Section

  • Introduction to the course

    Innovation is the commercialisation of an invention. Decisions on which technologies should be developed and which IP assets be created must be carefully evaluated. IP needs to be protected, but protection costs money, so it must be assessed within the overall context of innovation potential and enforceability. In a global market, the life-cycle management of patents on a worldwide basis is key to making best use of the patent system to gain and maintain competitive advantage.

    In this course, you find five modules comprising each readings explaining the content, a recorded lecture and a quiz. Some modules also contain additional ressources complementing the training.

    You will have the possibility of obtaining a certificate, after having passed the quizzes with a total rate of at least 70%. You can repeat the quizzes as often as you want.

    If you want to take a quiz, you need to you register in the European Patent Academy’s e-learning centre with your account and enrol to this course.

    Please also read the curriculum of the whole series.

    • Innovation processes and systems

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      Main purposes of this module:

      • to connect the innovation environment to a dedicated patent-based innovation system methodology by describing the innovation process itself 
      • to provide an overview of a number of innovation styles ranging from structured brainstorming to open innovation  
      • to explain the role of IP in the innovation process 
      • to exemplify open innovation to clarify the benefit of a more broad-ranging perspective 

      Topics to be covered:

      i.    Capturing IP in the innovation process 
      ii.   Different approaches - project management: Stage gate or Agile approach
      iii.  Open vs. closed innovation
      iv.  IP and the innovation process
      v.   IP and open innovation
      vi.  IP sub-processes - Invention handling process; IP licensing process; IP risk management process

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      It is important that the innovation process is set up correctly so that IP can be successfully captured to the financial benefit of the firm/HTB whilst incentivising inventors (internal and external) appropriately in full compliance with the law.

      Two main project management techniques are discussed. A stage-gate approach divides the process into distinct phases with decision points at each stage to review IP-specific tasks performed in the previous process phase in a disciplined manner. An agile approach, which stems from software development, allows adaptive planning and evolutionary development rather than focusing on delivering perfect finished products. Agile methods require more effort to integrate IP-related activities.

      With the increasing complexity of technology, collaboration between technology partners is needed, complementing each other's competencies, with a shift from traditional, closed innovation within one firm to open, collaborative innovation between different partners. Managing the innovation process includes taking the right IP decisions at the right innovation stages associated with different uncertainties; at each stage the role of IP needs to be assessed. Various IP issues that need to be addressed when engaging in open innovation are reviewed in particular (IP environment, maturity, eco system, its role).

      Sub-processes: the invention-handling process gives some guidance on how to handle the process of disclosing an idea/invention within a company or organisation. Different aspects of licensing agreements are briefly highlighted (see series 3, module 2 for an in depth discussion). IP risk management requires the systematic identification of IP-related risks and an approach to handling and monitoring them.

    • Economic aspects of innovation

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      Main purposes of this module:

      • to explain how a company's competitive position can be affected by its innovation strength and look at financial aspects 
      • to highlight the economic importance of IP-based industries 

      Topics to be covered:

      i.    Analysis of market and technology positions 
      ii.   Economic relevance 
      iii.  Venture capitalists & intellectual property 
      iv.  Aligning money, fees, government support 
      v.   How important are IP based industries in the economy? 

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      Various ways to analyse the market or the product/technology position as well as technology/innovation portfolios in view of economic parameters are presented. 

      While it is obvious that IPRs have economic relevance as a commercial tool, the IP situation of a company is also an important issue for venture capitalists when making investment decisions at a time with a high degree of uncertainty. 

      Once the innovation focus of a company is determined, developing the innovation typically requires significant funding (including public funding), budget planning and allocation. 

      Several studies have shown that IP-intensive industries contribute significantly to the benefit of (national) economies.

    • Evaluation dimensions

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      Main purposes of this module:

      • to provide an introduction to and overview of the different valuation approaches, with an emphasis on the income approach 
      • to exemplify patent valuation on the basis of economic, technological and legal perspectives 

      Topics to be covered:

      i.    The legal perspective 
      ii.   The technology perspective 
      iii.   The market perspective 

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      A key requirement for valuable enabling technologies of products/solutions is the ownership of such technologies, which is gained through appropriate patents or utility models. The value of a technology is based on various aspects: the patentability of the technology, the risk of infringement, its traceability and its successful enforcement, and valuable licensing agreements based thereon.

      From the technology perspective, the value depends to a large extent on the feasibility, risk/probability of success and development time. Other evaluation criteria are the potential gain of know-how through the idea and the advantage over existing technologies. 

      The market perspective looks at potential improvements in the competitive situation from the point of view of the customer, the competitor and the market. Special attention is given to disruptive innovation. In addition, complementary factors to generate income need to be taken into consideration.

    • Critical reflection on the invention

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      Main purposes of this module:

      • to provide an overview of how inventions which are worthwhile to protect from a business perspective can be analysed to determine whether they are also protectable from a legal perspective
      • to provide support in defining the technical problem, searching the invention and determining whether it is in line with the business strategy 

      Topics to be covered:

      i.    Identifying the best inventions
      ii.   Defining the technical problem 
      iii.  Searching the invention - analysing prior art 
      iv.  Reviewing whether it is still in line with the strategic business purpose 


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      Key requirements for patentable inventions are novelty and inventive step (non-obviousness). To obtain legally strong patents it is therefore advantageous to have a good understanding of the prior art before starting to draft the patent application. 

      Different databases, search tools and search strategies can provide complementary information on the prior art. 

      Prior art documents which relate to the same or a similar problem as the invention should be carefully analysed. Once the prior art has been established, a reassessment of the strategic relevance of the invention needs to be undertaken. 

    • Patent filing tactics and managing the patent life cycle

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      Main purposes of this module:

      • to explain different patent drafting and filing tactics to cover the strategic markets of the innovator
      • to explain how continuations and divisional applications can be used to tweak the scope of the patent claims during prosecution
      • to evaluate the use of outside counsel vs. in-house counsel 

      Topics to be covered:

      i.    Drafting applications - geographic reach: national, regional or international? 
      ii.   Filing strategies - continuations and divisionals 
      iii.  Using outside counsel vs. in-house counsel

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      Various tactics are available to a company to protect an invention with international scope through the use of different filing options for different patents. The different requirements for national, regional and international filings are discussed.

      Continuations and CIPs in the US and divisionals before the EPO can be used to tweak claims and keep applications alive in order to be able to adjust them to competitor solutions which have entered the market while the application is still pending.

      Depending on circumstances, the use of either outside or in-house counsel can be advantageous.