Trends with: Graeme McCallum

Graeme McCallum is a Patent Attorney and Partner at Potter Clarkson. Graeme’s expertise includes developing and implementing IP strategies, including patents, trade marks and designs, to align with business strategy and maximise portfolio value. Graeme frequently works with multiple stakeholders to optimise the IP strategy, both at a portfolio level and on individual cases to maximise value with a pragmatic and cost-effective approach.

What trends do you see for the spring within your line of business?

It seems that we have finally reached a point where even the earliest stage businesses understand the power of intellectual property (IP).

Scale-ups and start-ups can see how a structured approach to IP allows them to enter their target markets more safely and makes them more attractive to potential investors.

More advanced businesses understand how their IP can increase their value, multiply revenue streams, and even make them a more attractive acquisition prospect if that is their ultimate aim.

Larger corporates are using their patent portfolios to underpin their strategic direction as well as maximising shareholder value and investability.

However, despite businesses at every stage of their lives taking a more sophisticated approach to IP, we have noticed there is one area of IP that businesses do not fully understand how to maximise value.  Their digital IP.

Today every business is a digital business as AI and IoT becomes ubiquitous.

From your perspective, what are the greatest challenges right now?

Some of the greatest challenges facing businesses now are how they manage their digital innovations. There is a constant conflict between obtaining potentially valuable protection through patents for the innovation and disclosing the innovation to their competitors.

Frequently, these digital innovations are very difficult or impossible to detect, making it extremely difficult or impossible to assess whether a competitor is implementing the innovation.

Careful thought needs to be given to what is the best mechanism to protect digital innovations. Importantly, if patent protection is selected, how best to extract maximum value from the protection by ensuring that the patent adds value to the business and that the invention that is protected by the patent is actually detectable.

Trade secrets, designs and trade marks can also all provide valuable protection for digital innovations, provided that they are used correctly and their limitations properly understood.

While not necessarily easy, protection of digital IP can add significantly to the value of a business, provided that careful thought is given to the protection and to ensuring that it supports and aligns with the company’s business strategy.

And, opportunities?

The ultimate benefit of protecting your digital IP is that it will maximise the value of your business by leveraging assets you may not have otherwise.  The opportunities your investment in digital IP create are exactly the same as those you’ve already realised by protecting and commercialising your existing IP:

  • It will enhance the market value of your business and deter competitors
  • It will turn the ideas you have already invested in developing into profit-making assets
  • It will assist you to market your products and services while minimising risk
  • It will enable you to access or raise additional finance for your business (through investment or, depending on the sector you operate in, through grants of government funding)
  • It will enhance export opportunities for your business by supporting your freedom to operate

If you would like to explore how to maximise the value your IP has to your business, please contact your fellow BSCC member, Potter Clarkson.