Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Celebrity IP

The other day I got promoted to First Class on my flight home from Los Angeles. I sat down next to a woman and exchanged pleasantries with her. I asked what was taking her to Seattle and she responded that she was a “celebrity chef”.

“Really? That’s cool. So you are a chef for celebrities?” I asked.

“No, I am a chef that is a celebrity.”

Oh? OK. Says who? I looked her up once I got home and she has a couple books under her belt and an appearance on a fairly successful reality TV show. But she was no Rachel Ray or Wolfgang Puck. Is celebrity, like beauty, in the eye of the beholder? Or, is a chef’s celebrity a fact that can be proven statistically? I suggest celebrity is measurable and that there are numerous ways to demonstrate it.

Let’s turn this conversation to something more meaningful to us. Which of your Intellectual Assets are the celebrities? How do you know? We could probably argue ad infinitum the quality of a certain patent (whether it’s well written, has solid claims, etc), but it should be easier to measure its impact – its celebrity. That is, if we have the right tools. So, what tools do we need to measure the impact of individual assets? For one, we need to know how it relates to our business. Which products or services does it support? Secondly, we want to track how it impacts revenue. What are its direct and indirect impacts on revenue through licensing or other means?

How do we find the up and coming stars? Part of your responsibility is to defend the stars, but another is to identify and cultivate the next generation of stars. How do you find that diamond in the rough?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer, and the approach will differ from one industry and organization to another. But one way to start is to develop processes and leverage tools that allow you to harvest the knowledge, experience and insight of multiple stakeholders. Gather the feedback from each of them into a collective understanding to inform the direction that you take with each of the auditioning hopefuls.

The next time you are on a plane and your row mates ask about your profession, tell them you are a Celebrity IP Manager. Then let them guess whether you are a manager of celebrity IP or an IP manager who is a celebrity.

- Written by Mark Bullard, Anaqua