Michael D. Moberly July 27, 2010
Increasingly important questions for entrepreneurs and SME’s is the extent to which their management teams and boards are (a.) familiar with and making effective use of the intellectual property system, and (b.) if not, are there particular barriers that either prevent or inhibit them from doing so?
The larger question perhaps, according to Bill Payne of the Kauffman Foundation, is how many SME’s elect to not pursue conventional intellectual property (IP) protections, i.e., patents particularly, because they recognize, in advance, that they do not have the (internal) resources to rigorously defend their patent position(s) should challenges or disputes arise, or pursue the infringers and/or misappropriators that are all but certain to evolve?
Operational familiarity with IP has become, in my view, an essential business management skill set particularly among SME’s in all industry sectors. Though, while creating and capitalizing on – exploiting innovation to achieve a business (competitive) advantage can become a key differentiator for a company, it can materialize generally only if a company’s management team and board have the necessary foresight to put in place best practices to ensure control, use, and ownership of the assets can be sustained, but not solely through subjective assumptions about the deterrent affects of conventional IP.
Where does this leave the 20+ million entrepreneurs and SME management teams and boards who are essentially faced with many, if not most, of the same complexities and challenges as their larger Fortune 5000 brethern, in terms of being able to effectively safeguard, utilize, and exploit their IP? The reality is that SME’s, are often without the resources compared to their larger counterparts and find themselves managerially, administratively, and fiscally stretched insofar as overseeing their IP and the ability to accommdate the complexities and expense associated with IP processes and procedures.
It’s important to recognize also that we’re operating in knowledge-based global economies, in which 65+% of most company’s value, sources of revenue, and future wealth creation lie in – are directly related to intangible assets. This makes achieving a certain level of familiarity and competency in IP management (oversight and stewardship) matters a necessary underlier to not merely achieving success and profitability, but sustainability!
It’s useful then, for SME management teams and boards to frame their IP (and intangible assets) as strategic business assets, not merely the product of a research activity to remain stagnant or hidden, and otherwise not put to good efficient use.
Unfortunately however, most higher educational (business management) programs and academic units approach intellectual property, patents particularly, as a narrow legal specialization only to be acquired through law school. I hardly believe that’s how we should proceed to build and sustain a strong and sustainable entrepreneurial and SME pipeline.
(This post was inspired by IBM’s The Inventors Forum, Global Innovation Outlook project.)
The ‘Business IP and Intangible Asset Blog’ is researched, written, and produced by Mr. Moberly to provide insights and additional and sometimes alternative views for company management teams, boards, and employees to aid in identifying, assessing, valuing, protecting, and profiting from their intangible assets. I welcome and respect your comments and perspectives at [email protected].