Reputation Counts for Patent Portfolios, Holders

Patent “Brands” are Serious Business –

IP pros and stakeholders share an embarrassing secret: both are generally in the dark when it comes to how patents generate value and impact performance.

Owners of patent portfolios are discovering that reputation pays — especially when it comes to making performance understandable. The right IP message enables diverse audiences, such as shareholders, customers and employees, to have a handle on results without the excess baggage associated with legal rights.

While companies can and do conduct their IP business in the dark with little consequence, results that are conveyed strategically over time can turn a solid reputation into an iconic brand.

“An Image is Worth 10,000 Words,” my latest the Intangible Investor column in IAM magazine, takes a looks the role of brand equity in patent performance.

Patent Holder Survey

A global 500 IT company recently retained my firm, Brody Berman Associates, to explore which patent holders are seen as the leading players — the leading IP brands.  The client wanted to learn on what the responding IP executives based their conclusions. The client also was interested to discover (anonymously) how it ranked. The findings of the relatively small sample, while hardly definitive, shed light on how IP opinions are formed.

Businesses like IBM, Microsoft, Qualcomm and Philips were more highly regarded by survey respondents not only because IP rights play a role in their success, but because they remind various audiences they do so.

The survey take-away: A lack of information about a company’s patent performance relative to its industry is at best confusing and at worst damaging. The professionals’ take on a business’ patents and strategy, while often accurate, tended to be based more on impression than fact.

What constitutes a good IP reputation? It is really no different from what goes into any positive business profile: clarity, credibility, consistency — words that are more easily spoken than embodied.

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For patent holders with good results (i.e. discernible IP “wins”), a modest level of transparency can pay impressive dividends.  Building a brand may not be for every patent holder, but it is for those with the patience and confidence to explain what they’ve achieved and why.

For more see the May-June the Intangible Investor.

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