Published On: May 8th, 2019Categories: Intellectual Property, IP Management, Patent Applications, Patents

Are you worried that in spite of all your recent investments in systems and processes, not all of the innovation in your organization makes it into the IP management lifecycle in a timely manner? If yes, keep reading – we have some thoughts around how to improve your invention.

Most processes and systems are designed in a manner that assumes that the invention management process starts with the filling out of a structured and very detailed disclosure form. You are expected to describe the parts that make up your invention, how the parts work together, what makes your invention different from others, how else the invention might work, technology areas, drawings, and so on. The problem with starting here is if you are only at the point of having an idea, this very structured form might be too overwhelming to begin with. You also do not want to make a mistake while filling out an invention disclosure, which could lead to not obtaining the desired patent. 

A common solution deployed at many organizations is invention harvesting workshops where in-house attorneys hold dedicated sessions to harvest ideas and work with inventors to create the required information for a complete disclosure submission. While this alleviates the problem of simplifying the submission process for inventors, this does not create a sustainable long term solution that allows for the curation of ideas from their very inception.

So, what’s the solution? A seamless process and platform that pulls ideas from multiple, disparate sources within your organization in an easy to use, unstructured format; harnesses the collective intelligence of the organization through a collaborative platform where ideas can be built on by the community at large and moulded into inventions that can then be taken through the more formal IP management processes.

How do you get there?

Start with an IPMS

Instead of diving head first into the invention disclosure form, we’re seeing a new trend emerge. IP management systems (IPMS) have become more sophisticated, and are more focused on ensuring all information has been captured prior to submitting an invention disclosure. IP management systems, such as symphony® by MaxVal, make things easier for inventors by capturing ideas, gathering art from appropriate teams, and much more. After the idea has been captured in its entirety, you should be ready for the invention disclosure step.

Timing and Collaboration

When and how do you capture an idea? As soon as possible. It doesn’t matter how well defined or elaborate the idea is – the emphasis is on capturing the idea and then using the collective intelligence of the organization to develop the idea.

Who should be involved in the process? You want to spread the net as wide as possible. Some of the best ideas come from places you’d least expect. Too many organizations have a very narrow focus for sources of inventions. And even if the core inventions still come from the engineering/R&D teams, there are significant gains from allowing the larger organizational community to collaborate, review and even just talk about these ideas.

Let’s say you have a thought for a new product. Ideally, you would want to discuss your idea early on with colleagues from product, sales, and marketing teams to gather their thoughts and feedback. These teams can play a significant role in developing, reviewing and rating the product idea. They could provide improvement suggestions, competitive information, customer insights and provide very useful review comments.

Some new IP management systems are aiming to create a way to offer collaborative internal conversation around your idea. This allows other team members, such as the ones mentioned above, to build off of the idea you provided, even if your idea is simply a few sentences. This flexible, collaborative format, compared to a structured one, could turn your product idea into much more than what you had originally imagined.

What do we suggest?

MaxVal has the ability to integrate with IP management systems that offer flexible formats, and our own IPMS, Symphony, is designed for invention capture, management, and collaboration. In addition, symphony® provides robust integration capabilities that allow your IPMS to work seamlessly with any idea management tool or platform that you may be using. Be sure to stay tuned for more capabilities that will be released in Symphony throughout this year, as we are constantly making new developments within the software.

To have a deeper conversation around life before an invention disclosure, or to learn more about the capabilities that Symphony offers, please contact [email protected].

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