According to patent attorney James Cullem, intellectual property is an often overlooked element of business operations. Most executives, he says, rely heavily on the legal department to address intellectual property (IP) issues. Here, James Cullem explains why intellectual property can help a business accomplish a broad array of management goals, from generating revenue systems to improving products to accessing new markets.
Interviews and News: We’re grateful to have you here with us today. Thank you for joining us.
James Cullem: The pleasure’s all mine.
Interviews and News: For the benefit of our readers, could you define IP assets?
James Cullem: Intellectual property can be broadly thought of as any proprietary technology or right that gives its owner a commercial advantage in the competitive marketplace. For all intents and purposes, IP assets include trade secrets, technology in/out licenses, and patent, copyright, and trademark portfolios.
Interviews and News: How does an in-house intellectual property attorney (e.g. Patent Counsel or General Counsel) help to monitor and manage these company assets?
James Cullem: Within an organization, IP strategy is just one part of an extensive business plan, which should integrate and align other departmental strategies, like Business Development strategy, Marketing strategy, etc., to advance the mission and vision of the company. While an experienced patent attorney will have expansive knowledge about patents, trade secrets, licenses and trademarks, it’s important to think beyond the tactical legal management and monitoring of these IP assets to understand the greater strategic implications in view of the overall business plan.
Interviews and News: Why is this such vital knowledge to possess?
James Cullem: Intellectual property strategy won’t be maximally effective unless it integrates and aligns with the other core departmental strategies currently in place, all of which should regularly be updating to match any changes in core business plan.
Interviews and News: How does a business go about the process of assembling an effective IP strategy?
James Cullem: An IP strategy is the company’s strategic program for developing, protecting, and then leveraging its portfolio of intellectual property assets while staying consistent with the company’s overall business plan. The ultimate goal is to return value from this asset investment and maximize competitive advantage. The process of developing and implementing the IP strategy will be led by the company’s chief Patent Counsel, but requires early and frequent involvement of other departmental leaders and executive management to properly align with company mission and vision, and to remain adequately supported, financially and with management buy-in.
Interviews and News: What are some of the other aspects of a successful business plan?
James Cullem: Other areas would include sales and marketing strategy, business development strategy, as well as research & development. Failing to consider all of these activities and strategies in tandem can result in a number of problematic issues in optimizing the IP strategy and return-on-investment from a company’s IP assets.
Interviews and News: What’s the potential fallout from introducing an ineffective IP strategy into the business?
James Cullem: Spending time and energy – not to mention, money – on wasteful and inefficient projects is a recipe for disaster when it comes to a company’s bottom line. This often leads to poor execution on the part of executives and other members of the organization. Developing, securing, and maintaining IP assets, usually on a worldwide basis to cover a company’s core markets, is a very expensive undertaking, in which inefficiencies quickly yield substantial, unrecoverable costs. Accordingly, IP strategy needs to be constantly monitored and adjusted as the business develops, and IP asset portfolios need to be audited regularly to cull out underperforming assets and optimize ROI.
Interviews and News: Thanks again for sharing your expertise with our readers today.
James Cullem: Not a problem. My pleasure!
As the co-founder of Halcyon Diagnostics and Paradigm Oncology, as well as a two-time former Chief Counsel within biotech companies, James Cullem has been a consistent force in the biotechnology industry for over two decades.