Thursday, September 11, 2008

Building an IAM Capability for Small and Medium Enterprises

Effectively managing intellectual assets is a critical imperative for companies of all sizes. While leading “large portfolio” IP companies often garner the bulk of best practice discussions around how they create, manage and exploit their assets, Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) share the same IAM imperative, albeit driven from different business needs and realities. For SMEs, implementing an IAM program requires a thorough understanding of a company’s business drivers, operational processes and organizational culture.

In this issue of IAM Perspectives, we discuss some of the key IAM considerations for SMEs and how the recently announced ANAQUA Express solution addresses these needs. With the introduction of ANAQUA Express, we are excited to bring a highly differentiated solution to the SME market that delivers true end-to-end IAM.

Docketing and Beyond: Providing a Complete IAM Solution
Patent and trademark docketing are critical aspects of the IAM process—particularly from the perspective of the IP legal team. In our conversations with SME clients, however, we often find that they are frustrated with traditional docketing systems because of their limited ability to provide needed functionality beyond docketing. SMEs are increasingly looking to go beyond docketing by expanding their IAM capabilities to include a more multi-disciplinary, cross-functional capability.

In designing ANAQUA Express, we started with a broader view of the needs of SMEs. While providing leading docketing capabilities, ANAQUA Express provides additional functionality to manage all aspects of the process—from invention disclosure through portfolio management.

Make Participating in the Patent Process Easy—and Rewarding

A successful patent program is focused on creating high quality, valuable patents that support the business. This process starts with identifying important ideas and submitting invention disclosures. However, for many companies – particularly fast moving, entrepreneurial organizations – we find that would-be inventors sometimes lack the incentive to participate in the patent process. In fact, inventors can be discouraged from submitting inventions because of the time burden imposed by the company’s patent process.

ANAQUA Express overcomes these barriers, by providing an online electronic disclosure submission system. Starting with a simple web form, ANAQUA Express provides an easy way for inventors to submit new ideas, helped by instructions, minimal required fields, and the ability to easily collaborate with co-inventors. The invention workflow includes automated email notifications to managers and the legal team, as well as a structured patent review board process. Importantly, the feed-back loop is complete by allowing inventors to check the status of their inventions through the online system.

In addition, patent awards can also be a key part of a successful invention program. ANAQUA Express enables companies to create and manage patent award plans that can include both financial and non-financial awards.

Align Trademark Processes to Marketing and Product Management

Well structured trademark management is a critical need for brand intensive SMEs. While this is generally considered from a trademark registration perspective, we find that SMEs can derive significant benefit from having a more formalized link to new product development or marketing which includes managing searches, brand / mark families and portfolio management.

To meet the needs of SMEs, ANAQUA Express provides a suite of brand and trademark tools (including national registrations, common law marks, convention / treaty filings and internet domains.) Starting with an optional online trademark request process, ANAQUA Express can automate and archive searches, with search decisions flowing directly in to the application drafting, filing and registration process. ANAQUA Express also provides an automated global renewal process that allows the coordination of foreign agents via both fax and email correspondence in a batch mode.

Collaboration: Working with Outside Counsel

Outside counsel (and foreign associates and agents) are a critical member of the IP team. As the relationship between the company and their outside counsel become more closely integrated, we find the opportunity – indeed, the need—for the IAM system to allow outside counsel to more directly work within the system.

ANAQUA Express has been designed to allow SME clients to easily setup access to their system using a highly structured security model that provides outside counsel restricted access only to their assigned cases. With ANAQUA Express, clients provide a collaborative environment that allows direct sharing of prosecution tasks and other prosecution related information. Document collaboration—through electronic documents—is fully enabled in ANAQUA, allowing outside counsel to access documents, upload documents and manage work product directly with the client.

IP Portfolio Management: Understanding the Value of Your Assets

We consistently find that the best IAM practitioners institute a well-structured portfolio management process that organizes their assets according to products, technologies and other key business indicators. For SMEs, we similarly find the need for tools that can help the IP legal team deliver insight and counsel to R&D and business managers about their intellectual assets.

ANAQUA Express provides a suite of portfolio management tools that allow SMEs to efficiently categorize, report and analyze their assets. The use of classifications, searching and analysis tools cover a range of purposes including freedom-to-operate (including both patent and trademark availability), competitive landscape / intelligence and operational performance metrics. These resources can be directly accessed by all IAM stakeholders.

Best of Both Worlds: Off the Shelf + Business Configuration

Large scale IAM deployments – tens of thousands of records and hundreds of users—require a complex implementation process, including work on business configuration, system interfaces and data conversion. For SME clients, we have found that they are looking for a more balanced approach, with more highly-defined, standard “off the shelf” setup templates, but with the ability to configure certain areas of the system.

The Express StartUp program provides a more streamlined setup and rollout. Starting with the ANAQUA Express core modules, clients start with standard settings including navigation, user interface, docketing rules, workflows and security roles. Clients can then identify particular areas where their business processes or procedures necessitate configuration changes. For data conversion, simplified upload tools and templates are available to provide for more efficient data transfer from legacy systems, spreadsheets or other sources.

The goal for ANAQUA Express is to provide the power of ANAQUA in a simpler, more streamlined version for the SME user. We look forward to your feedback as we work with you and others with similar needs.