Earlier this year we launched KL Innovation. Our mission is to provide a grown-up innovation service to businesses which integrates the best innovation, strategy and legal expertise.

One of the unique offerings of KL Innovation is the integration of Intellectual Property (IP) thinking at every stage of the process. I have observed many times over the years that ignoring IP considerations undermines value and risk management in innovation. There are 4 key ways that integrated IP can drive benefit:

  • Financial benefits
  • Competitor and industry intelligence
  • Risk management
  • Protection

The state of innovation

As we all know, staying ahead of competitors, developing new services and products, finding new customers and new opportunities, re-inventing relationships, and generating new insights are just some of the marks of success. Innovation is at the heart of business competitiveness.

As a result, many innovation consultancies have sprung up to help organisations navigate this territory. I have been part of this movement since 2012. In that time, I have helped start-ups, SME’s and corporates to launch new businesses, products and services, create innovation processes, build internal capability, and guide exec teams to balance their portfolio between sustaining innovations and truly disruptive innovations.

But during this time, I have been astonished by how seldom the topic of Intellectual Property (IP) has come up!

Why does IP matter?

The term ‘Intellectual Property’ refers to unique, valuable creations resulting from human ingenuity, creativity and inventiveness. IP is protected in law by a range of rights including patents, copyright and trade marks,which enable the owner to earn recognition or financial benefit from what they invent or create.

If you’re not familiar with IP, you’ll be amazed at the range of innovations that can be protected.

In the right circumstances (and with the best advice), patents for data processing methods, trade marks for slogans or even colours and database rights for collections of publicly known data are all capable of protection and licensing.

KL Value Proposition

Leaving IP considerations and tools out of the innovation process is akin to throwing money and market intelligence out of the window.

KL Innovation has developed a range of tools that provide valuable insight into competitor activity, and white-space (lack of innovation activity) in their industry. As well as tools to protect, monetise, and provide beneficial tax treatment of developed IP. The diagram below provides an overview.

The Elusive Business Case

It can be notoriously difficult to put a convincing business case for an innovation project forward.It’s easy enough when it’s an increment to an existing product, but the more inventive and further you get from the existing core business, the harder it gets. Integrating IP can help however. IP discovery and monetisation are key tangible benefits of innovation that are often overlooked. Asset value can be captured and later monetised even if the project doesn’t proceed to full commercialisation.

And then there’s tax. There are significant tax benefits such as R&D Tax Credits and PatentBox that can be applied. Understanding this, and planning for it, early in the process, is important.

Finding opportunities

Innovation faces the twin problems of sometimes being too restricted, sometimes going to wide. Examining the IP landscape of your industry or product territory can be extremely helpful in navigating the territory. The IP landscape map for blockchain below, for example, shows the clustering of patents under the common groupings to give an idea of the activity of competitors and others in adjacent industries. Another perspective is to look at the specific activity of your competitors.

Managing those risks

Innovation is naturally a high risk, high reward activity. Anything you can do to manage your risks down should be jumped on. IP insight can again help by identify areas where you will struggle to have freedom to operate, or will need, for example, data licenses. For example, if you’re innovating with data,you need to consider whether your usage of data is lawful, and whether yoursupply can be guaranteed.  

Protecting your brilliance

Once you have a great idea, there are real benefits in protecting it.There are a variety of ways of doing it, and it can be done at an early stage of the work. This frankly used to be an expensive process, but tech enablement of IP-processes has bought the cost down to levels where you should consider doing this.

We’re not just about IP

Adding IP to the innovation cycle yields great value. But you still need a great innovation process and team behind it.

KL Innovation brings together expert innovation leaders and IP (intellectual property) expertise to ensure that great businesses and ideas can be both maximised and protected.

Our professionally-assured process takes a lean approach, considering portfolio risk, focussing from the outset on what customers actually want and providing a full groundwork in IP, enabling potentially swift monetisation. This unique IP integration model will assist with identifying risks, costs and opportunities that may otherwise be missed.

Please contact us directly to discuss this further. We look forward to hearing from you.