The CLO strategist: Intellectual property has been saved
The CLO strategist: Intellectual property
A framework for CLOs to lead in developing an effective IP strategy
When intellectual property (IP) is largely a matter of searches, filings, negotiations, and enforcement actions, its world begins and ends in the legal department. Add strategy to the mix, and suddenly that world expands across the organization—and beyond. While managing IP in line with enterprise strategy is a multidimensional endeavor, it’s also an opportunity for CLOs to bring real impact to the organization.
Creating strategic alignment
Suppose your organization made an important discovery. If you kept the rights to the discovery, it could generate significant business revenue. If you released the rights, it could unleash broader, faster innovation.
A strong intellectual property strategy can guide decisions like this. At the same time, it creates an opportunity for the chief legal officer to:
- Lead in an area of commercial significance
- Wield greater influence within the organization
- Support the success of the enterprise
But what formula makes an IP strategy strong? The two key factors are alignment with the enterprise strategy and the CLO’s ability to build and leverage cross-functional relationships.
Strategic alignment is important because the way IP assets are managed can affect growth, asset value, and the company’s success in the marketplace. As business decisions shift in response to changing conditions, an effective IP strategy shifts in tandem to continue supporting commercial goals.
The five self-reinforcing choices
To develop an effective IP strategy aligned with the business strategy and focused on the strength of cross-functional relationships, consider the five self-reinforcing choices, which we’ve adapted from Lafley and Martin’s seminal guide:
Let’s look at IP strategy through the lens of these five choices:
When strategy goes awry
In our experience, when an IP strategy goes awry, the culprit can be found among three main sources of friction:
Results from pursuing innovations that are unrealistic or bear little relevance to the organization’s business.
Refers to a misalignment between those who are driving innovation and those who are managing it.
Occurs when the organization fails to send a clear message to the market about enforcing its intellectual property rights.
Making an impact on business outcomes
When IP is largely a matter of searches, filings, negotiations, and enforcement actions, its world begins and ends in the legal department. Add strategy to the mix, and suddenly the world expands across the organization and beyond. Managing IP in line with enterprise strategy—and in collaboration with other functions and the business units—is a multidimensional endeavor. It’s also an opportunity for CLOs to flex their business muscles and bring real impact to the success of the organization.