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IP Strategy is a matter for the Board


The directors of Finnish companies have distinguished themselves in improving operations. This shows in the flow of positive results in the published interim reports. Growth derived from new products or new markets is, however, seldom in the news.

In generating new growth, productization of innovations and opening up new markets are at the core. Strategically, it is a matter of the willingness and readiness of a company to commercially maximize innovations. The board of the company has the keys to place this willingness and the objectives supporting it into the centre of the operations.

This is commonplace in international large-scale companies, and Nokia, among others, is an excellent example in that they have shown the commercial role of their patent portfolio in the form of turnover acquired from patents. In a majority of listed companies and widely in SMEs, the situation is far from this.

An increasing portion of the value of a company comes from various intellectual property rights. Understanding how to utilize them and how to actively manage them is a task for the board of the company. This should be considered when deciding on the make-up of the board – do the board members have experience in increasing the patent portfolio and in utilizing it by licensing, for instance, and in securing freedom to operate while observing the competition in the markets where the company wants to expand.

In terms of trademarks, the strategic choices in naming product families are a significant factor when preparing for company acquisitions, for example. Trademarks and brands are an essential part of the value of the company, and a good board monitors their development more than just in the financial statement.

What then is the real value of a patent portfolio? There is a wide-ranging consensus on that a central factor in value-forming comes from how the company utilizes the patent portfolio and brands – in other words, from the context which the board of the company defines and the management implements for the purpose of utilizing intellectual property rights.

Is this matter on the agenda of your board?

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Timo Helosuo
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