The research and development (R&D) process can require considerable investment in both time and money. But, in the rush to market, it can be difficult for R&D teams to identify those innovations that are of most value for protection as patents. Novagraaf’s Innovation Capture service and new dedicated portal ‘Novaneo’ have been designed to help companies to achieve this goal.
How does a busy R&D team focus its efforts in order to methodically extract innovations for protection as patents, while avoiding those areas where little gain is to be found? While all businesses want to find ‘nuggets’ of value for the future, in the rush to deliver, it is all too easy to overlook potentially valuable, but non-core, innovations – or to focus R&D in the wrong areas.
The ability of a business to deliver on its goals of building a strong and defensible patent portfolio will often depend on the guidelines and processes it puts in place at the very beginning of the R&D cycle.
An independent view
To successfully capture innovation, in-house patent teams or their external advisers need to have mechanisms in place to identify, extract and analyse inventions. Ideally, this is achieved via an organised dialogue between patent experts and the R&D teams (and/or inventors) in line with a pre-agreed and structured methodology. To be effective, this methodology needs to guide technical teams, enabling them to detect and/or improve innovation within the company.
Novagraaf has created such a methodology in Innovation Capture, a service that we deliver in association with Neo Factory, a specialist on the creation and industrialisation of innovative products. Our teams work together with customers’ internal stakeholders (R&D heads, inventors, technicians and project managers, and so on) in order to review existing projects and procedures so as to detect, identify and extract technical solutions likely to be protected. Novaneo, our multi-user portal, facilitates and captures innovation management decisions and exchanges. Find out more about the Innovation Capture methodology
New solutions for today's challenges
Businesses will often look to their external patent counsel to sit in on planning sessions or R&D review meetings in order to encourage in-house teams to keep the potential patentability of inventions front of mind. Innovation Capture takes this practice one step further, helping the business to maximise the output of its R&D efforts from the very beginning of the innovation life cycle.
This includes ensuring that any invention is worked according to technical and legal prior art, so as to ensure the broadest possible patent protection is obtained. We find that the methodology also helps to generate new ideas as it requires inventors and R&D teams to discuss the invention from the outset, using technical, industrial and creative language, and highlighting any constraints in advance that might impact the patentability of their output. There are cost benefits too of avoiding potential impasses or unnecessary workarounds early on in the process.
As both IP and R&D budgets continue to be squeezed, the implementation of a tailored and structured methodology such as this could be the difference between patent headaches and patent success.