A new IP professional?

by Andrew Watson on 22 July 2009

I just finished listening to this week’s installment of Duncan’s excellent IP Think Tank Podcast, Where to now in the age of intangibles?. At the very end of the podcast, Duncan asks for everyone’s final thoughts, and Sharon Oriel of Gathering2 (and formerly of Dow Chemical), shares her dream of intellectual asset mangement becoming a required course for anyone getting an MBA.

My ears pricked up at this comment, as this is a theme that we’ve discussed on this blog, and we’ll be doing some more research on the state of play of IP/Intellectual Capital courses in MBA programmes.

Ron Laurie however went a step further and suggested a triple partnership between law schools, business schools  and engineering schools to create graduate programmes to produce “Intellectual Asset Mangement Executives”. This is a cool idea.

However, I wonder a bit about the inclusion of the engineering schools into this partnership:

  • Law schools bring in the legal background on IP and how the law protects intangibles
  • Business schools bring in the MBA level materials and practical business education
  • Engineering schools, presumably in this partnership, bring in technical know how as well as their perspective on managing the technical side of things.

So the first question: Which engineering school? There’s ME or EE as well as computer, civil, aerospace, and so on. If the programme focus has this school teaching a specific technical area, then what would they teach?

The second question relates to the first: Why engineering?  The answer to this, I suspect, has to do with patents.

Patents play a large role in most technology based businesses when discussing intellectual asset management. Engineering schools could probably bring a lot to the table in the area of patents.  I’d hesitate though in making these sorts of programmes focus too much on one specific technical area – the principles of IAM apply broadly enough that we don’t need to create specialists in aerospace IAM at the graduate level.

But what about Intellectual Asset Mangement Executives who concentrate on areas beyond patent-heavy technology industries? Those that help service-based businesses, software companies, consumer internet, or in media?

If I can dream for a minute alongside Mr. Laurie, I could see a grad programme with a core foundation of intellectual asset management taught by the law and business schools in the first year, and with several electives based on specific industries, including engineering, in the second.

But for now, in the here and today, I think that the first step along this path is Sharon’s point about integrating IP and intellectual asset management into the core curriculum of MBA schools. And I think that this is a dream likely to come true, and is just around the corner.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew watson 08.02.09 at 8:16 pm

Hi Jordan

I’ve just listened to the same podcast. Interesting and, like you, I picked up the same point about MBA IP training. Reporting it is missing and being able to do something about it seem miles apart to me. How to even get started? I suppose if the big schools started offering it then the others would try to follow. But I also come back to a theme we have debated previously—-who would you ask to give all of this training? There are really very few people around who could do this well. I have no more answers.


Jamal Wilson 08.26.09 at 6:44 pm

I actually participated in a program very similar to the one suggested at Georgia Institute of Technology called TI:GER (Technological Innovation: Generating Economic Results). The program grouped 1 MBA student from GT College of MGT, 2 law students from Emory University, and a PhD student from one of the disciplines at GT. The 2 year program allowed me (PhD student at the time) to examine all of the business and legal issues around commercializing technology coming from academic research institutions. The other students in the group got similar exposure to areas of commercialization that they would not otherwise have gotten. I now work in IP management largely because of my experience with the TI:GER program and my interest in the subject matter.

JS Hatcher 08.27.09 at 8:29 am

Thanks for the comment Jamal. It looks like a really interesting and exclusive programme. For reference for everyone the link is at http://tiger.gatech.edu/.

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