Friday, September 15, 2017

Intellectual Property (a.k.a Why Your Products Are Better Than Everyone Else's)

Although the topic of intellectual property has been in the new a lot of late, it’s not been for the right reasons. IP litigation and patent reform are the pressing issues of the day. But despite the negative headlines, IP is successful to the success of the most important thing in your business: your products.

This is clear wherever you look. Take Apple, for instance. Apple has the same access to media, consultants, and skilled engineers as every other major tech company in the world. And yet, when it comes to Apple products, there’s no comparison in the way consumer treat them. While people might be prepared to let a regular Windows laptop get dirty, nobody walks around with filthy Apple products. They say something about the person who owns them, such is the power of their brand.

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Or what about Harley-Davidson? The motorbike manufacturer uses the same distribution and marketing networks as every other motorcycle company. Yet owning a Harley-Davidson is different to owning, say, a Yamaha. The product, along with the IP, says something about the owner - something which has real monetary value.

Common phrases are also able to be trademarked these days. McDonald's has made a fortune with “I’m Lovin’ It.” KFC has done the same with “finger-licking’ good.” Both these restaurants have access to the same food experts, distribution channels and marketing companies as every other, yet they’ve emerged as the most popular fast-food brands in the world because they got their IP right.

Use The IP Of Others To Boost Your Innovative Potential
But patents aren’t all about excluding others from making a lot of money. They’re also about inclusion. In fact, the patents of others can be used to make your product better. How so? Simple really. Patent records as a vast treasure trove of ideas. They represent the sum of human innovation, right on the frontiers of business. Not only will you find great ideas for new products here, but also the inspiration to go on and develop your own. Using the technological breakthroughs of others, you could fast-track new products.

Discover Your Competitor's Product Strategies
Sleuthing on another firm directly is expensive, and legally risky. But thanks to patent databases, there’s no need to take such risks to find out about your competitor’s products. Everything your competitors plan on doing in the future is captured in the database (assuming they’ve submitted a patent), and this information can be used to adjust the course of your own product development strategy. You can find key weaknesses in their design and adjust your product accordingly to better position yourself in the market place.

License Ready-To-Use Technology

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Just because something is patented, doesn’t mean that your company can’t use it. It just means that if you want to use the technology, you’ll have to pay a fee to the licensee. Companies, like Samsung and Apple, do this all the time, so it sits perfectly well in existing business models. Often, by using the technologies of other companies, you’re able to accelerate your own R&D and get an edge.

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