How to Improve your Innovation ROI with Early Stage Patent Expertise

In this in-depth article Jackie Hutter, top IP Strategist and counselor to innovation driven organizations, writes about how to improve the ROI of innovation outcomes by including patent expertise in the front end of the innovation process. The article also includes managerial implications and guidelines for including patent experts in the front end of the innovation process.

Innovation teams are often removed organizationally from a company’s patent matters. This can mean that corporate innovation processes move forward with little or no consideration of whether competitors can legally “knock off” the resulting consumer offering. Companies may then not attain expected ROI because competitors can legally copy the innovation—be it a product, technology or otherwise—without incurring legal liability.

It may not always be necessary to protect innovation efforts with patents, such as where a product has a short shelf-life or where the company may desire to maintain trade secret protection for the technology. However, for innovation endeavors where go-forward financial models assume exclusivity, companies often require patent protection. Also, the absence of patent insights at an early stage frequently means that innovations are not properly scoped for potential infringement risk until significant efforts are expended, a fact which can further limit innovation ROI.

It follows that companies can realize financial benefits by including patent information at an early stage. A key to successful inclusion of patent information in early stage innovation processes is the realization that not all patent experts can operate in this environment and that corporate leadership must competently manage the situation. Nonetheless, companies that effectively include business-focused patent counsel on innovation teams can improve the ability to obtain innovations protected by patents as well as reducing legal risks to improve ROI.

About the author

Jackie HutterJackie Hutter, MS, JD is one of the pioneering ranks of Intellectual Property (“IP”) Strategists. She is Chief IP Strategist of The Hutter Group LLC, a consultancy providing IP-related business and investment counseling to innovation-driven organizations of all sizes that seek to maximize their greatest asset—intangible assets. She has over 15 years experience counseling all types and sizes of organizations in all facets of IP creation, protection and enforcement. Jackie was named one of the 250 top IP Strategists in the world by Intellectual Asset Management magazine for 2009 and 2010. Jackie was named a SuperLawyer® in IP in Georgia in 2004, and she is a frequent speaker on IP strategy. Jackie was previously Senior Counsel at a multi-national corporation and a partner at a well-known Atlanta, GA law firm.