When making IP decisions, Ralph Lambers relies on three tools: The company's overall strategy, the IP strategy and IP Highlighter; an online tool that provides a visual overview of all IP rights owned by the company.
"It doesn't need to be more complicated than that," says Ralph Lambers, Chief Product Officer at Ergonomic Solutions.
The company, which has its production and design center in Nørresundby, provides solutions to retailers, restaurants and others in over 80 countries. For example, the company's modular solutions enable supermarket checkout terminals and displays to be mounted ergonomically to suit each individual employee, or allow the customer to adjust the payment terminal in the optimal position.
Ergonomic Solutions started working with IP about 20 years ago, and in the beginning it was easy to manage and handle the different rights. The journey towards getting a handle on IP began in earnest after Ergonomic Solutions had gradually built up a sufficient number of IP rights and it had become a challenge, for example, to keep track of which rights covered what and where they were valid. At the same time, both the board and management wanted to work more professionally with IP.
"Until then, we had been working with IP rights on a case-by-case basis, but with rights in different countries, with different deadlines and different enforcement, we realised that we had to do something to systematise our IP approach," says Ralph Lambers.
That is why Ergonomic Solutions chose Patrade as its IP partner, which means that the company now has a written IP strategy and a good visual overview of its IP portfolio via the online tool IP Highlighter. IP Highlighter provides a graphical overview of the company's entire IP portfolio, where it is easy to see, for example, where the various rights are valid, when they need to be renewed and what it will cost.
"The overview provided by the tools and the professional handling from Patrade has had a huge impact on our business" says Ralph Lambers and gives some examples:
For example, when the company launches new products that can obtain IP rights, the strategy has already defined in which countries and classes the product should be protected. This allows the company to avoid spending valuable time discussing general processes or things that are commonly done. Instead, it can focus on getting straight to the point and discuss concrete things such as possible extensions or alternative approaches.
"It frees up mental capacity and quality time in the management team," says Ralph Lambers.
Managing the finances
Another advantage of a written IP strategy is that the company knows what it is spending its money on and can plan its budgets quite precisely.
"When the IP approach is ad hoc, you risk spending resources on the projects that are top of mind but not necessarily the most important for the business. Having a written IP strategy, that is linked to the business strategy, ensures that you stay on track and make the right decisions, both in terms of the right protection in the right places, but also on the financial side," says Ralph Lambers.
An effective strategy
For the IP strategy to be effective, he advises others to keep the IP work on a level that can work in your everyday life and not create a big monster that is unmanageable. The strategy should be easily accessible and in a simple language that all stakeholders understand.
"It is crucial that the IP strategy is not a silo in your organisation. It should be linked to the overall business strategy, and preferably be a natural part of it, making it easy and natural to talk about IP in different contexts," he says.