Building an IP strategy reading list

by Andrew Watson on 23 March 2009

One thing I’ve been informally working on is building out a reading list on Intellectual Property strategy.  I know that there are a quite a few books out there dealing with (specific) aspects of the topic, as well as numerous articles in industry publications and law reviews, but what lies at the core?

What materials would you use to teach IP strategy?

This could be in the context of teaching MBAs about IP, a CLE/CPD to lawyers, or training a business’s board and management about IP. Of course a large part of the answer depends on how you define IP strategy, as when you start talking about intellectual capital it can cover virtually everything about a business, including how you motivate and manage human capital.

As a research brief, I phrased it in the context of teaching, as I think that this brings focus to the core of the ideas and techniques that form the structure that can later be built on with more specifc and multi-layered activity. I do want to focus though on a wide range of materials around IP, or more broadly the “intangibles”, for both practising IP strategists  and for those who just need to know the basics in order to understand this element to their business.

The IP strategy reading list would likely break down into:

  • The basics of Intellectual Property rights (for those that need to know more about IP).
  • Sources outlining the importance of intellectual capital and its relevance to business.
  • Books / articles outlining specific strategies (such as building an IP thicket)  — taking care to focus on all areas of IP and not just patents.
  • Reference material for the IP strategist.

Any suggestions for the list?

I’ll be adding pages and developing content for each of these four areas over the coming months, so please send in your suggestions.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jackie Hutter 03.23.09 at 2:43 pm

Jordan, there are 3 books that opened my eyes from being a “traditional” (that is, rights-oriented) patent person to a more asset-focused IP person:

Rembrandts in the Attic
Edison in the Boardroom &
Ideas to Assets

I would note that these were not reference materials for me. Rather, these books introduced me to a new way of looking at IP. This new awareness started me on my journey to becoming what you and I call “IP Strategists.”

As for the legal aspects of IP strategy, since I am a highly-trained IP expert, I did not need basic legal training to become an IP Strategist. My fear is that we folks coming at the discipline from the legal side will try to make IP Strategists trained from the business side (that is, in B-schools) think that they cannot understand the complexities of IP law enough to attain full proficiency. It is my strong belief that to be an IP Strategist one needs only minimal understanding of the legal aspects of IP in order to competently build asset value from IP. Think about it: a real estate developer does not need to know all of the legal issues associated with real estate law in order to expertly build asset value. Rather, the real estate developer needs only to know enough about real estate law to know when a lawyer needs to be called in to look at a situation. I also believe that relatively few legally trained IP types can attain the necessary proficiency in business in order to attain competency in the business side of IP.

Against this background, I have not seen a text that I would recommend to teach b-school types the fundamental aspects of IP law that would allow them to understand what they need to know to start on the way of becoming an IP Strategist. Maybe the “best” b-school text dealing with real estate law (or tax law for that matter in the realm of tax strategy) could be mirrored in the future to provide the necessary grounding for IP Strategists that will increasingly come from the b-school side.

Michael F. Martin 03.23.09 at 4:21 pm

A more recent book that provides much of what you’re looking for is Michael Gollin’s Driving Innovation. Highly recommended.

Guy Carmichael 03.24.09 at 9:26 am

May I suggest that the EPO’s “Scenarios for the Future” book or download(see might provide a resource for understanding the main issues of the day concerning IP – admittedly, primarily patents? Through looking at possible challenging futures, the issues of today – business, geo-political, societal and technological – are considered in the context of IP and, at least for the inexperienced, they combine in one source to give an overview of the world of IP. The book is accompanied by the transcripts of the ca. 150 interviews held with those who should know. Even this as a resource on its own is probably unrivalled as a single resource for thinking about IP.

JS Hatcher 03.26.09 at 1:17 pm

Thanks everyone for the comments. I think possibly a wiki or some other collaborative tool to help build this out further will likely be needed. I’ll compile these and other suggestions I’ve received, as well as my own list, to start building something out.

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>