This is a strategy often overlooked by most businesses. You view your IP as “protection” for your product, service or technology. Yet, some of the biggest opportunities for your IP are sometimes outside your core markets. It requires stepping back and thinking about your IP and how to apply it in new industries, new products or services, or combining them with other types of IP.
Many of today’s biggest companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, Apple and more generate hundreds of millions of dollars by putting their IP to work. Rather than keeping it locked up, they license it into new markets, applications, and industries. This, in turn, creates new profit centers, builds their shareholder value and their competitive advantage
One example is Boeing, who is now licensing its IP portfolio to the automotive industry. A number of their patents have applications in the auto industry, especially in the areas of saving weight, collision avoidance, and networking and communication technologies.
Another example is Bitcoin who is using its block-chain technology to develop an online document ownership verification system. Known as Proof of Existence, it’s designed to document ownership without revealing the information in the document. The real document is not stored online and limits the risk of unauthorized publication. In addition to time-stamping, the system verifies the file content. Developers can use the service to later verify versions of their code, inventors can prove they had an idea at a certain time and authors can protect their works.
Often times failing in one market opens opportunities into another. Instead of letting it sit, with a little creative thinking, you can discover new uses for your IP. Olestra, the fat substitute product from Procter & Gamble, failed in the consumer market was re-purposed as a cleanser for contaminated soil. One of the largest consumer products companies discovered a foam used for soundproofing and insulation is also a great cleaning tool when wet, and re-purposed it into the number one brand of cleaning sponges and mops. Other interesting examples include Bubble Wrap, which was originally invented as wallpaper, and Duct Tape, which was originally used to seal WW2 ammunition cases.
If you’re looking at your IP with tunnel vision, then you might be missing out on new potential income opportunities. Especially if your IP is useful in different markets or industries outside of your core business area. The key is looking at your IP in new ways to discover new uses for your IP. You can turn these applications into new revenue by licensing into different markets, bundling with other IP, or creating new non-competitive products or services. And in today’s global marketplace, you can license your IP into new revenue opportunities without cannibalizing your existing markets.
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges, and startup events. His first book, Hidden Wealth: The Money Making Power of Licensing was released in 2019 and is available on Amazon.com. He’s also a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.