Here are 6 principles you won’t find discussed in any academic book on intellectual property (IP law). Legal culture tends not to promote practical IP advice in Australia. For Lightbulb that’s an inspiration and an opportunity.
This IP law blog has always been on a mission to discover and promote know-how rather than theory about IP. Our mission is to distill know-how from what we read and learn as IP lawyers and consultants in projects for clients.
- IP pleasure principle: An intellectual property team needs legal and other environments conducive to creativity, invention and innovation. The point is that culture is important, and broadly speaking law is part of a broader cultural environment for people. Participants in a venture are more likely to contribute, and with enthusiasm, if the moral, legal and commercial basis of their involvement is clear. Practical action – put into place processes, contracts and other documents which clarify the basis for participation in the venture by the people and stakeholders involved. These may include a policy and procedures manual, job descriptions, and a performance management monitoring and review system.
- IP design principle: The need to properly assess design requirements is a mission critical need since late stage design changes are much harder than they are for a change of strategy or tactics. The point is that getting things right the first time is best. Late stage design changes can be costly. This is also true for IP registrations as well. Very often the failure to obtain the advice of experienced IP professionals results in less than useful registrations, contracts and other documentation. Practical action – work to a plan, prioritise, do work in the right order, hire experts for guidance.
- IP capability principle: Without proper processes and competencies opportunities disappear. Capability makes opportunity more often than luck. Practical action – build capability.
- IP organisation principle: You know what house to build when you first work out how you’ll be living in it. Forming an organisation, partnership or other type of collaboration is no different. An appropriate structure is one built for specific functions. An instinct or desire which is very common and understandable, but wrong, is to form organisations and only then work out their functions and use. The previous five points are all about building that software before you select and spend on hardware. Practical action – work out the functions of your company and only then turn to its form (eg shareholders, directors, constitution, registered office etc).
- IP framework principle: To acquire value for a proprietor, combine creations, inventions and innovations with an intellectual property (IP) team, structured activities and strategy. The point is that on its own intellectual property is very rarely enough. So usually it’s not about just a trade mark, patent or copyright. Instead, it is how those intangible assets are treated in the framework of a group of people, resources etc to work together in structured activities and for clear strategic aims. Practical action – work to a clearly articulated vision and work to a plan, all preferably in writing.
- IP monopoly principle: Approach intellectual property as an opportunity requiring an intellectual property team, structured activities and strategy. That helps increase and protect monopolies built on intellectual property. The point is that an opportunity to build an intellectual property monopoly is strengthened when the people, activities and strategy and in alignment. Again, it is in only rare and exceptional situations (eg where IP is already an established success) that the IP on its own constitutes a basis for increasing and protecting it. Hence usually the people, contributing activities and strategy need to be nailed down first. Practical action – give everyone a plan to work to and put contracts in place for employees and contractors designed to suit the plan.
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