The ability to create and protect intellectual property (IP) has become paramount for tech companies aiming to stay ahead of the curve. This is possible when there is an effort to harness the full potential of the company’s innovation. Often, the challenge is getting inventors to take time away from their daily focus to submit inventions or ideas. This article outlines streamlining your IP capturing process in three steps.
Educate inventors about engagement and demonstrate that it’s easy and efficient.
Throughout the years, I have seen many companies make the mistake of making the process complicated and cumbersome. Before diving in, it’s crucial to ensure that everyone in your organization understands the significance of intellectual property and their role in its creation and protection. IP education should be an integral part of your company culture, from the newest intern to the most seasoned executive.
Here is what you should think about and implement:
- Start by conducting workshops or training sessions to educate employees about the different types of IP, including patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. This will help them recognize the value of their creations and the need to protect them.
- Interview management first about the innovation to learn what the level of innovation is, the demands on the inventors and the upcoming quarterly deliverables. The more you learn, the better you will be at creating a program that inventors can easily engage in.
- Create a program for capturing innovation. There is no right answer or approach with the exception of one rule: Keep all inventor interviews under 30 minutes!
- Educate management to demonstrate that your approach does not waste time and is efficient. Once you have the buy-in, then educate the inventors. This education should demonstrate that the time demand on the inventors is very brief.
- Encourage management to include idea submission by the inventors as part of the review process for the inventors. There is no right approach—just having something is enough to motivate the inventors.
- Establish a budget and how to allocate funds for doing this work with input from management. Patent filing is a cost, and this is typically going to come from someone’s budget!
Establish a way to evaluate inventions for the purpose of preparing and filing patents.
Without a clear approach to identify the inventions that are worth pursuing, there is no way to file for protection on everything, unless you have unlimited budgets or funding. You can find more about how to best navigate your IP budget in a previous article, here. First order of business is to develop a clear IP strategy that aligns with your business goals. Deciding which innovations to protect through patents, trademarks, or copyrights, and which to keep as trade secrets is necessary. You will also want to establish an internal IP committee or team responsible for overseeing the IP capturing process, ensuring compliance, and resolving disputes. Having a clear leader in this space will ensure the success of the program and ensure your company’s IP policies are enforced and you are taking swift action against any violations or infringements.
With the development of committees and programs to oversee your IP you may want to tailor them to specific departments. For instance, developers should understand software patenting, designers should be aware of copyright issues, and marketers should know about trademark protection.
When it comes to your innovators you will want to reward them appropriately. Providing bonuses for innovation will help to incentivize creativity.
- Monetary Rewards: Offer financial incentives such as bonuses or profit-sharing for employees who contribute innovative ideas that lead to valuable IP.
- Recognition and Awards: Recognize and celebrate employees’ contributions to innovation through awards, certificates, or public acknowledgment within the organization.
- Career Advancement: Create career pathways that reward employees who consistently generate valuable IP with promotions or increased responsibilities.
Implementing these measures empowers your team to prioritize valuable IP for potential patenting, which in turn helps guide the company towards sustained growth and future secured revenue.
Control the time practitioners spend with inventors during an inventor interview.
Overall, you want the inventor interview to be focused and on point, 30 minutes or less and led by an agenda. Failing to do any of these will result in the interview being the first negative impression for the inventors, and they will spread the word. On the other hand, having the inventor interview be precise and on-point will result in happy inventors and the reputation of the program will grow in a positive way. Below is a list of other non-negotiables when it comes to planning out your inventor interviews:
- Ensure internal or outside counsel do not use inventor interview to gain a first impression. The inventor interview is a time to get questions answered about the specifics of the invention. This is not a time to learn about the invention for the first time. The practitioner needs to arrive at the interview having a basic understanding of the invention.
- Inventor interviews should have an agenda that is clear and prepared by the practitioner. It is just like any other meeting. My basic rule for inventor interview: No agenda, no meeting. Too often, patent practitioners show up to the meeting to learn about the invention, but this wastes time. This is a time to have specific questions answered.
- Use the interview to create a few independent claims. This is one of the most important things the practitioner should do while the inventor is present and contributing in real time. Do not leave the meeting without this.
- End the meeting early!
Streamlining your IP capturing processes is not just a matter of efficiency, it’s a strategic must for tech companies. By prioritizing your IP capturing process within your company, you can fully harness the creative potential within your teams and ultimately help secure the future revenue of your company.
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First seen on Forbes Business Council