7 Ways You Can Make Intellectual Property a Part of Your R&D Process

It has been proven time and again by credible scholars through rigorous research that patents and trade secrets can be best protected by securing intellectual property. This is true for organisations that have either a single innovation or multiple innovations across several disciplines. However, how does an organisation ensure that its process of research and development (R&D) is guided in the specific direction of ensuring a properly patented technology? This is usually done by integrating IP practices and strategies directly into the ongoing R&D processes of an organisation.

Why should IP and R&D Teams Collaborate?

Involving IP and making it a part and parcel of the R&D process of an organisation can help create an environment of motivation. It has already been confirmed from studies on cross-national and manufacturing industries that IP can to a great extent stimulate the growth and productivity of R&D teams. Moreover, since IP strategies can help R&D teams to better protect their innovations from competitors, it is always advisable that IP be made a part of existing R&D processes.

How to Include IP in R&D Processes

It has already been found that IP rights protection can stimulate innovation as well as lead to the growth of trade between different geographical and political regions. Therefore, IP needs to be made an important part of the R&D process and here are 7 ways that it can be achieved.

1. New Product Innovation

When the R&D teams of an organisation work on a new product that is based on some new technological domain, IP teams should be involved in it from the very first stages. IP analytics related to the new product and its surrounding technology should be shared with the R&D teams so that they gain knowledge about the current state of that technology. IP should be involved in each stage of the product development cycle so that R&D teams know whether the innovation they are working on already exists in the market and/or how it can be improved upon. New innovations should always be monitored by IP teams and their novelty should be confirmed through patentability checks. This can help R&D teams to understand the patentability of their innovations as well as design around certain existing patents to avoid infringement.

2. Freedom to Operate Searches

To help save costs in the process of product launch, it is necessary to conduct Freedom to Operate (FTO) searches beforehand. IP analytics containing data of risks of a product launch in a given geographical or constitutional region can to a great extent help mitigate infringement issues. The R&D teams should incorporate the use of prior art searches for competitor’s claims towards the product they are about to launch. In case of such a claim, prior art searches can be done by IP teams to invalidate such claims. However, if they cannot be invalidated, it is best to license the original IP from the competitors and establish one’s FTO. Along with FTO searches, IP teams can also compile all relevant documents for a particular technological domain and provide IP landscape reports to the R&D department.

3. Analyse Competitors’ IP Strategies

Competitors’ strategies need to be evaluated by IP teams to identify viable streams of innovation. IP teams can monitor such activities of competitors, which can provide useful insight into the organisation’s R&D process. In terms of technology, IP analytics can forecast the path being taken by competitors’ innovations. The R&D process of an organisation can also be optimised based on such information provided by IP analytics reports. This can help the R&D process of an organisation to be unique and novel. Moreover, this can also help the R&D department to have access to competitive alerts. These alerts can help track activities of competitors in any part of the world and help guide the research process in a viable direction.

4. Commercialisation and Monetization

IP strategies and analytics can help R&D teams to analyse the patent portfolio and identify IP assets that can generate the most revenue. It can also help in identifying strong patents in trending technological domains that are already present in the organisation’s portfolio. Such patents can be licensed out to technology firms for higher returns on investments. To successfully monetize IP, R&D collaboration is needed with the IP teams. Since trade secrets are supportive to capital investment, acquisition and licensing, to generate revenue, it should be adopted to protect technical knowledge that can be monetized.

5. Professional Training

Professional training and extensive education can be imparted to inventors and researchers on IP and ways to best utilise it to improve on their own research work. Such training can also enhance the competencies of researches by enabling them to modify or tweak innovations around existing patents. Getting timely alerts of new patents being published can also be a part of a comprehensive training and awareness program for R&D staff. Such technology alerts can help increase the knowledge about existing IPs for the R&D department.

6. Protecting innovations

IP strategies of regularly tracking and analysing the technical disclosures of patents can be used by R&D teams to track the current state of technological innovations. R&D teams can thus, further improvise their innovations onto similar paths. In this way, IP integration into R&D processes can also help organisations to file more patents so that their innovations are better protected. Innovations and patents can also be protected by a system of infringement alerts wherein new Evidence of Use (EoU) are identified. These EoU can be in the form of products, services, or even processes that potentially infringe upon existing patent claims.

7. Assistance in Drafting Technical Documents

IP-related documents often need to contain certain terminologies that can only be interpreted by the strategic IP experience and knowledge of IP teams. Hence, IP teams can provide valuable assistance to R&D teams in drafting product manuals and technical disclosures. Integrating IP into R&D processes can also help in the process of filing patents and trademarks.

Reducing Conflict between IP and R&D

By successfully involving IP strategies and analytics into the R&D processes within an organisation, we can begin the process of integration and collaboration of these two pillars from the start. It is a wide-known fact that further down the line of securing a patent, these two teams will have to work together for the common organisational interests. Therefore, it is necessary to begin this process of collaboration early on.

-The Editorial Team

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