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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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Is My Company on the Pyramid?

Some companies tell us they are confused about whether they are on the Edison pyramid. Eric Oliver, VP, Legal Affairs of Sezmi and a long-time ICM Gathering member suggests that there are five questions such companies should ask:

1. Does your company have a written description of the intellectual property function and/or a defined person with a designated responsibility for intellectual property?

2. Is there a defined IP strategy or executive agreement as to the strategy? This may take the form of a few short points at a very high level, defining why your company is getting patents, copyrights, or trademarks. What do you plan to do with the IP you create?

3. Does your company have its own, independent, inventory of its IP? “Independent” means that your company has its own inventory, and doesn’t rely solely on the inventory that may be housed with any IP law firm(s) you have retained.

4. Is there a defined process for deciding how many and which patents to file?

5. Is the IP function explicitly budgeted? In other words, is the IP function being held to the same fiscal management standards as other parts of the organization? Does it have to justify what it spends? Does it have to participate in the budget process, or does it simply access a pool of money as needs arise?

A “no” answer to even one of these questions, believes Oliver, demonstrates the company is not sufficiently IP-aware to categorize itself at even Level One of the Edison Pyramid.

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