Category Archives: Intellectual Property

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Innovation Everywhere

InnovationIn a recent article by BCG, Casting a Wide Innovation Net, they explain how the best innovators gather ideas from a variety of sources, such as employee ideas, internal sources, and customer ideas. The cornerstone for maintaining this information are the software systems that can tie together disparate organizations and people while enforcing security.

A Fictional Example of Innovation

Tara had just finished visiting with her largest customer, a network of 13 hospitals in her county. She had met with many people that day, but one meeting in particular had stood out. She had met with Dr. George Freeman, chief of surgery, who explained the problem they were having with their aging set of surgical instruments.   Dr. Freeman explained that they have the budget and are prepared to buy new sets, but they have one major reservation with the ones that Tara’s company makes.  They are uncomfortable for left-handed surgeons, and George happens to be left-handed.  He goes on to explain that without something different, the sale will go to Tara’s competitor.

Tara knows that this is a major problem.  This hospital system is a major customer and purchases millions of dollars of products from her company.  Letting her competitor get an advantage like this could be devastating.  Tara takes her problem to her supervisor.
Tara works in the marketing department and presents her issue to the group.  She explains Dr. Freeman’s problem, and how they’ll lose the sale without a change.  Tara champions a suggestion made by Dr. Freeman, which simply involved moving the finger clasp about 20 degrees off center.  Tara is familiar with her company’s manufacturing capabilities and realizes that although this is a significant change, they can (and have) made this accommodation in the past.  After they talk with a few others in marketing, they realize that this is their only chance to make the sale, and take their issue to the engineering department.

A few days later, a meeting is scheduled with engineering, and they make their presentation.  The engineering group has assembled their senior engineers, and they’re joined by the company’s controller and manufacturing VP.  Tara prepared slides outlining the issue, and she documents how sales will likely increase substantially as a result.  No one else has instruments with this capability.  Engineering spends a few days and designs a new set of instruments, noting that the clasp should only be moved 19 degrees off center.   Preliminary mock-ups prove the point, and the change to manufacturing is estimated at $850k (a fraction of what the potential sales will be).  Finance approves the money and the project is started.

Tara’s company is responsive, voice-of-the-customer oriented, and innovative.  They addressed the need of a major customer, secured new sales revenue, and improved their product.  But did they really do the best that they could?

Tara’s company has repeated the missteps of many organizations.  They answered the question for an important sale, but they really didn’t innovate.  Find out how using MindMatters’ processes and the Innovator™ software system can make supercharge your organization.  Click here to request a copy.

Best Practices for Patent Review Teams

Patent Review TeamsRead about how to get the most from your patent review process in this free white paper, Top Ten Best Practices for Patent Review Teams.

Written for managers, participants, and administrators of an organization’s patent review team, it provides a framework for establishing a highly efficient invention review process. Whether you already have a team in place or are considering starting a team, the paper offers suggestions ranging from rewards to team composition.

When patent programs are established, organizations naturally consider the process for collecting inventions, concepts, and ideas—all of the up front issues, yet only give cursory thought to the review and management process.  Few seldom consider what they’ll do with the large number of inventions that often get submitted, believing that having too many will be a good problem. And while it’s important to make sure that you have a good supply of inventions, the real value of an innovation program is actually finding the best to patent.

The free white paper is located at  http://www.mindmatters.net/Resources/WhitePapers/TopTenBestPracticesforPatentReviewTeams.aspx

Use Consumer Technology as a Springboard to Innovation

You’ve either seen them or you have them new consumer communication devices that allow a convergence of all kinds of methods of communication. Smart phones, mini computers, handheld game systems, and organizers have become faster, smaller, and capable of carrying out multiple tasks at once.

As people, your customers, take advantage of all these new technological marvels, where is your business in the process? These changes in the communication systems provide opportunity for an innovate push in creating interaction with your business’s public. Consider also the social networking community and the opportunities those sites provide.

While there are concerns that must be addressed, it’s a useful exercise to look at the innovative ways your company can utilize these new resources, both within the company in employee interactions, but also outside the company in the interactions it has with its customers.

If a company sees these new technologies as an opportunity to connect in ways not before considered. This creates an excellent opportunity for innovation as both the IT team and the customer service team.

Don’t get caught in the rut of “This is how we’ve always done it.” Instead, look at the technology and see how your employees and customers use it. Think of the possibilities, and come up with some interesting ways to integrate that technology into your everyday practices.

See http://businessinnovation.cmp.com/collaboration/feat_collaboration_12092008.jhtml;jsessionid=LFLESCIQPZG30QSNDLPSKH0CJUNN2JVN for more ideas.

Intellectual Property Law Changes

The primary change to the intellectual property law in 2008 was the PRO IP Act of 2008. This is officially known as the Prioritizing Resources and Organization for Intellectual Property Act, and it serves to maximize the penalties for criminal counterfeiting.

The PRO IP also creates a federal level intellectual property enforcement coordinator, adding cabinet-level weight and coordination to the process of enforcement.

The law primarily applies to those who counterfeit copyrighted material, but it also makes important changes to the trademark laws.

The three primary provisions of the law are the creation of the cabinet post, a broadening of the governments ability to permanently seize pirated goods, and an increase in penalties on those who infringe on properties by expanding the definition of a creative work.

Consumer and public advocacy groups argued that the law didnt adequately balance the rights of the consumer with the rights of the major software, media and pharmaceutical companies, the entities most likely to benefit from the changes to regulation.

The Business Software Alliance, Motion Picture Association of America, and the Recording Industry Association of America were primary supporters of the law, which included the first increase in the allowable damages, including those damages awarded for trademark infringement.

The penalties hadnt been raised since 1996, leading some in the media industry to complain that they were tremendously out of date. The penalty may now be up to $2 for each counterfeit mark per type of goods sold, offered for sale or distributed, rather than $1 as in the previous law.

How to Sharpen the Innovation Edge

Encouraging innovation is one of the essential ingredients for economic growth. The problem is there is little agreement on how to do it. Investing in research and education, getting the maximum benefit from global education, supporting the patent office, and maintaining free markets are all good ways to support innovation. They must be carried out to their fullest to ensure the further economic growth in America and the world. Competition in a free market spurs innovation.

In this article, the author points out good things and bad things about the highly successful American Innovation Machine. Collaboration across national boundaries, graduate science and engineering funding, and just the right level of IP protection are good things. Building up walls around IP, wasting of time and money in the backlog of patents, and the difficulty of adopting policies of change and innovation are the things we need to work on.

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