I had an interesting phone conversation this week with US colleagues who are planning to deliver a course on IP at their local business school. The discussion got me to thinking about doing some tweaking to the syllabus of my own course. In particular, I am considering how to address the issue of the "IP as an cost centre/IP as a profit centre" dialogue. One way to address the topic can be summarized by the observations set out in a September 11 Webinar entitled "The Emerging Role of the CIPO (Chief Intellectual Property Officer)" and sponsored by IAM magazine. There, distinguished IP personalities Rob Sterne, of Sterne, Kessler, Goldstein & Fox, and Ron Laurie, of Inflexion Point Strategy, presented the Webinar and the presentation concluded in part, as follows:
"*More and more companies are managing IP as a strategic business asset.As I see it, (i) IP management should become a strategic concern; (ii) to do so requires re-conceiving IP as a profit rather than a cost element; (iii) a top-down approach spearheaded by the CIPO is the preferred structure to bring this about. There is bit of a 'true believer' tone to the contents of this Webinar presentation, and the idealized CIPO seems to require that he have a permanent letter "S" on his chest. Nevertheless, the points described above seem a pedagogically useful way to structure the topic, provided that they are addressed with a critical eye. Some of these criticial aspects include the following:
* CIPOs will be the visionary drivers for companies that are transitioning from an IP as a cost center mentality to an IP as a profit center model.
*A key success factor in an centralized IP structure is the ability to effectively manage relations with the head of each strategic business unit having a financial interest in the IP value forecast and revenue stream; the CIPO is in a unique position to master these relationships."
1. The approach seems to have a patent-centric orientation. What about trade marks and copyright? How do we fold in trade secrets to the analysis?Stated otherwise, how can I get my arms around the topic in an intellectually honest manner within a limited time frame in order to ensure that my treatment of the topic is not stuck at either the level of slogans or unhelpful generalizations?
2. The approach is focused on a large company environment. To what extent is the approach generalizable, if at all, to small and medium companies?
3. It seems to me that IP can legitimately be a cost, as well as potential profit center, depending upon the circumstances. How do we account for both possibilities?
4. Where can we find examples to the operation of the "IP value forecast and revenue stream" at the business unit level?