Event summary – IP savvy: what every business needs to know to get the most out of their IP
An interactive seminar and networking event hosted by IP Pragmatics and Venner Shipley
With almost 100 attendees, on a wet Weds morning, the inaugural event focussed on early-stage dynamic, technology-based companies being “IP savvy”. The two sessions explored how to practically maximise value of an innovative, forward-looking business at an early and later stage of their life cycle.
The diverse panel had a wealth of experience from SME, big corporate, IP management and investor perspectives; the Chair and Panel shared advice, real-life “war stories” of successes and mistakes surrounding IP management and commercialisation at common decision points in a company’s lifecycle. Here is a flavour of the takeaway points on how business can capitalise on their value at each stage of the commercialisation journey:
Being IP Savvy in the early days
Reviewing the early period of a company’s formation and IP strategy, the first session took a pragmatic look at deciding on backing or dropping individual pieces of IP.
The panel set out a framework of questions and approaches around the development of an IP strategy, what role IP plays in businesses, the importance of continually valuing and evaluating their IP (and IP held by others!), taking a value-based approach, being fully abreast of target market landscapes and situations.
- The importance of IP for modern companies cannot be over-estimated; it can be tangible or intangible and should be actively managed, not “filed and forgotten”
- Similarly, IP strategy is a vital component of any business plan and should be driven by R&D, commercialization, and fundraising strategies over time
- IP is a means to an end, an asset that underpins the value of the business
- An IP [plan] is iterative and must be ready to pivot to support the business’ life cycle
- Become an expert in your industry. Know your market, competitors, IP position and seek advice, this will help anticipate market moves and predict the way competitors will respond to your success
An IP Savvy business in the later years….
The second panel session involved discussions and expert opinions on later stages where IP is an important element of securing financing, collaborations and is the “currency” of licensing transactions and deals. The panel talked extensively about best practices and thinking on IP due diligence, what freedom-to-operate (FTO) really means, an active investors view of company IP, the types of commercialisation transactions that are possible and how to level the playing field in terms of resources and knowledge when entering into deal negotiations with a big licensee/acquiror. Advice from the session was for later stage companies to be informed, prepared and able to leverage their IP to maximise commercialisation outcomes through:
- A clear focus on the current and future market and customer problem(s), linking them to what your technology actually does
- The effective use and benefit of diverse teams inside and outside the company
- Being prepared to walk away [from a bad deal] by having an attractive and actionable alternative “Plan B” deal to fall back on
- Being able to back up positions on valuation with solid argumentation
- Know your incumbents’ base products/costs/features and what quantifiable advantages you bring to them
- A comprehensive understanding of the business and value you chain you are operating in [i.e., the industry], and where your company and IP fits in
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