. It also has a summary section where the inventor fills out the invention details in a problem-solution-benefits format. Don’t forget to tag your disclosure with keywords to make later searching and sorting easier.  The form further has few additional fields for subjective value, patentability estimate and any filing deadline.  Attach any file that provides more detail on your invention such as white papers, presentations, recordings, videos, etc. .

Here is another good read for you – “7 surefire ways to get more invention disclosures“.

On a side note: Would you want to know how your patent application is progressing at the USPTO compared to other applications in the same domain? 

The TIP tool offers statistics of the law firm and the examiner handling your case. Once the application is filed at the USPTO, and an examiner is allotted to your case, the tool indicates the relative performance of the law firm handling your case. The statistics revolve around the number of arguments, grant rate, and grant time. The tool also indicates the case health, for instance, it can tell you if a case needs your attention. There is a whole bunch of insights that you can gather from the TIP tool for strategic patent prosecution.

Request insights for any of your cases at the patent office using the form below.

Wrapping Up The Do’s & Don’ts For Invention Disclosures

The first step to creating a successful patent program is to set up a systematic process to capture ideas and manage their journey to patent protection. Invention disclosures are the beginning point in this program. Encourage your inventors to fill the disclosures by:

  • Keeping the process intuitive
  • Incentivizing the process of writing and submitting disclosures
  • Training the inventors on the importance of IP
  • Creating a culture of innovation that seeks to produce regularly
  • Simplifying and socializing the innovation management process

With these tips, we hope your inventors fill your capture program with an abundance of IDFs to feed your patent program.

Beyond the use of the downloadable IDF form we provided above, the TIP tool by Triangle IP can help you manage your patent program with it’s simple workflow and drag-and-drop features. Additionally, the tool is soon going to offer various analytics that can enhance patenting decision-making. Definitely give it a try! 

Note: The preceding is general business advice and not to be construed as legal advice. IP laws vary by country and retaining licensed legal counsel is advised to confirm this information. Any expressed or implied opinions are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Triangle IP or any other entity who might be associated with the presenter. We hope this content is helpful to you, but should not be relied upon without confirming the advice and accuracy with local legal counsel. Any comments or inquiries are not confidential so please discuss your issues directly with counsel.

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No credit card required. No setup fees. No need to download.


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