The IP Pyramid™ – How to Create a Comprehensive IP Strategy
By Alan West, Resident Entrepreneur, PLSG
Companies routinely write comprehensive business plans to communicate their commercialization strategy, including detailed sections describing product development, manufacturing, marketing and sales, and financial projections. Naturally, such business plans help clarify the company’s objectives, organization, and strategies for future growth and a competitive vision.
Rarely, however, does a company draft a similar strategic plan for its Intellectual Property (IP). Instead, most simply offer a paragraph or two within their business plan listing a portfolio of pending and issued patents. This is entirely proper, of course. Patents, after all, represent an important asset that enables a company to create a competitive advantage, maintain premium product pricing, participate unencumbered in a market, and raise working capital. The need for patent protection is especially critical for life sciences companies, which are complex due to their very nature and the many regulations that govern them.
That said, patents represent only one part of a company’s IP. That single umbrella descriptor also includes trade secrets, processing methods, manufacturing fixtures, copyrights, and industrial layouts and designs – all parts of the IP picture that should be included in a company’s inventory. Equally important is how the company plans to respond to shifting market dynamics, pricing pressures, new technologies, expiring patents, and emerging companies.
Like a business plan, a comprehensive IP strategy communicates to investors, business partners, and employees the company’s current and future plans to maintain its competitive advantage. It is much more than a simple listing of patents.
Product drift represents another variable that can generate unwelcome surprises for early-stage companies. Often a patent is filed well before the product’s design has been completed. But product design is an iterative process, and the final product realized may not be adequately protected by the company’s patents. Such ‘drift’ can occur not only during the design process but also afterward during scale-up activities, cost improvements, and changes to the product’s packaging. In this case, it is critical to map every aspect of the final product’s specifications against each of the patent claims to ensure coverage.
The PLSG can help companies anticipate, alleviate, and even avoid the IP-related variables that can slow down or detour the journey to successful commercialization. The IP Pyramid™ Assessment – a novel method for analyzing a company’s IP and creating a comprehensive strategy – was first developed by Jim Jordan and introduced in his book: Innovation, Commercialization and Start-ups in Life Sciences. A subsequent workbook based thereon is now in development that not only considers current competitors and markets, but also anticipates shifting market dynamics, new competitive products, and innovative ways a company can maintain a strong competitive position and premium pricing.
Such a comprehensive analysis, strategy, and inventory can add significantly to early valuations for start-up companies and can ensure stockholders that larger companies will continue to maintain their technological and competitive edge. Please contact me, or Jim Jordan, to learn more about how we can help your organization.
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