By Rob Davey, VP of Strategy for the IP Group at Clarivate
Of all the factors driving innovation, many companies across a spectrum of industries have three C’s in common— curiosity, commitment and creativity. At the Clarivate IP Forum 2021, panelists and moderators stressed these factors and the power they have on innovation and a company’s success, particularly in the IP realm.
Featuring two panel discussions and a presentation by the Clarivate IP Group President Jeff Roy, the Forum examined IP as a driver of business growth and innovation, and how successful companies and corporations can best integrate IP into corporate strategy. As the panelists highlighted, no one approach works for all corporations or industries, however, common factors, influences and approaches to innovation and strategy can be found throughout.
Bringing IP strategy to the boardroom
In the event’s first panel – moderated by the Head of Strategic Development in the IP Group at Clarivate, Vasheharan Kanesarajah – heads of corporate IP departments discussed the importance of integrating IP strategy and innovation in all aspects of their companies, including at the C-suite level.
Amy Xu, the Chief Patent and Technology Counsel at Alibaba, said that innovation should be behind every decision made in a company, particularly when it comes to the rapidly changing needs of consumers. To Xu, a good majority of the innovation that comes from Alibaba is driven by their customers’ wants and needs, along with wider shifts and trends in the industry.
For Karl Reichenberger, the VP, Co-Chief Patent Counsel and GC for Digital Solutions at Johnson Controls, encouraging innovation and paying attention to external factors, such as sustainability, is integral in aligning a company’s IP with their innovation and product strategies. Reichenberger said that he believes a company’s IP team should be deeply integrated into corporate strategy and that IP ought to be a continual topic in the boardroom.
Echoing his fellow speakers, Uwe Over, Corporate VP and Head of IP at Henkel, encouraged companies to have their IP team be their “internal entrepreneurs” that can grab the attention of higher management and prove to those at the C-suite level that they are ahead of the curve in both terms of innovation, creativity and strategic thinking.
Amy Xu emphasized the importance of using data and analytics to communicate IP in the boardroom. Uwe Over further highlighted the growing importance of IP analytics and that it can be used to share very complex IP portfolio questions with business leaders.
Valuing all IP assets
As panelists emphasized the need for an integrated IP strategy, other speakers touched on the influence different types of IP have on a company and its success. I moderated the second session where IP leaders dove into the role patents, trademarks, industrial designs, domain names and trade secrets play.
Daniele Lingua, Head of IP at Ferrero, said that while both trademarks and designs are beneficial and integral to the company’s model, his department looks to build strong and versatile trademarks that can be used for an extended time period, especially given the slower pace of innovation in the food and beverage industry compared to others.
For the Chief Patent Counsel and Global Head of IP at Lenovo, John Mulgrew, working in the technology industry causes his company to rely primarily on patents as their main source of IP protection. Mulgrew emphasized, however, the importance of ensuring every dollar the company spends truly serves the company and their employees’ best interests, which thus impacts which IP assets are patented or trademarked.
Sarah Sahans, Director of IP at AkzoNobel, echoed her fellow panelists’ calls for a diverse IP portfolio, one which also includes trade secrets. According to Sahans, the upside to keeping a trade secret is that, in theory, the trade secret lasts forever. Along with the longevity a trade secret can provide, it is also a cost-efficient alternative to patents, which Sahans emphasized should be used for items that make a direct impact on the business.
IP must be prioritized
Closing off the IP Forum 2021, Jeff Roy, President of Clarivate IP Group, stressed the important role IP plays in a company’s growth and place among the competition. As Roy pointed out, IP can make or break a company and be a significant differentiator in the market.
The key takeaway has to be that IP does not end with registering a patent or trademark. IP should be included in all elements of a company’s strategy and corporate plan if they want to succeed and, to achieve this, businesses and their talent should work hard to create and maintain an innovative culture – one that is curious, committed and creative.