The Center for Intellectual Property at Chalmers University of Technology held its biannual CIP Forum on May 20-23 in Gothenburg, Sweden. CIP’s Intellectual Capital Management program is building a strong reputation as a center for IAM thought leadership, and the conference certainly reinforced this. The Forum attracted more than 500 delegates, including many of the world’s leading voices in IAM, with strong representation from practicing business and R&D professionals.
The buzz at CIP was around Open Innovation and how IAM can drive value directly to the business—particularly from European organizations, which clearly embrace the principal that IAM is much more then a legal function. This sentiment, however, was not limited to the European delegates. Marshall Phelps, SVP of Intellectual Property at Microsoft, and Ruud Peters, CEO, Philips Intellectual Property & Standards, each presented forward looking views of IAM and its impact on business value. They acknowledged it is necessary to ensure Intangible Assets are legally protected, but this is not sufficient to drive innovation and achieve strategic goals. They went on to state that the real value opportunity is derived by integrating IAM into the innovation process and core business strategy. This sentiment was reinforced by many other presenters who offered a valuable selection of topics on how companies can use IAM to drive business impact.
As a European based conference, it was interesting to find that European companies and thought leaders seem very active and bought-in to the ideals of strategic, business-focused IAM, in many regards more so than US companies. This was reinforced in several ways:
- First, in Europe, the opportunity is business-driven IAM – not legal-driven IP. This is a very critical difference, perhaps attributable to the fact that in Europe responsibility for IP decisions traditionally spans multiple business functions, rather than being predominately under the purview of attorneys.
- Secondly, we heard less about “patents”, “litigation”, or “damages”, and much more about proactively managing intellectual assets to drive business value. Several speakers announced the end of the era of looking for underutilized IP to license as this was a distraction from developing an IAM core competency in driving innovation and new product development.
- Thirdly, the concept of Open Innovation was very widespread – almost every presentation had some angle on the importance of collaborating with partners, suppliers, customers and competitors to increase innovation.
Many Anaqua clients are trying to elevate IAM to a much more strategic, business driven discipline, often involving Open Innovation. The premise is that Intellectual Asset Managment delivers value in two ways:
- increases revenue through higher prices for “premium”, IP-protected features, from the ability to sell more units due to a unique feature, or because you can identify and develop entirely new products
- improves manufacturing processes with unique innovations and know-how, resulting in higher quality products at reduced cost.
The result of either (1) or (2) is higher margins. If deployment of IAM best practices enables you to increase profitability and growth, it is possible to achieve hundreds of millions or even billions in financial impact.
If IAM is really business aligned, the goal must be to create competitive advantage from innovative products and features and IAM resources should be aligned with this objective.