Everything you ever wanted to know about … Innovation Assets
How is digitalisation shaping the future of intellectual property? What makes innovation and brands most vulnerable? Why are IP management and brand protection converging? What does it mean for your intangible assets… and what should you do about it?
If, like us, you are captivated by such questions, you might like to join us as we explore a range of interesting and engaging topics across IP, brand enhancement and protection. We will be considering some of the fundamental changes that are shaping the industry, including those we are in the middle of or leading, by pulling together insights from our own experts and other thought leaders who are confronting these topics every day.
Kicking things off, this is everything you ever wanted to know about Innovation Assets.
Back in April, we brought together Zacco and OpSec, two similar but different players from the world of IP and brand. But why combine a 150 year old patents, trademarks, and digital security business with a modern provider of authentication and brand protection solutions? More specifically, how does something that we call an “Innovation Asset” fit into this vision of the combined business and what role will these assets play in our own future?
Those familiar with Zacco know that the IP360 approach operates across three principal areas: Innovation Assets, Digital Assets, and Identity Assets. Each encompasses discrete but interconnected aspects of an organisation’s ability to identify, capture, develop and secure their
intangible assets. In the future, we will be exploring the significance of Identity and Digital Assets but first Mats Boström, General Manager of Zacco IP Solutions, sat down with Tomas Wässingbo, Business Development Responsible for Innovation Assets, and Selva Selvaratnam, CEO of the OpSec Group to talk Innovation Assets.
How can you identify and protect what makes an organisation innovative?
Intellectual property rights form part of the foundation and underlying value of many intangible assets. While a patent may represent that value, it forms part of a wider ecosystem and is often the result of a long and complex innovation journey that leads to its development. Innovation Assets encompass the ingenuity and creativity that could lead to the development of a specific technology or product. For example, ‘know how’ or the development processes in an organisation, or the trade secrets or algorithms they have created. Some companies have yet to realise that each of these areas represent a potential asset, some of which can be clearly defined and protected.
OpSec and Zacco already protect the innovation and intellectual property that consumers know about, through patents, trademarks, product authenticators, or online content and brand protection, for example. But Zacco’s Innovation Assets area is also about protecting the DNA that underpins innovation. This helps organisations identify and safeguard their ability to innovate as well as the potential patents and other intangible assets that they are not yet aware of. This is often achieved by better understanding what can be protected and how to capture it, as well as developing an internal culture of IP awareness that recognises potential IP when it emerges.
But what has this got to do with golf balls?
Zacco often use the example of the golf ball to demonstrate what is meant by overarching protection. A Patent professional will see the Utility Patents involved, so the function of the ball, whether that be the fluid dynamics and airflow involved, or the chemical makeup of the ball itself, the structure of the small dimple patterns and the technical effect of those. They may then consider how to protect the mold that incorporates all of this and allows an equipment manufacturer to produce the golf balls themselves.
A Trademark and Design professional will focus on the ball design, the shape, the appearance, even the spacing between those dimples, and show that these can be protected, along with how they can be incorporated into a wider anti-counterfeiting strategy. They consider where and how the branding is portrayed, its positioning on the ball, how it looks when used and how these assist customs agents or the public in recognising fakes.
So how do you create a business strategy that can harness those internal ideas?
The value of intangible assets needs to be protected, and Innovation Assets introduces the means by which to protect, secure and monetise ideas. EU firms with patent ownership earn on average 36% higher revenue per employee, according to a joint EUIPO and EPO analysis, so developing and maintaining patent protection represents an important part of staying competitive in markets that are ever more defined by innovation.
A patent portfolio represents a treasure trove of potential. Patents form a key part of technological development of an original idea, allowing public protection for a defined time period, ensuring that no other organisation can use that idea without permission. Such permissions can themselves be a potential revenue stream, with entire corporate ecosystems dedicated to patent licensing and cross licensing, particularly within areas they rely upon advanced technology or extensive research, such as the telecommunications, automotive or
pharmaceutical industries. Zacco’s patent and trademark knowledge represents a significant step forward and widening of OpSec’s licensing solutions, and Innovation Assets will form a key part of those workflows in the future.
How did Zacco and OpSec take different journeys to a single destination?
Both organisations recognised the fundamental value of intangible assets. Zacco, with its three IP asset models, worked towards developing the infrastructure to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to protect and future proof what makes an organisation unique. For OpSec, platforms were already developed to protect and monetise those rights that are known about. But becoming a true end-to-end provider meant working alongside customers throughout the entire development lifecycle. In Zacco, OpSec found a partner who shared a vision of supporting and protecting intangible assets in all their forms, and who were not afraid to think unconventionally.
End-to-end solutions within intellectual property means being able to understand each of the different aspects of a product or brand, where and how it might be used or copied, where it sits in the marketplace, and how it might be explored or shared by consumers or copied by others. Together, OpSec and Zacco can build a unique brand and business, able to assist organisations “from inception to implementation” and beyond.
Why is the innovation agenda so important for OpSec in the future?
Addressing innovation assets and other asset models of Zacco offers an opportunity to provide more in-depth service to customers. The nature of innovation remains unpredictable, as new ideas can arise from anywhere, but a firm grasp of innovation assets can help better identify and capture innovations and ideas. It could also help understand a competitor’s patents, potentially offering an insight into their own innovation journey. Innovation, Identity and Digital Assets represent our future approach to intellectual property and our aim to provide solutions that encompass the full developmental lifecycle for intellectual property and brands.
General Manager – Zacco IP Solutions
Joining the firm in 2013, Mats has overseen Zacco’s development of the successful IP360 and IP Services models, as well as the expansion of the Zacco brand into both the UK and India.
Business Development Responsible – Innovation Assets, Zacco
Tomas draws inspiration from a prominent patent career in-house at Sony and several years as an Examiner at the Swedish Patent Office-
Chief Executive Officer of the OpSec Group
Selva has overseen the evolution of OpSec into a comprehensive provider of intellectual property management and brand solutions, following a career in brand and identity security, and as a technology entrepreneur.
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