Why IP and R&D Departments can no longer work Independently

There are numerous reports and plenty of anecdotal evidence from executives admitting that their organization has spent money on R&D, only to find that the developed product was already protected by a competitor’s patent. It leads to a huge waste of resource and can curtail the future scope of product development. On the other hand, setting up an organizational structure in which R&D and IP teams can collaborate effectively will save a company a significant amount of money and lead to overall better outcomes. 

Overcoming the barriers

As with so many of those activities that involve cross-departmental collaboration, one of the biggest problems is that departments simply talk in different languages.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, this segregation can often mean that the maximum value of intellectual property (IP) assets might not be realized.

However, there are approaches that will help facilitate communication between these departments. For example, using an IP landscape to review the organization’s IP portfolio (and where it sits in relation to that of its competitors) brings mutual benefits to both the IP and R&D teams. This type of visual representation cuts through the obscurity of patent documentation to enable R&D to understand the competitive positioning of their product roadmap. Meanwhile, IP experts can evaluate how R&D’s future product or solution proposals translate into opportunities or risk - and then provide them more guidance.   

Accelerating innovation

As the speed of innovation increases, the co-operative behaviour that already exists between R&D and IP teams needs to be built upon further to transform the relationship into one of very close collaboration. In order to achieve this, it is worth bearing in mind six key points:  

  • Transparency and open communication is vital
  • Cross-functional partnerships should be heavily encouraged
  • Collaborative behaviour should be rewarded
  • The stigma against patent reading must be eliminated from R&D engineers
  • Investment in collaborative tools is a gainful investment
  • The importance of understanding IP landscapes (and where the company sits in relation to other competitors within the landscape) is paramount

Every company has a different organizational structure and therefore there is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach. However, regardless of structure, the secret to success is collaboration.

At PatSnap, we have been taking an in-depth look at how greater value can be unlocked from patent portfolios. To find out our other findings, be sure to download our free eBook.