• Win the battles by knowing the enemy and yourself


    Sun Tzu, the Chinese military strategist, philosopher and warrior died centuries before companies started to protect their innovation with intellectual property, but the ideas outlined in his classic manual “The Art of War” are surprisingly applicable when creating an IP-strategy for your company and making sure that you are not accelerating your patent costs. As Sun Tzu stated, "if you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles".

    I’ve developed lots of IP-strategies for technical companies and have realized that companies, especially SME:s don’t analyse the competition in terms of intellectual property rights. There is never an IP-strategy before they contact a patent attorney and usually the board members have no experience how to create an IP-strategy when they start to discuss strategic matters and important decisions for the company.

    The 5 major sins committed by decision makers that leads to accelerating patent cost without any control are:
    1. Filing patent applications without any understanding of the patent arena within the field.
    2. Creation of patent protection for products without understanding how the competition is protecting their products. 
    3. No monitoring on how the technology area is developing over time. 
    4. Assuming that the patent office is making sure that nobody is infringing your patents
    5. Starting a R&D project without making sure that there is freedom to operate. 
    3 reasons why you should create an IP-strategy?
    An IP-strategy is the business gameplan that gets revisited each time the business adapt to the market. Facing reality without an IP-strategy is a bit like the opposite of Sun Tzu´s advice. You will end up in hundreds of battles trying to protect your IP. A business faced without an IP-strategy is like trying to play a game without knowing the rules.

    A simple IP-strategy could be used to:
    1. Lock out competitors from the next generation of product.
    2. Avoid and design around an aggressive competitor.
    3. Maintain market lead through secrecy.
    My 3 top tips to avoid ending up in a costly game.
    1. Before you decide to start protecting you products with IP you should make sure to understand how your competition is handling their own IP. Based on the assessment you should set up your own IP-strategy. 
    2. Always activate search alerts on your competitors and technology based on patent information. You will follow the development and be prepared if you need to take legal action. You may find new markets that you were not aware of but as well new business partners.
    3. Stay well informed and aware of your business playground (competitors and technology) and learn to exploit and capitalize on your gained awareness. If you realise that it does not make sense to protect your product with IPR, make sure that you have freedom to operate (FTO) and start advertising you product. You will save a lot of money because IPR is not always the only way.
    One more thing!
    Make sure to understand who your competitors are and the technology. You will be surprised how much one can interpret from patent information. I will end this by a quote from Sun Tzu "He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious”.

    What´s your best advice?
    Please share your expertise by leaving a comment. Also feel free to share this post in your own network.

    Sign up for the webinar
    Please register for the (free of charge) webinar "How to manage accelerating patent costs" on Sep 1, 2015 12:00 AM CEST at:

    Attending this webinar will give you strategic as well as hands on tips and tricks on how to manage and avoid accelerating patent costs. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

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