Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Integration of Intellectual Property Strategy with Innovation Strategy: Intellectual Property Portfolio Management Should Be Guided by Innovation Strategy," Considering the Market Context and Innovation Strategies in Operation Yields a Framework for IP Strategy

Academic journal article Research-Technology Management

Integration of Intellectual Property Strategy with Innovation Strategy: Intellectual Property Portfolio Management Should Be Guided by Innovation Strategy," Considering the Market Context and Innovation Strategies in Operation Yields a Framework for IP Strategy

Article excerpt

Company patent committees face a difficult task. When a new invention is brought forward, the committee must decide whether to invest the time and money to transform the disclosure into a patent application. The first step in this decision--determining whether the invention disclosure meets the legal hurdles of novelty or utility--is relatively easy. The second step becomes much harder when the invention meets these patentability tests, but its value to the company's business position is unknown. One way of assessing the business value of an invention is to consider the patent's potential role in the company's overall innovation strategy. In fact, as a study of over a hundred companies' patent portfolios and practices revealed, the structure of successful patent portfolios is closely connected to particular innovation strategies.

A Framework for Innovation Strategy

The "Games of Innovation" model, developed by the Industrial Research Institute's (IRI) Research-on-Research Subcommittee on Innovation in collaboration with Dr. Roger Miller at the Polytechnic University of Montreal, provides insight into the range of innovation strategies used by companies (1). This team surveyed over 700 companies in various industries to find patterns in the way innovation processes were related to R&D management styles. After studying how the participating companies went about innovation, Miller, his students, and subcommittee members were able to show that there were eleven types of "games of innovation"--or innovation strategies--utilized in managing R&D (Figure 1). Each of the eleven strategies were common to particular industry sectors; companies using a particular strategy were competing in similar environments and typically focusing their efforts on one class of innovation, such as breakthrough scientific innovation or incremental technical service innovation.

In Miller's framework, two key elements drove innovation strategy: the time it takes to create a working technical prototype of a new product or service (time-to-prototype) and the time it takes for a prototype product or service to reach the market (time-to-market). In general, an industry based on the development of new scientific knowledge will have a long time-to-prototype, one based on the development of new engineering practice to apply this science will have a medium time-to-prototype, and one requiring application of known science and engineering practice will have a short time-to-prototype.

Where it takes a long time to develop prototypes, R&D is resourced, managed, and leveraged for the scientific insight it creates. This often includes the use of government or university partners. On the other end of this scale, where prototypes can be developed very quickly because they can be adapted from other industries or are straightforward from a science and engineering standpoint, R&D is organized more like a technical service organization.

Similarly, time-to-market varies from long timeframes where regulatory compliance is lengthy to much shorter cycles where regulations are nonexistent or nonintrusive and customers quickly recognize the benefits of the prototype. Again, R&D is resourced, managed, and leveraged differently depending on this timescale. For industries that require government approval and conformity to externally defined standards, R&D personnel must be familiar with procedures for testing and for submitting the required documentation and test results. For industries driven by specification standards, such as Underwriter Laboratories (UL) ratings or MPEG3 standards, R&D must have individuals capable of advocating for a particular solution to a particular specification requirement. These individuals should be, typically, recognized research fellows or thought leaders who can sway a room full of standards committee members. For those industries with no regulatory barriers to bringing a product to market, the only requirement is that the product match customer expectations. …

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