Intellectual property and patents became headline news in 2012 as lawsuits, sales and competitive gamesmanship resulted in an increasing number of firms actively employing intellectual assets as viable tools for building their businesses. The likes of Google, Samsung, Kodak, Apple and Marvell were linked to millions (and billions) of dollars in litigation.
We expect ongoing growth in the number of companies seeking to enhance an IP position and leverage their rights aggressively. Our research shows an increasing variety of competitors seeking to capitalize on product, design and intellectual innovation.
Every boardroom discussion should have on its agenda a review of the firm’s patent portfolio. Companies wanting to use intellectual property to establish their firm’s position, defend their business and create new revenue streams--all parts of the IP lifecycle
--must regularly evaluate their portfolios and promote partnerships among leaders in product, financial and legal roles.
For 2013, we have identified five trends which we expect will continue to shape the intellectual property and patent sector:
- Patent Enforcement Entities (also known as Non-Practicing Entities or NPEs) will broaden their reach by seeking new industries such as medical and automotive where patents they control may be asserted.
- The number of firms partnering, joining existing consortia or creating new consortia to spread patent acquisition costs and share risk when exercising these joint assets will increase.
- Controversy on the validity of software patents will require firms with software assets to carefully consider how they protect their innovation and how they assert the resulting IP rights.
- Firms with substantial investments in IP will implement rigorous efforts to control costs and generate return from these assets by identifying high quality patents. For example, Japanese technology firms will take a dramatically different approach to the management of IP capital due to the financial situation many of those companies face.
- A small set of companies in Taiwan and China will provide leadership in transforming IP practices in the region. Those companies will attempt to change the balance of patent power with their western competitors by executing a well-defined strategy to enhance their patent positions in key technology areas.
As the use of patents for competitive advantage is still evolving, we encourage firms to invest in developing robust IP strategies to protect their own innovations and shareholder value.--Mike McLean is vice president of professional services for UBM TechInsights, a division of UBM LLC, the publisher of
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