Intellectual asset owners (and, frankly, many IP attorneys) allow themselves to be consumed by the intellectual asset protection effort. And that is perfectly understandable! The investment of time, energy, and treasure required of, for example, an inventor in a patent prosecution can leave little left of all three. But successful exploitation of an intellectual asset demands diligent attention not just at its birth, but also during its useful life and at its end of life. This is where the law meets the business.
Plan To Execute
Any business executive will tell you that her company does not have the resources to pursue every initiative on its wishlist. This universal truth holds whether one is talking about financial capital, physical capital, or intellectual capital. When prioritizing a list of intellectual asset protection and monetization actions that a company should consider taking, the company’s business plan is a good source of guidance.
The following are some of the basic questions to which you may find answers in a current, well-written business plan:
– What is the company’s full line of products and/or services, both near-term and long-term?
– What is the company’s projected schedule for introducing new products/services to the public (e.g., trade shows, website promotion, investor pitch)?
– Who are the company’s key employees?
– Who are the company’s competitors?
– Who are the company’s customers?
– Who are the company’s prospective suppliers and distributors?
– What sales channels does the company use, both now and in the future (e.g., direct, wholesale, retail, e-commerce)?
– From whom does the company secure funding, both now and in the future; and in what form (e.g., business loans, angel investment)?
– What business artifacts does the company have in place (e.g., sales contracts, employment agreements, nondisclosure agreements)?
This exercise may sound a lot like an earlier blog I shared on creating an inventory of intellectual assets. However, a good business plan also will offer insights into the projected lifespan of each intellectual asset, and to the potential monetary gains (or losses) that the company may experience depending on the “lifestyle choices” it makes vis a vis a particular asset.
More on the IA lifecycle decision-making process in upcoming blogs.