There is no doubt that intellectual property is a valuable business asset, but in this day and age, when companies are working to trim costs wherever possible, chief IP officers at large corporations are forced to walk a tightrope of fiscal responsibility.
“The largest issue facing IP officers is cost management, the ability to address all of the IP issues that we have within the budget restraints,” says Glenn Edwards, president, corporate intellectual property at Dräger. “It’s more of a challenge every year.”
In the medical technology space, NPEs are still a concern. Companies like Dräger are working to cope with NPEs, since these businesses operate quite differently from traditional operating companies. “Since the financial crisis of the last five years, many patents are available on the market,” Edwards says. “They were obtained by many organizations and companies whose whole business model is leveraging the portfolios they put together, and some tech companies have been the victims of these entities.”
But patents are not the only area of intellectual property on the mind of Glenn Edwards. He is also concerned with the “softer” IP, such as trademarks. With the rise of e-commerce, says Edwards, this has become more of a hot topic. “The misappropriation of brands and trademarks on products offered on the Internet are not just limited to consumer products but now more business to business products. Medical and safety devices are now available over the Internet, so this is a challenge,” Edwards explains.