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Different types of IPR strategy: aggressive or defensive


December 20, 2019

A successful IPR strategy generates measurable value for the company. That is why it is good to know the different possibilities in strategy work. According to Kolster’s IPR Business Manager, the market situation of the industry and operating area are worth considering when choosing the right strategy type for your company. 

Helvar Oy, a Finnish manufacturer of intelligent lighting systems, is currently renewing its IPR strategy. Laura Sepponen, the company’s patent engineer, attended Kolster’s breakfast seminar to hear what Kolster’s experts have to say on the subject. 

“The seminar was a comprehensive presentation on what to consider when creating an IPR strategy.  It was good that there were practical examples as well”, Sepponen says. 

She praises the way to illustrate IPR strategy using a fourfold table presented by Kolster’s Senior IPR Business Manager. In the fourfold table, the company’s IPR strategy is evaluated according to whether it is active or passive and aggressive or defensive.  

“I am constantly examining the patents of our competitors and have a good sense of what is going on in the field. Analysis using the fourfold table will help me better communicate my observations to others in our organisation”, Sepponen says. 

Industry status affects the choice of strategy type 

In a defensive and passive strategy, the company merely protects its own product development and defends itself when necessary. A company operating in accordance with an active and aggressive strategy strives to make its competitors’ product development more difficult through its patenting and is more likely to initiate legal disputes. 

Kolster’s IPR Business Manager recommends that companies should pay attention to the competitive situation in the industry and operating area when designing an IPR strategy. 

“If there is no conflict in the industry and everyone seems satisfied with the situation, the company can opt for a passive and defensive strategy. An active and aggressive strategy type, on the other hand, is typical especially in emerging technology sectors, where many big players are striving to achieve industry leadership.” 

Successful IPR strategy generates measurable value

According to Kolster's Business IPR Manager, companies can use IPR to increase the value of their products or make money by licensing rights to others. A well-managed IPR portfolio has importance in company acquisitions or when applying for growth funding. 

“The best known way of generating value through IPR is to patent a product feature, prevent others from using that feature with a patent and thus gain a competitive advantage on the market”, Kolster's IPR Manager says. 

If product development results in technical solutions that the company cannot utilise itself, selling the intellectual property rights to the solution may be a good decision. The sale of IPR assets can take place alongside the company’s own operations or may even be its main business. 

“The IPR portfolio has importance in company acquisitions or when applying for growth funding. Trademarks and design rights can also be used to add value to the portfolio. These may help you stand out on the market”, Kolster's IPR Manager says. 

One third do not know how much the company has invested in IPR

Kolster and Taloustutkimus commissioned a survey on the status of Finnish companies’ IPR in the spring of 2019. 200 corporate decision-makers participated in the survey. Of the 100 largest companies in Finland, 26 were represented among the respondents. 

The majority of the corporate decision-makers estimated that there is room for improvement in their IPR expertise. One third considered their expertise to be good, one third was not sure, and one third considered their expertise to be poor. 

“According to the survey, just over a quarter of companies know for sure that their company has an IPR strategy. These companies considered their expertise to be good. Companies that did not have an IPR strategy, on the other hand, mostly considered their IPR expertise to be poor or were unaware of their current level”, Kolster's IPR Manager says. 

“There was a moving consensus among the survey respondents that a well-managed IPR portfolio increases the value of the company. Only 4% felt that Finnish companies invest too much in IPR.” 

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