Michael D. Moberly July 8, 2008
Investment in a start-up, early stage company, or an R&D project is really about intangible assets!
All innovation, R&D, patents, etc., essentially start life as intangibles in the form of proprietary know how, trade secrets, etc. Treating those key, innovative intangible assets in a cavalier manner and neglecting good trade secret – proprietary information protection practices borders on fiduciary irresponsibility today.
In today’s highly compressed R&D environments, ideas and innovation (research, science, etc.) can mature very rapidly and, if effective stewardship, oversight, and management are not practiced, they can easily meld into open (public domain) sources through neglect or illegal/unethical acts and, once there, protections end and worse, value (of the innovation) will likely be significantly reduced, if not go to zero!
Also today, there is a growing probability that most cutting edge innovation is already the subject-target of broad (global) competitor-business intelligence and data mining initiatives. One consequence of which is that a portion of the value and potential market, if commercialized, may already be diluted (weakened) something which I refer to as ‘silent hemorrhaging’.
Solutions and Strategies
Stewardship, oversight, and management of innovation and R&D must provide much more to investors and IP holders than mere snap-shot-in-time reference points by respectfully:
1. Peeling back overconfident and/or naive representations by innovators and (IP) holders about the sufficiency of their information asset protection practices with respect to sustaining (preserving) control, ownership, and value of the innovation.
2. Assessing the extent to which an R&D project (innovation) may have already been diluted relative to being able to fully exploit (commercialize, maximize, extract) its projected value.
3. Scrutinizing the intellectual capital underlying the innovation (R&D) by examining its origins (historically, sequentially) from ‘idea-concept through its current stage of development’.
4. Assessing ‘attractivity and demand’ factors for key – at risk components of the innovation from a competitor-business intelligence and data mining perspective.
Again, all patents, whether provisional or issued, should start life as proprietary know how in which effective stewardship, oversight, and management are not only warranted, but essential!