Startups and other early-stage companies have a lot on their minds — securing funding, finding the right talent, setting a business trajectory, and developing a winning product. For many companies, intellectual property protection may seem like a concern only to more established players. However, valuable intellectual property is crucial for the long-term success of any company and, in many cases, it will be the primary factor in determining its value. Companies should establish an innovation harvesting process to ensure that great ideas from the R&D department make it into patent applications. An Alabama intellectual property lawyer explains how to do this below.
Integrate Intellectual Property Considerations into the Company’s Overall Goals
The value of a company’s intellectual property assets is a crucial factor in its long-term success. IP strategy should not be considered tangential to or separate from the company’s overall strategy, but an essential factor for achieving its goals. If your company’s goal is eventually to be acquired by an established player in your industry, make sure that the patents you are obtaining are the type that would be attractive to those players.
Educate Your R&D Department about Intellectual Property
R&D departments generally are focused on developing the company’s core products and services, as they should be. But they also need to understand that their work product needs to be patented if it is to deliver value back to the company. Educate your R&D team about the importance of intellectual property to the company’s objectives and teach them how to identify potentially patentable innovations.
Incentivize Your R&D Team to Disclose Inventions
R&D teams are much more likely to disclose their innovations if they are incentivized to do so. Make the process easy — such as by using a standard invention disclosure form — and offering perks for each innovation they disclose or tying innovation disclosure to salary and bonuses. Establishing an internal competition or brainstorming sessions is also a good way to get the R&D team on board.
Establish a Point Person for Intellectual Property Matters
Innovation harvesting programs do not run themselves. To ensure that the program is running the way it is supposed to, establish a point person for intellectual property matters within the company who is responsible for overseeing its implementation and tracking its success. While this person does not necessarily need to be an attorney, knowledge of intellectual property law and procedure would be helpful.
Hire Intellectual Property Counsel at the Outset
While few early-stage companies have the funds for an in-house intellectual property counsel, every company should have at least one outside counsel. An intellectual property attorney can not only serve as an advisor to the company’s for innovation harvesting purposes, he or she can also identify innovations that are patentable and begin the patent prosecution process.
Contact an Alabama Intellectual Property Lawyer
If you’d like to implement an innovation harvesting program at your company, you should start by consulting an attorney. To get started, please contact an Alabama intellectual property lawyer at Adams IP by calling 251-289-9787 or by using our online contact form.