Some technology innovation businesses focus on intellectual property (IP) generation and are well aware of the threats from the outset.  However, despite intangible assets now usually making up the major part of most company valuations, many businesses still deal with these issues reactively when they get thrust into focus by events, rather than proactively, and end up with an outcome which is both less positive and more expensive.
Why is this?  Well, to be honest the issue is that it is not always easy to get IP strategy right, and particularly for the appropriate cost and level.  Some attempts get bogged down in the detail and a lot of money is spent looking through the weeds without finding a clear path,  while some businesses engage in consultancy which produces a nice sounding ‘strategy’ document that looks impressive in the annual report or at the Board but is painfully short on implementable details or specific value-adding output.  Having experienced either in the past, or it simply not being clear what value is to be gained, often sensible (and perhaps cynical) business leaders under time and budget pressures understandably press ahead with the more tangible product development issues.
Let’s consider some typical scenarios involving a ‘moderately innovative’ company which doesn’t seek to be a cutting-edge disruptive player but nonetheless is routinely refining, updating and improving its products and adapting to expected customer requirements.
Perhaps the company considers it is simply adding automation, integration, connectivity and convenience features that users generally want, or it is improving manufacturing processes or product physical qualities. Occasionally, changes will be made which percolate up as being sufficiently distinctive that the company considers applying for a patent.  At this point, it may transpire that for various reasons there are likely to be serious difficulties protecting what was thought to be interesting,

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