Yesterday, I was looking at an old InterTrust patent application. It was a continuation of an application filed back in Silicon Valley’s dot-com boom times. InterTrust had then, like a lot of our clients do today, very ambitious goals. In this case, those goals didn’t materialize, and InterTrust morphed in to (what I call) a pure innovation company. And it still became very successful because of the value of its intellectual property.
The reason InterTrust could pull this off was that they invested wisely in their intellectual property portfolio, and they took care to protect it. In other words, the geeks did great work, and so did their lawyers.
That memory fact got me thinking. Most of our clients are high-tech companies. And high-tech companies do at least two things simultaneously: (1) they are building markets, customers, and businesses; and (2) they are building an intellectual property portfolio. Even though many of them consider them one and the same, they are really two independently valuable things.
Unfortunately, as the current economic times will attest (not unlike the dot com implosion that continues to inform my thinking), markets come and go—that’s just a part of the creative destruction that is capitalism. Your innovation, however, might just outlast all of this.
You may not, or may not, agree with InterTrust’s new business model, but as a high-tech innovator, surely you must agree that your work has strong value independent of it’s current economic incarnation. In other words, think of the business the IP’s current shell.
Recognizing that distinction, the independent value, and helping you make the most of it is the role of your intellectual property counsel.