CIPOs – Top 5 Attributes

By Lee Caffin

Whether a CIPO, IP Business Manager, Chief IP Officer or other title, what are the key attributes that individual needs to be successful when tasked with developing and implementing a coordinated company IP strategy. Here’s my personal top 5 in order:

1) Senior company individual with authority to implement change

This is top of my list. CEOs and their direct staff are usually well-aware of the importance of IP and how its strategic use can be effective in supporting and invigorating business goals. Yet the task of managing the IP strategy development and implementation is sometimes left to individuals who are relatively junior. That can lead to a host of potential issues, including (1) lack of awareness by the individual of the company direction and goals (2) lack of authority to make changes (3) lack of support for change within the organization (4) inability to muster the teams to develop and implement strategies.

2) Negotiation skills

I have focused on negotiation skills rather than the broader communication skills because so much of the implementation phase of an IP strategy involves demonstrating the value add, whether it’s making a case of a new IP management system, funding for a competitor landscape review, justifying filing patents in additional countries, taking up the valuable time of senior individuals from various parts of the organization, implementing a new IP incentive program etc.

3) Ability to utilize the collective skills and knowledge of the organization and its individuals to maximum effect

As a general rule I avoid using analogies on the basis that since I’m not that smart, if I can understand a concept why should I assume the audience will have a problem and therefore turn to an analogy to simplify. However, I’m going to break my rule here. I have recently had the misfortune to incorrectly wire a set of batteries for a golf cart leading to a complete meltdown of the cart computer; I did say I wasn’t that smart! But applying this to an organization, assume that each department is a battery. The individual departments can work very effectively in isolation powering up a host of activities and achievements for the good of the company. In an IP strategy setting, a challenge faced by the IP strategist is to bring some or all of these departments (batteries) together and make appropriate connections. The hope and expectation is that the collective brainpower of the departments, or at least key individuals from within, will be brought to bear to develop a more effective, cohesive IP strategy and the groups will work harmoniously with the IP strategist to implement strategies and tactics to defined goals and timelines. In a golf cart setting, the IP strategist knows that using only one battery will be insufficient to power the cart; he/she needs to connect numerous batteries correctly to feed sufficient electricity to the drive train to move the cart forward. Likewise, the IP strategist needs to be able to effectively bring teams together, and provide the environment for creative interactions within the construct of IP strategy development and implementation. This type of meeting and project management is a core skill the IP strategist needs to have or acquire in my view.

4) Driven to achieve results

It’s incredibly important not only to have a great IP strategy in plan, but also to execute according to appropriate timelines with interim goals to be achieved along the way. The IP strategist can’t be a theorist. He/she must be fully motivated to implement according to the agreed plan and cajole and persuade others to do their bit.

5) Legally trained

Some of you may disagree with my fifth and final attribute. But I really can’t see how one can effectively develop and implement an IP strategy without a good understanding of global IP systems and having some formalized legal training. Not to say that to be a good IP strategist one must be an IP Attorney. With appropriate experience and training, individuals who are not Attorneys can be very effective IP strategist, and indeed may be more effective than some Attorneys, who have a tendency to over-analyze, can miss big picture concepts and business strategies, and may not be very good at all at one of more or 2) to 4) above.

So that’s my top 5. It would be great to hear yours. We might consolidate and publish a collective list if there are sufficient replies and interest.

Image credit: this is my scream name

Comments

  1. Ventsi Stoilov says:

    I agree with those attributes .
    I
    would add to them and necessary skills for planning and forecasting
    future situations regarding intellectual property in one company
    and beyond. It is an important  condition for successful implementation of IP strategy. Not every manager has this ability to plan and guessed IP future of their company. This skill requires not only legal expertise but also a variety of business knowledge.
    Another attribute for me is the concentration and serenity in making strategic decisions. Usually, such decisions can affect the overall development of a company years ahead. At such times, concentration on core issue and tranquility in making of  decisions  are extremely important.

    Have a nice day 

    Ventsi Stoilov

    • Thanks Ventsi; I completely agree.

      Planning for and forecasting future IP scenarios is a real art. Gathering and analysis as much market and competitive intelligence as possible is important and is often a failing within organizations. We also do a fair amount of “war gaming” and “white space” work which we have found has helped clients effectively plan for the future.

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