In Part 2 of our series on DIN 77006, we looked at the benefits and advantages of DIN 77006. This offers small and medium-sized companies in particular a good aid to orient themselves on the market and get started. But what is actually the starting position of a company that leads to take a closer look at DIN 77006? And what are the benefits for the company?
This is how companies do it
Basically, companies aim to protect their assets such as inventions, know-how, trade secrets, etc. as broadly, consistently and for as long as possible. The time and financial resources required for this may vary from company to company, but de facto all of them – regardless of their size and positioning – should or rather must face up to a possible “theft of know-how” by third parties. In Germany, for example, the principle of freedom to copy applies, which means that anything that is not protected can be imitated. Conversely, companies, regardless of size and orientation, must also ensure that they do not infringe any third-party property rights, for example, during the product launch – in particular, this can be avoided through timely freedom-to-operate analyses. As a result of the digital transformation, however, the latter analyses for finding third-party property rights are becoming increasingly complex and labor-, time- and cost-intensive.
What companies need
To counter the risk of insufficient and thus incomplete third-party rights analyses, companies should rethink their established processes in this regard, expand them and adapt them to the current situation. Advantageously, much of what is needed for the introduction, maintenance and improvement of an active and thus optimized IPM according to DIN 77006 will already be available in your company; be it highly qualified, experienced employees, already established individual IP processes such as regular portfolio reviews, jour fixe, patent monitoring, a maintained and reliable patent management software or a secure server environment for an electronic IPM drive.
In addition, it is more than likely that companies above a certain size have already established existing management systems, such as DIN EN ISO 9001 (General Quality Management Standard); or in the field of medtech companies already produce professional and appropriate medical devices according to DIN EN ISO 13485 (Medical Device Standard). The charming thing about this is that DIN EN ISO 9001, as the “mother” of all quality management standards, provides the basic structure and content, which is merely adapted to the specific quality standards DIN 77006 and DIN EN ISO 13485. Which advantages this brings with it in concrete terms, and makes the effort for the introduction of an active IPM far more efficient, can be taken from a series of articles on the connection between “9001” and “77006” which will soon be published.
The advantages for companies
The introduction of DIN 77006 in your company also offers the advantages of creating a framework for ensuring the quality and continuous improvement of IPM. It serves to identify and implement defensible competitive advantages and thus to optimize the return on innovation services as well as to implement a cross-departmental, customer and competition-oriented IP strategy. This enables to minimize risks relating to IP infringements and to save associated costs or at least noticeably reduce them.
In addition, its introduction creates more clarity in the company, sharpens the documentation of relevant IP processes, increases awareness of IP, establishes the management as the linchpin of the IP strategy and promotes a sense of unity.
Another decisive advantage is that DIN 77006 is a neutral document that specifies what needs to be done and appears to be a consensus for IP departments. How its requirements are implemented in concrete terms is, in turn, up to the company itself.
Implementing DIN 77006 in your own company
But what does a company actually need in order to be able to introduce a new active IPM in a targeted manner? First of all, it needs to be aware of the need to think about IP strategies holistically, from the top down, i.e. from the top management to the fine ramifications of the IP department, marketing, the legal department, but also down to the young researchers or doctoral candidates in the R&D areas. Holistic includes active action and communication regarding intellectual property across all areas and hierarchies, but also active documentation/evaluation of the IP processes required by DIN 77006. IP awareness must be created at an early stage and at all levels. Already during the “onboarding” of new employees, the internal IP department can be briefly introduced and the basics of a new and inventive patent-worthy invention can be explained.
Furthermore, IP should be understood and lived as a long-term and central business asset, especially with a focus on digital transformation. This also results in the establishment of awareness to proactively advance one’s own digitalization projects within the company in order to create one’s own use cases and thus become more relevant again for the current competition.
A new IPM to complement existing systems
It is important to mention: The new IPM is not intended to replace existing systems, but to supplement, better document and network them – this, among other things, by implementing various PDCA cycles in the IP processes, but at the same time in line with the company structure. According to our experience so far, the implementation of an active IPM achieves clearer structures for IP processes and their responsibilities. At the same time, a uniform and documented approach with “failsafe” mechanisms is established for IP processes. In addition, due diligence and organizational obligations are covered in a more legally secure manner. In summary, the introduction of active IPM in accordance with DIN 77006 leads to the establishment of future-proof, systematic, prudent IPM between management and the departments involved. Such a systematic IPM helps to identify risks (at least earlier) and to seize opportunities (at least earlier).
DIN 77006 merely describes the framework for implementing holistic IPM requirements. It also only prescribes that something must be done (not necessarily everything), but not exactly how it must be done. In other words, the standard allows a degree of freedom in its application in order to “tailor” its requirements to the company, namely those that are actually relevant to the company. However, if requirements apply to a company, these must also be mapped appropriately in order to be able to obtain a declaration of conformity with DIN 77006.
About the blogpost author:
Dr. Joern Plettig (Site Director; Patent Attorney; European Trademark & Design Attorney) gained insightful professional experience in a globally operating medical technology company as well as in two international IP law firms over the last decade. Thus, Dr. Plettig understands the “needs” of IP-oriented companies, especially from the pharmaceutical, chemical, biotechnology and medical device industries.
From a technical point of view, he holds a PhD in biology with a focus on molecular biology/genetics, cell biology and human biology. However, his work as a patent attorney has expanded his fields of activity many times; for example, to the areas of mechanics and product design as well.
Dr. Plettig completed his publication doctorate on innovative therapies for burn patients at the Charité in Berlin. Before that, Dr. Plettig studied biology at the Freie Universitaet of Berlin. During his academic training, he held several scientific appointments at the University of Pittsburgh, USA.
Since March 2021, Dr. Plettig is responsible for the office management of ETL IP Berlin, a sub-office of ETL IP as a parent company. His areas of expertise lie amongst others in the fields of German, European and International patent, trademark and design law — also including employee invention law. The technical focus of Dr. Plettig is reflected by regenerative medicine; stem cells; diagnostic markers; drug compounds/formulations; mRNA-based compounds; antibodies; vascular intervention; stents; heart valves; and catheter technology.