I have the pleasure to review the latest book from Gassmann, Oliver; Bader, Martin A. and Thompson, Mark James – “Patent Management: Protecting Intellectual Property and Innovation, a comprehensive book that adds to the importance of patent management for corporate competitiveness.

This book, which is also part of the Springer series “Management for Professionals”, follows on the authors’ previous German version “Patent Management” (now in its fourth edition) but also contributes further with lots of illustrative examples, cases and anecdotes that reflect the latest international dimension of patents, providing valuable managerial insights from a business and management perspective.

The book starts by providing the reader with a comprehensive introduction about Intellectual Property Rights and the importance of protecting innovation via legal protection strategies (patents, designs, trademarks and copyrights) and also de facto protection strategies (eg. lead-time advantage, trade secrets, time-to-market strategies) to enable a company to achieve sustainable value creation. The authors rightly emphasize that companies need look beyond creating high-performance R&D organisations but that the protection and management of the outcomes of such innovation processes with Intellectual Property (IP) has to become now a central part of their innovation management. The authors give also an analysis of the ways in which companies can systemize and implement patent management using five categories: strategy, processes, methods, structure and company culture.

In Chapter 2 the authors discuss how Intellectual Property makes it possible to influence to a great extent the company’s own corporate strategic position and thus also influence the external market environment. Important questions when reformulating a patent strategy within the corporate strategy would include “What is the core of the business model of the company and what is it that creates for us a comparative competitive advantage?” and “How should the company create and capture value to its customers by means of a patent strategy?”. This chapter is built along three lines. First, the authors highlight that depending on their orientation and aggressiveness, patent strategies can be subdivided into offensive and defensive strategies. They then focus on the three core dimensions of patent strategies aimed at the protection of innovations: (i) ensuring Freedom-to-Operate (FTO),(ii) strengthening their competitive differentiation by applying one’s own Intellectual Property, and (iii) the commercialization of Intellectual Property via the generation of licensing revenues. Complementary assets strategies, conclude the authors, such as secrecy, lead-time and design complexity, are some of the complementary actions that companies can appropriate from too apart from patenting.

Chapter 3 focuses on the evaluation and valuation of patents. The authors first explain that evaluation of patents refers to the business logic and strategic impact of the patent while the term valuation is referred to the monetary value assigned to a patent. The authors highlight that a qualitative evaluation of a patent therefore supports patenting decisions, allows for portfolio comparisons to be made and supports patent management decisions. Then the authors focus on the topic of patent valuation highlighting that the determination of a patent’s value is complex because the term “value” does not have a clear definition and can be subjective in the sense of “meaning”, “price” and “cost”. After highlighting the different reasons for a monetary patent valuation, the authors explain in substantive detail the three main valuation models namely: (i) Cost-oriented procedures; (ii) Market-oriented procedures and (iii) Income-oriented procedures. The last part of the chapter looks at how to manage the patent portfolio. The authors explain how the “St. Gallen Patent Portfolio Management Model” can be applied to strategically manage patents applying the five phases (explore, build, secure, optimize and consolidate).

In Chapter 4, the authors highlight the other side of patents, that of generating value through proactive commercialisation rather than the basic use of patents of building up a static legal defense against imitators. While “patenting to protect” typically does not change the core business model of a company, the authors find that commercialisation has broad implications that often touch on the core of the business model. Patents have traditional been embedded in a product that a company sells but increasingly complex supply chains, new types of business models and a competitive landscape have now led to many different ways of exploiting a patent commercially. This chapter continues to clearly explain in detail (together with a series of case studies) the different forms of patent commercialization techniques that give any IP manager or consultant a toolbox to exploit a patent namely via licensing, cross-licensing, sale, strategic alliances, joint ventures, patent to access to finance, and litigation for value.

Chapter 5, explains how companies should organize patent management internally within. Successful management of the patent department is highly dependent on its interactions within the entire company. The authors meticulously describe the tasks of the patent department as part of its role of creating internal customer relationships that have to be maintained by the patent department at the executive level, operative level and at project level. The next section of the chapter emphasizes the formulation of the patent strategy and how it can be coordinated internally within the respective company stakeholders in order to ensure an alignment between the patent department and the other business units such as via the creation of strategic patent committees. The last part of this chapter looks at how companies can enable internally an “inventor culture” for the ability of a company’s employees to develop ideas and translate them into marketable technologies and products.

In Chapter 6, the authors discuss how the effect of patents is strongly sector-dependent. This chapter can be schematically divided into thirteen parts, giving an overview of the following industry sectors and highlighting case study examples on specific aspects of patent management. The industries covered by the authors include pharma, chemistry, crop science, life sciences, consumer goods, machinery, electrics and electronics, automotive, ICT, computer science, financial services and fintech, transport and logistics and finally, start-ups and SMEs. The authors conclude each industry description and case study with practical IP management take-away information.

Chapter 7, is central to the latest development of technology whereby inventions have become less physical and more complex in so far also to starting to exert pressure against the legal framework of the patent system conceived ages ago. The authors describe that such developments are one of the faster-growing fields as well as being amongst the top ten technical fields in the number of patent applications being filed with the European Patent Organisation mainly Biotechnology, Nanotechnology, Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things, Software and Business Models, Artificial Intelligence-based Business Models, and Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies. The authors look also in great detail as to how the patenting practice works of the European Patent Office towards the examination of each of such new technical fields, providing valuable insights for inventors of such fields to meet the requirements for patentability.

In Chapter 8, the last chapter of the book, the authors provide brief useful information and tips for the attention of any patent and IP practitioner covering generic latest information on patent growth worldwide, patent classification, the structure of a patent, brief comparison of patent legislation, and concluding the chapter with information on the major global IP patent issues such as the Unitary Patent and the Unified Patent Court.

All in all, this latest book by Gassmann, Oliver, Bader, Martin A., and Thompson, Mark James is a must read for any IP enthusiast, starting from the university student discovering the world of patents to an IP specialist or consultant interested in creating value through innovation using intellectual property within a company or institution. It comes fully packed with the same authors’ consulting and leadership experience in the innovation management and intellectual property making it a comprehensive practical guide of what patent and IP management is together with the latest real-world case examples and explanations, in a very readable engaging book!


About the blogpost author:

Ivan Gauci is an intellectual property expert, a marketing strategist and a people person with a diverse commercial experience spanning both the private and governmental sectors. Until recently he held the position of Assistant Director at the national IP Office of Malta and is currently seconded as a national expert at the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) where he is directly involved in the design and implementation of the EUIPO SME Programme 2020-25. Being a positive disruptor and a generalist, Ivan is active in various intellectual property specialisms particularly in strategic IP management and IP education for small-medium enterprises (SMEs).