Visible Intellectual Property Management

In a soon-to-be-published book, The Visible Business, Chris Pelz and I present a framework for how to develop a business strategy that has a direct line of sight from the facts surrounding the business, through the issues that the business faces, to the potential solutions for those issues, and finally to the selected and deployed strategy(ies).

The intellectual property management framework that I recommend,  Visible Intellectual Property Management, will generally follow those same principles.

  1. Learn the Facts
  2. Identify the Issues
  3. Invent Potential Solutions
  4. Select and Deploy the Best Solutions

The framework takes some inspiration from discussions I’ve had with a good friend, Jim Bradley, an inventor, problem solver, thinker, and multiple patent contributor who is retired from Navistar.  Over the past couple of years we have met for lunch periodically to talk about our common interest in innovation.  It was through those discussions that I discovered that innovation is just one subset of a larger system – intellectual property management.

The framework also owes a big debt of inspiration to Ron Sears of the Design Consortium.  I worked together with Ron for a few years and, like an apprentice, learned his Product Value Matrix (PVM)sm product development and innovation methodology.  Ron lives and breathes value creation, and his PVM process is the best process I know for producing innovation on demand.  Although I cannot borrow wholesale sections of PVM – a proprietary process – and present them to you,  I will sometimes direct you to the website, where you can read about PVM in detail.  By the way, “Product Value Matrix” and “PVM” are service marks of the Design Consortium.

Many intellectual property management systems start at the point where a patent disclosure is made.  I now think that the point of invention is far too late to start managing your intellectual property.  It is at least as important, if not more important, to first understand the value system of your products, services, and processes before you start to invent.

Many companies would claim that the front end of understanding the value system is the responsibility and domain of a marketing department, while the back end of pursuing patent applications is an entirely separate process that is the responsibility of an intellectual property or legal department.  As you read my subsequent posts, you will see that I believe they are both part of the same process, and should not be treated separately.

Next: Learning the Facts