How Much Value is Your Company Losing? Implementing Effective Intellectual Property Management
Gunnar Wieboldt, Senior Corporate Counsel, Talecris Biotherapeutics, USA
Increasingly most of the value of a company today can be attributed to its intellectual property and other intangible assets. Without effective management of these assets, including governance committees, intellectual property audits, invention disclosure processes, and trade secret registries, much of this value can be overlooked, poorly leveraged, or even lost. Implementation of effective intellectual property management is not only good business, but increasingly a requirement for accurate financial reporting and compliance.
Three years ago I was hired as in-house counsel responsible for intellectual property for a recently spun-off division of Bayer Healthcare. The new company, Talecris Biotherapeutics, was respectably large and established with over 2,000 employees and one billion dollars (USD) worth of world-wide biopharmaceutical sales. However, in many respects it was a start-up forced to create from scratch functions historically handled by its former parent company. This deficiency was most notably true with respect to intellectual property management. I became aware of our lack of intellectual property infrastructure when, soon after joining Talecris, I was handed a list of twenty patents whose maintenance fees were coming due and asked 'which were worth the expense?' That an attorney alone would be given this task underscored the need to make some changes. What followed from this request was a series of initiatives that have greatly increased awareness of intellectual property throughout the organization (including a 300% increase in invention disclosures), improved the decision making surrounding intellectual property resources and assets, and made it easier for the chief financial officer and the chief executive to stand by their public disclosures of company value.
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