IP Best Practices: 10 Tips to Boost Productivity via IP and R&D Collaboration
Research and development (R&D) is not just food for innovation but the key to effective and sustained growth for intellectual property-centric businesses. That is why it is crucial that an R&D team collaborates with IP management unit of an organization for better results in terms of growth and revenue. This article talks about a few effective IP practices to facilitate better functioning of R&D teams via strong collaboration with IP teams.
The Need for Collaboration
The R&D team of a company engages with IP team right from the early stages of innovation or product development. It helps inventors to foresee and exploit emerging technologies by providing meticulous patent landscape studies. On the other hand, IP teams promptly identify and protect unique aspects of the assets and creative work, evaluate them, and file for patents, copyrights and trademarks.
Therefore, effective collaboration between both leads to the growth of innovation and a significant reduction in the legal risks of owning and working with IP. Executives who manage IP for a company need to efficiently collaborate with R&D teams to facilitate easy execution of tasks, such as patent landscaping and IP monitoring. The synergy between the teams helps the organization to mitigate hidden risks and identify innovative opportunities through revolutionary research.
10 IP Tips to Promote R&D Productivity Team Collaboration
Since R&D units of large organizations need to maintain continuous communication with IP management teams, here are some useful tips for IP leaders to further improve the work of R&D teams so that they are better aligned with company objectives. The points have been listed in the figure below.
1. Understand the Role of IP
Intellectual property plays a vital role in companies that rely on innovative patents created by R&D teams. Therefore, it is important that the business development of the company is focused on this symbiotic relationship between IP and R&D. Intellectual property is an aspect that’s worked upon after an invention or a process is created through R&D.
2. Give Extended IP Access
For an R&D team to function with higher efficiency, it must have access to
patent landscape reports provided by IP teams. With the help of such reports, R&D teams can have a better understanding of the existing patents and trends for a given geographic region. This will help them to develop patents that are specific and unique.
3. Allocation of IP Rights
It is often seen that employees in R&D department work on individual projects that can be further patented or protected under different IP rights, such as trademarks, copyrights, etc. This ultimately serves the end goal of furthering the business objectives of the company. Since these are individual projects of R&D team members that use organizational resources, conflicts may arise when the organization seeks to commercialize such individual projects. IP teams can guide R&D team members to protect such individual projects under joint IPR ownership to assure economic viability for the company. Therefore, IP rights for such inventions must be allocated appropriately to avoid future conflicts.
4. Promote Collaboration
As discussed earlier, efficient collaboration between IP management and R&D team is important. A useful tip to promote such collaboration is to have continuous and unhindered communication between these two departments. Insufficient collaboration between the two can lead to bottlenecks in innovation as well as the asset management process of the organization.
5. Encourage Innovation
Another useful IP tip for the leaders in the industry to boost the functioning of R&D teams is to encourage innovation within the department. The companies can incentivize their innovators to promote high levels of innovation within the R&D department.
6. Identify Interests
It is important for organizations to conduct innovation workshops to identify the interests of R&D team members. They can then be encouraged to pursue them, following which the IP teams can help them to protect those interests. This not only leads to innovation but also fuels the growth of an organization by enhancing the IP portfolio of the company.
7. Give Access to IP Counsel
R&D team should have access to appropriate IP counsel in terms of IP protection, IP prosecution, and IP litigation. It is an indispensable step in optimizing the working of the department. It is disheartening for inventors to see their invention being scrapped because of prosecution and novelty issues. Therefore, indulging in IP counsel right from the beginning saves a lot of trouble.
8. Get IP Search Assistance
Similarly, R&D teams need to be acquainted with modern technologies for quickly searching and understanding the already present IP. It is a necessary step before beginning research and brainstorming for innovation. IP search tools will guide the work of R&D teams towards developing unique and novel innovations. This will prevent the organization from pursuing futile inventions for patent protection. Additionally, help of an external IP consulting expert can be taken as explained in the point below.
9. Seek External IP Consulting
In the case of large organizations that have a diverse patent portfolio, R&D teams may often need support from external IP consultants. The level of expertise offered by them is invaluable for R&D teams. The external team (IP consultants) specializes in various areas of IP services and offers high-quality outcomes and cost-effective solutions such as providing support in identifying publications in a technical domain and resolving any immediate problems.
10. Explore Limitlessly
An R&D team can function effectively only when its imagination and creativity are not restricted by guidelines to innovate around the current product portfolio only. Although companies encourage their R&D teams to develop newer innovations around the context of their existing IP, it is necessary that R&D teams have complete freedom to explore.
R&D and IP teams cannot afford to work independently. In terms of developing innovative products by making use of existing IP, it is imperative that IP management teams work in collaboration with R&D teams to ensure the best results throughout the product development life cycle. Furthermore, the tips mentioned in this article can boost the productivity of the department considerably.
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-Ankur Gupta (IPMS) and the Editorial Team