Divide and Conquer: Patent Research

By Vanderheyden, Peter | Online, November/December 2001 | Go to article overview
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Divide and Conquer: Patent Research

Vanderheyden, Peter, Online

A Revolutionary Strategy to Optimize Your Time & Increase Your Influence

There's a revolution happening in business today. With the rise of global competition, business changes brought about by the Internet, recent changes in patent laws, and an increasing need for companies to account for and extract full value from intangible assets, companies are leveraging intellectual property (IP) like never before. Increasingly, IP is enabling companies to seize and protect markets, generate new revenue streams, gain competitive insights, and boost shareholder value.

We're in the midst of an IP revolution. If your company is embracing this change, and if you're like most IP information professionals, you're being deluged with requests for patent and other IP-related data. In fact, you're probably spending a lot more time than you'd like handling many of these requests. Your workdays may be filled with running miscellaneous searches for your clients, which limits the amount of time you can spend applying your skills to the projects that can most directly impact your company and your career.

At a time when businesses are increasingly shifting their focus to IP, you can leverage your skills to boost your visibility and strengthen your influence within the organization. What strategies can you use to analyze your workload, and segment your projects and clients in a way that helps your clients get the patent information they need, yet enables you to focus on the mission-critical jobs that fully utilize your abilities?


Specialists in IP information find that their skills are in growing demand from nearly all departments across the enterprise. R&D groups, for example, are requiring patent information to validate innovations, make decisions about buying or building technologies, and better understand competitors' plans. Legal departments are seeking information to pursue patent infringement litigation or protect the company itself from infringement. Finance groups are seeking patent information to identify revenue-generating licensing opportunities, perform due diligence for mergers and acquisitions, and validate investments. Even the HR department may be using the information in patents to identify leading scientists and engineers for strategic recruiting purposes.

With all of these groups and many more requiring patent information to function competitively, the workload and need for the IP specialist can easily become overwhelming. The myriad demands from the new uninitiated users of IP can ironically result in the IP specialist becoming an educated clerical worker rather than a skilled knowledge worker. Most of your time can become consumed with finding, downloading, and distributing patent documents to these new customers.

Indeed, you possess a host of skills and traits that colleagues across your organization need to leverage. You are, most likely, a legacy system expert, knowing how to most efficiently and cost-effectively use systems and databases to find IP information. You know how to package and present information. You're aware of a variety of sources of information and how each one can be best used. You have a historical perspective on IP information, understanding government classifications, codes, and international relationships. You are also, in all likelihood, a subject-matter expert in a critical area related to your company's core business; depending on your company's core competence, you may be a chemist, biologist, software developer, or other professional.


All of these skills and traits, no doubt, are important to being successful as an IP specialist. But the one that can best elevate your visibility and increase your impact on the organization is your ability to leverage your subject-- matter expertise to gain meaningful insights from information. It is your ability to make sense of the confusing IP world in the context of your company's business, to distill it down to key messages and actions, advise on risks, and recommend business decisions that matter most to those in the executive suite.

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