Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Intellectual Property In China

Intellectual property in China always seems to be a hot topic, and frequently pops up in my RSS news feed. This week the topic of China is particularly newsworthy for Anaqua in that we announce our first Chinese client in Huawei Technologies (click here to see press release). This is a fantastic client, and in our own modest way, we appreciate the opportunity to contribute to the success of one of China’s preeminent intellectual property based companies. I was fortunate to spend some time with Huawei’s IP Team in Shenzen, and they are well on their way to building a world class IP organization.

You may have also seen Joff Wild’s recent IAM Magazine Blog on the topic of China and IP finance. This is just another example of the Chinese government and China’s finance sector promoting intellectual property as a cornerstone of business development. This week the China Intellectual Property Business Summit is also being presented, with interesting topics and speakers. And, finally, in President Obama’s current visit to China, the topic of IP enforcement and trade policy was identified as a topic of discussion.

These are just a few recent examples of intellectual property news and events in China. And this is not an unusual week. What these events really represent is the continued momentum behind changes in China’s intellectual property environment. While areas for improvement remain, China’s commitment to and growing maturity in IPR bodes well for the future of competitive markets that share a consistent, reliable IPR system. However, as with other business areas in which China has ascended, we are well advised to appreciate and understand the cultural, business and legal principles that underlie their concept of an IPR system – and how they may differ from Western mindsets and standards.

This is an exciting time to be working in emerging IP markets, and we look forward to many new Chinese and Asia Pacific based clients joining the Anaqua community in the future. Our product will be better and the IP world will be better too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Reflections on the IPO 2009 Annual Meeting

At the recently concluded Intellectual Property Owners (IPO) annual meeting in Chicago (Aug 13-15), attendees were provided an excellent conference agenda full of leading topics and speakers. IPO does a great job and I highly recommend the conference. There were a number of presentations and topics that particularly caught my attention, and I’ll be writing about these in the coming days. One interesting – albeit not entirely new – topic that came up in a number of sessions was the focus companies are placing on the efficiency and effectiveness of their patent filing process.

What was interesting is that while this scrutiny may have been initiated because of tighter budgets, the analysis is really much more about quality. Many companies said that they are being more careful with budgets, but they were not basing decisions on either individual filings or total IP spend entirely on cost considerations. Recent and pending changes in the scope of patent protection and enforcement (e.g. Bilski), continued uncertainty in global IPR systems, shorter innovation turnover cycles, and reevaluation of know-how and trade secret value versus public disclosure through patenting, are all considerations being more closely balanced. It will be very interesting to see trends in patent filing rates over the coming years – particularly as companies come out of the economic downturn – to see whether the early-2000 rates represented a bubble or if the 2008/09 decreases are merely an economy-driven blip. There were certainly strong opinions on both sides.

Our upcoming webinar October 1, 2009, is relevant to this topic. I was happy to hear that almost every IPO presentation made mention of the integral role of technology in the IP management process. And in our webinar entitled, Driving Quality and Cost Effectiveness in the Invention Disclosure Process, we’ll discuss how technology works hand in hand with IP strategy and process to meet the company’s objectives of better intellectual assets. We’ll review ideas of best practices in the disclosure process, as well as the latest Anaqua tools used by leading companies to automate their invention management. I encourage you to join us!

Register for the webinar by going to http://www.anaqua.com/community/invention-disclosure-webinar.html

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Strategic Docketing

While “Strategic IAM” grabs the headlines, the tried-and-true docketing function remains the cornerstone of a quality IP practice. In working with our clients we’ve begun using the term “Strategic Docketing” to refer to the new approach many companies are taking to how they manage their docketing functions. While docketing has always been a rule-intensive, detail-oriented process, today’s increased complexities with domestic and international filings, as well as changes in examining procedures, are requiring the docket team to take a more sophisticated approach to their work. In addition, the docketing team is being asked to play a more integrated role in the overall asset lifecycle, working collaboratively with both in-house attorneys and outside counsel. We hear many companies now referring to their docketing team as IP Operations.

Technology has long been a key enabler of the docketing team, providing case tracking, due dates, work assignments, documents and other information related to the core prosecution process. Although notoriously low-tech, docketing systems have provided relatively straight forward tools for data entry, auto-generated tasks, and general report writing. As Strategic Docketing has emerged, however, the demands of the docketing team are driving the need for more advanced and capable tools that go well beyond the capability of existing docketing systems. However, while new “web based” systems promise improvements, for many docketing professionals these new technologies have proven a double-edged sword—while providing more features, the new tools have often sacrificed the ease-of-use advantages of existing docketing applications.

In tackling the critical needs of docketing, Anaqua has been working closely with our clients to build the next generation docketing system that provides Strategic Docketing functionality, while preserving the ease-of-use expected by docketing professionals. To this end, our latest release has introduced a number of features that go well beyond what many companies have seen in the docketing software market – and you’ll continue to see Anaqua introduce docketing-focused enhancements in other upcoming releases.

First, and foremost, we are excited about addressing what are often the two biggest issues – too many screens (or “too many clicks”), and having to use the mouse. Anaqua now provides One Page Docketing which puts the most important docketing-related fields on a single screen, and with type-ahead on data entry fields. In addition, each user is able to personalize their page layout, allowing the docketing related fields to be positioned with drag and drop so that the most important fields are easily available. In our design testing and user training we’ve received great feedback on the newfound efficiency in completing docket related tasks.

In addition to One Page Docketing, we’ve introduced many other features designed to improve the quality, usability and capabilities of Anaqua’s docketing module. These include:

  • Country law updates
  • Law engine enhancements
  • My Searches with saved parameters and user-selectable fields
  • My Screen Layout with drag and drop selection of record fields
  • Ad Hoc Reporting
  • Batch updating of records
  • PAIR interface with data validation

We will continue to work with our clients to enhance the all-important docketing user experience.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The 2009 Anaqua User Conference

The Anaqua user community continues to be an important value for Anaqua’s clients. They include world leaders in technology, industry and consumer goods with a willingness to share and contribute for the good of the community. The opportunity to learn how others have solved problems and introduced new methods for their IAM practices is invaluable.

This year’s annual Anaqua User Conference continued and expanded this community activity. Previous years’ events in Toronto, Boston and Delray Beach, Florida took place over 3 days with both business and social sessions and ample time for networking and informal discussions. In planning for this year’s event in the last few months of 2008, we quickly realized that the declining economic environment made it very difficult for our clients to commit to budget expenses for May of 2009. As a result of this feedback, and with the overwhelming support of the Anaqua User Council, we made this year’s conference a virtual, on-line event.

Conference sessions covered business topics including: IP Leadership in a Troubled Economy; Successful Change Management in a Legal Organization; IP Valuation, as well as technical topics such as the Anaqua Roadmap and How to do a Successful Software Upgrade. There were a number of client case studies and panels as well as Anaqua training sessions on areas of the product such as budgeting and reporting.

Over 100 attendees participated in a very successful conference over five days from April 27 to May 1 and the feedback is in - how does a virtual event compare to a traditional physical conference?

Advantages:

  • Significant cost savings with no travel or accommodation expenses
  • Broader attendance – more of the client team can participate without concern for cost
  • Easier to invite guest speakers when they do not have to travel

Disadvantages:

  • Lack of face-to-face networking. Many said that this was an important aspect to preserve in future events. Open mikes and social networking software can help but does not substitute for direct interaction with people.
  • Time zone challenges – it is (just) possible to accommodate US Pacific to Central Europe business hours but in practice impossible to include live participation from Asian attendees as well.

Anaqua will review options with the User Council for the 2010 conference, but the early indications are that we will return to a physical event supplemented by virtual services for important sessions.


Do you have experience with virtual events? I’d love to hear your comments! Please comment here or email me at ireid@anaqua.com - Ian Reid, vp marketing, Anaqua.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Innovation Strategies in a Challenging Economy

As companies work to navigate today’s challenging business environment – and managers look to make the best out of their situations—innovation must remain a critical priority. New ideas harvested today will become the products and services sold to more discriminating customers, and will ultimately drive strong growth as market health returns. Innovation is also critical for internal operations as companies are forced to maintain (and even improve) their businesses with fewer staff, support services and other infrastructure. The key is defining an innovation strategy and approach that drives quicker, more cost effective, and lower risk opportunities for new products, services and operational efficiencies.

In working with our customers, we see a well-defined, two-pronged approach of both internal innovation and external partnering. While certainly not new concepts, the key to both dimensions is efficiency in identifying and quickly vetting opportunities, and getting them to commercialization and marketing; or for internal operations improvements, rapidly transitioning to new processes so that benefits can be quickly realized. While the discipline of a rigorous review and decision process remains a fundamental best practice, accelerating gate reviews and reducing cycle times is also critical to success.

The challenge is often a matter of workplace culture and human nature. As poor financial results lead to staff reductions, budget cuts and other day-to-day changes, the compounding effect is to slow down operations and reduce productivity. This is the exact opposite of what is necessary to navigate through, and out of, difficult times.

While technology is never in and of itself a cure, many organizations are turning to their IT systems as the key means for implementing and enforcing more rigorous innovation processes. Investment in improving or replacing less efficient systems which impact the innovation process is considered a high return investment because they are the enablers of efficiency and accountability. For Anaqua, this means that companies are looking at such processes

  • Invention disclosure and review – how to improve the efficiency of R&D and inventors in identifying, submitting and prioritizing new ideas

  • Portfolio management and IP reviews – using tools to improve automation, sharing and reporting on IP data and competitive intelligence

  • Collaboration with law firms and outsourced (LPO) services – enable legal departments to load balance work between internal and external service providers to maximize cost efficiencies

  • Agreements management – improving negotiation and administration of agreements, and improving controls around IP ownership, partner relationships and financials

How is your company managing internal innovation and external partnering in a tough economy?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Looking at IAM Software? Think beyond IAM!

As you look to implement new software for intellectual asset management, it makes a lot of sense to see if other areas in legal could use new infrastructure. It may be an opportunity to combine forces and budgets to get the project approved.

Corporate law departments have historically been technology laggards versus other functional areas such as finance, sales , marketing and HR. While there have been a myriad of reasons, at least one contributing reason has been the very nature of the practice of law itself – highly variable work processes based on the practice area, case type, individual attorney or jurisdiction. For many companies no individual practice group provided the critical mass that warranted the investment necessary to implement leading technology; not to mention that corporate solution vendors lacked the expertise in corporate law department management.

Fortunately for corporate law departments, the technology is quickly improving. The risk and volume of cases have garnered the attention of senior management, freeing up both financial and staff resources, as well as driving more discipline in case management. The Office of the General Counsel is now more visible as a key stakeholder in overall corporate management and strategy. New hot button areas such as electronic data discovery (“EDD”), document management and e-billing are becoming critical areas for “best practice” law departments.

Interestingly, at Anaqua we have found that the intellectual property practice area can be highly instructive to the broader, general law department in providing new technology leadership. As we know, intellectual property – more so than many other practice areas – is a highly structured, procedure-driven practice that lends itself well to automation, web-based collaboration, better content management and other technology-based efficiencies. As engineers and technology majors, patent attorneys are comfortable with technology, and have generally embraced software tools – when they’ve been able to get them!

Although Anaqua was initially developed for intellectual property management, some of our earliest clients are standalone IP holding companies who use ANAQUA for all legal functions. As a result, we are increasingly being brought in to other practice areas as the technology of choice. For example, our expertise in agreements and royalties lends itself very well to general contract management, including partner agreements, confidentiality / NDAs, lease agreements, etc. Similarly for Conflicts – supporting general, non-IP litigation matters has been an easy and natural extension. The core Anaqua components – if you simply strip away their IP-specific context – allow companies to have an integrated “ERP” for the entire Law Department. This is certainly an exciting opportunity for our clients and Anaqua, and we look forward to continuing to expand our value!

Please feel free to contact us if this is an area of interest for you.