Patent portfolio management today is about businesses looking at their assets in new ways. Businesses traditionally have viewed employees as their most important assets — and rightly so. However, for a variety of smart reasons, 21st century businesses are rethinking the way they look at and value assets. Historically, intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks and copyrights, have been managed as line items on investor reports. Previously a passive intangible asset, businesses are taking stock of their intellectual property by building and managing their portfolio to secure a competitive advantage and build long-term revenue streams where none existed previously. For example, according to a Stanford University study, in 2011, for the first time Google and Apple spent more on patents than on research and development. Significantly, many of the companies that weathered the recent global economic downturn the best did so in part because they used intellectual property to develop a revenue stream and enhance shareholder value.
IP portfolio management, and more particularly, patent portfolio management, begins with a well-defined strategy. This article series outlines steps in the process, including identifying business objectives, understanding the value of having a plan, and executing the plan. Portfolio management strategies differ based on size of the company (e.g., startups vs. established companies), technology, and service market areas and other particulars.