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Edison in the Boardroom Revisited: How Leading Companies Realize Value from Their Intellectual Property, Second Edition by Patrick H. Sullivan, Suzanne S. Harrison

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Chapter 3

Level One: Defend Position

In the California Gold Rush days more than a century and a half ago, “forty-niners” learned that there was “gold in them thar’ hills,” but before breaking out a pan or pick axe, there were several things a miner had to do first. One of the most important of these was to stake and defend his claim. Today too, the first step in any venture is also defensive protection. This is the spirit of the Value Hierarchy’s Level One: Defend Position.

Defense of intellectual property (IP)—including patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets as well as ownership offered through various types of agreements—is a necessary and desirable activity for a business. For example, patents, the most tangible form of intellectual property, give inventors adequate time to innovate (apply and market an idea) before others do.

Much as a miner must stake a claim in the land containing gold, or a shareholder must hold a stock certificate, a patent holder must file a patent. Only then can the owner of an invention begin to realize its desired value. But that is only the first step. To continue the Gold Rush metaphor, these steps might be seen as panning (Level Two, the initial savings of managing costs), mining (Level Three, deeper value capture), processing (Level Four, synthesizing opportunities), and, finally, sculpting into new forms (Level Five, shaping the future). These five levels constitute an overall process for the management of intellectual property—a process ...

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