Getting the biggest return on your IP assets requires creating value with them. Leveraging that value requires using it in different markets or applications that turn your IP value into new revenue-generating products, services and technologies.
One example is Boeing, who recently announced it is licensing its IP portfolio to the automotive industry.
This is a strategy often overlooked by most businesses. Some of the biggest opportunities for your IP are sometimes outside your core markets. It requires stepping back and thinking about your IP assets and how to apply them to new industries, new products or services, or combining them with other types of IP.
In the case of Boeing, a number of their patents have applications to the auto industry, especially in the areas of saving weight, collision avoidance, and networking and communication technologies.
If you’ve been unable to commercialize your IP, instead of letting it sit, find other applications for it in different industries. Some interesting examples include Bubble Wrap, which was originally invented as wall paper, and Duct Tape, which was originally used to seal WW2 ammunition cases.
With a little creative thinking, you can discover new uses for your IP. One of the largest consumer products companies discovered a foam used for soundproofing and insulation was also great cleaning tool when wet, and re-purposed it into the number one brand of cleaning sponges and mops. Another example is one of the most successful toy products in the world. The Super Soaker water gun was originally designed as an industrial water pump.
Often times failing in one market opens opportunities into another. Olestra, the fat substitute product from Procter & Gamble, failed in the consumer market was re-purposed as a cleanser for contaminated soil.
Many of today’s biggest companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, Apple and more generate hundreds of millions of dollars by putting their IP assets to work. Rather than keeping them locked up, they license them into new markets, applications and industries. This in turn creates new profit centers, builds their shareholder value and enhances their competitive advantage.
One of the best ways to figure out new applications for your IP is through an IP audit. It’s a management tool that helps you identify, organize and manage your IP assets. Once you know what you have, you’ll discover new uses for your IP. You can then turn these applications into new revenue by licensing into different markets, bundling with other IP, or creating new non-competitive products or services.
For any startup and small business today, licensing out your IP is an effective strategy to get a better return on your IP assets faster and with less risk than doing it all on your own.