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In the run up to the IP World Forum in Amsterdam on October 21 to 23, WIPR caught up with the event’s chair, Danielle Lewensohn, director of IP rights management at RaySearch Laboratories.
How can companies implement effective IP strategies?
The effectiveness of an IP strategy depends on the level of integration of the strategy with the business strategy itself and the underlying business activities. It is also about how company management broadly views the establishment/management of IP rights and to what extent that can be infused into the corporate culture.
I would say it also depends on the actual technology and product development of companies. For instance, if you are a healthcare data-driven business, an IP strategy should be integrated into the overall business strategy, but in this example you need to consider issues related to innovation, privacy, ownership and compliance. All these things are connected and priorities often fall somewhere in between. Effective IP strategies should not prepared in isolation.
How would you prioritise those issues in a business strategy?
As a first priority one needs to know what the business goal is. From there you need to look at all the other issues and how they fit together. You must ask the basic questions, such as: “how should our operations look?” in order to successfully move towards your business goal.
For instance, if you are to push a certain business model involving healthcare data you might be restricted by privacy and ownership requirements, so that rather than disclosing patentable ideas either through the filing of patent applications or publishing scientific publications you might need to keep those ideas as trade secrets.
Prioritisation between these issues will most likely change over time, which is something to keep in mind when it comes to strategising around your IP portfolio.
What global considerations must be made when exporting IP?
From the view of a global actor which is active or pursuing various markets, different approaches to how it exploits IP in a particular market might need to be considered. A company may also, depending on its main markets, want to have a certain IP strategy for those.
As I said earlier, it is necessary to consider the business objectives of today and tomorrow. Additionally, depending on the nature of your business you will want to seek IP protection for the products and services you are selling in a particular market. It could be essential to apply for different IP rights such as trademarks, patents, and designs to be better positioned to exclude others from copying your products and services.
Is there enough protection available to address the changing IP landscape?
If you are referring to a greater focus on intangible assets and data-driven business models, I believe there is a constant need to discuss the interpretation of IP laws. There has also been a change in the past decade in IP legislation, for example more harmonisation across the globe in patent and trademark laws.
The EU directive on biotechnology in 1998 dealt with the patentability of biotechnological inventions. If you followed what happened in the early 1980s with biotechnology you were dealing with a revolution of the paradigm shift where patent laws had to be adapted to what was happening at the technological and business product levels.
“Another way the IP industry could develop is to improve the connectivity and trust between different stakeholders.”
We also have the EU copyright directive that came into force in June, which included the adoption and ambition to improve regulation of copyrights, digital marketing, e-commerce and data-driven digital businesses, platforms, etc.
Alongside this legislation we have ongoing discussions in European patent law on machine learning, artificial intelligence and business applications, as well as further discussions on the patentability of computer-implemented simulations that are still the subject of conversation at the Enlarged Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office.
In what ways do you think IP will develop over the next five years?
We’ll see greater integration of IP intelligence into traditional business intelligence. In order for this to happen, patent data needs to be more AI-ready and therefore, more accessible for business decision-making.
I hope the future will enable better navigation from the big datasets everyone is talking about, distilling to sharper and smaller datasets that are filtered for improved business decisions. That would be fantastic and very helpful for most people in the industry.
Another way the IP industry could develop is to improve the connectivity and trust between different stakeholders. I’m thinking of the patent and trademark offices on the one hand, the patent law firms on the other, and the idea-generators, innovators, and business-owners as an additional group.
One way to steer all these players in this direction could be to apply blockchain technology, which would enable a digital trail of unique ideas or innovative footprints. This could eliminate non-value-add activities—you might not have to sign a document three times between all these players as is the situation today. This technology could become very important to the industry in the future, and you can already see its benefits in other industries such as banking.
Should IP departments be looking to invest now to secure their portfolios?
IP departments should have a broad view of what needs to be included in their portfolios. They should balance the need for innovative seeds that are likely to bloom in the future, as well as IP protections that are considered necessary for specific activities or business deals that are more imminent.
It is always a trade-off and sometimes it’s very hard to forecast. In addition to secure portfolios, if you are responsible for IP in a company, an IP-friendly culture is needed to show that you are open to new ideas. Sometimes that can come from the periphery of what your current business is all about.
In the portfolio I would include the actual rights, the IP rights—trademarks, patents, designs—the people, and the inventors. That is my personal vision of how you should manage IP in a company.
RaySearch Laboratories, IP rights, interview, strategies, technology, healthcare, innovation, privacy, ownership, portfolio, trademarks, patents, designs