Digitalization is driving in many successful companies an organizational change how innovation and IP work is done. This often means that a centralized innovation lab is installed. This innovation lab is a central unit with the purpose to drive especially radical and disruptive innovation in the company. Here, the creative employees can work together with potential customers and openly exchange and create new ideas for example with the methods of design thinking. Bank of America now tried the opposite approach and organized its innovation decentralized. They proofed with the recent company record in filed and granted patents that a decentralized approach can also lead to great results.

IP strategy report, Technology disruption through a patent lens, 2018, CIPHER

Bank of America is an American Bank and was considered the largest bank worldwide in 2012. They are also known to be extremely innovative and active in creating a huge forward-looking patent portfolio with over 2500 granted and pending patent families in 2017. This gives them a leading position in many fields in fintech. They filed patents in fields such as security and privacy, online and mobile banking, AI, and machine learning and blockchain. So, in the field of blockchain Bank of America already owned 28 patents and filed 50 more in 2018, which makes them the worldwide leader in their industry.

But being the company filing the most patents without having a positive impact of the clients is not in the interest of Bank of America. Instead, they employ a specific focus on providing solutions to their customers. This focus on real customers and their needs led to the establishment of the decentralized innovation approach. There, every employee who comes into contact with the client should bring in their ideas into the innovation process of the company. Nevertheless, the ideas have to be necessarily aligned with the overall business strategy and the IP strategy of Bank of America.

So, independently of the used approach to organize innovation in a company, innovation always must focus on the customer. It is about the fulfilling of customer needs and granting of customer benefits. This also means that all innovation process elements have to be supported with IP, which makes the final customer benefit exclusive. Those needs of IP have to defined in an appropriate IP strategy during the whole innovation process.

Successful IP management has to be integrated already in the idea creation stage. Here, it serves the purpose to identify the attractive spots in the market, where customer benefits can be created and customer needs can be fulfilled. The integration of IP in this part of the innovation process is vital to ensure, that the finally developed products can be adequately protected by IP. When the integration of IP happens to late, the most profitable market positions and customer benefits might be made already exclusive by the competitors.

How to integrate IP into the innovation process can be learned in the Certified University course on IP management at CEIPI. Here is a sample video from its 6th module:

More information


Follow us on: