Intellectual property: who needs it and why?

In today’s competitive world, nearly every business thrives on innovation and ownership. Genuine business assets including ideas and concepts are protected with the help of intellectual property or IP.

Is today’s competitive business world much different from days gone by? The honest answer would be both a yes and a no. While it’s obvious why many would have chosen yes, there are reasons why it’s not an answer. Well, it’s a NO for the economy. Is the economy the same as it was 30 or 50 years ago? It didn’t have the same pits and drops or driving forces as it does today.

What’s different in the economy and why are companies paying more attention to IP than ever before?

We see that many companies create their R&D departments, hire exclusive engineers and designers, include programmers and researchers to allocate a large part of their budget to invest in inventors who bring IP. On the other hand, there is an explosion of innovation and creativity among many ordinary people who become inventors of products and business models. Often these everyday people have no experience or background in business or technical training.

Why do companies show interest in IP? The answer is simple and direct. It’s because IP back country. It pays both the investor and the inventor. It doesn’t matter if the company buys the invention or finances it, it pays for everything. In business, supply and demand are two very closely related forces. Demand creates more supply and vice versa. Consider this: When it comes to a new business, you will want to display your product on supermarket shelves. These shelves are also packed with products supplied by various other companies. There is usually no option to expand the shelf in the supermarket. This is when there is a dispute. The new company will grab the attention of the public only if it has some special features than the reputed company that sells the product. The special feature could be anything: a lower price, a special ingredient, better appearance, better value, improvised quality, eco-friendly materials or ingredients, or simply anything the customer would appreciate now or in the future. Now, it is time for the existing business to protect itself from the competition. They have to maintain their shelf space to stay in business. How do they help themselves? They do the same as startups. They keep updating their features. They use innovative technology to make them sound and feel better than their competition. Intellectual property and patents. Patents are the best way to keep products on the market for a long time.

Years ago, when I was Director of New Product Development for a New Jersey company, I was asked to design a new infant seat that could be installed in shopping carts at major US and Canadian retailers. The company was the best in the field of developing business equipment and products for the retail environment. I still consider the president of the company one of the smartest businessmen I have ever worked with. He was confused. I asked him, “Our company is the best in the market and we lead the industry with the infant seats we have designed before. Why would you want to invest money, effort and time in a new product when your company already has the best of them?” He calmly replied, “Taking care of a business is like taking care of a plant. You can’t give life to a plant that has dried up due to drought. You have to water it regularly to keep it alive and thriving. In fact, reviving a half-dead plant is much more difficult than keeping it healthy.” I was lucky to learn another important lesson from him. One day, he announced that he was making an offer to buy one of the competing companies that went bankrupt. It was about to shut down completely. I was shocked. I asked him, “Why do you want to buy a dying company? I guess they don’t have anything you want or need. Am I missing something?” The president replied, “Yes, I understand that this company is almost dead. It may not be there anymore, but they have something that I want. They have several patents. This would open up more market opportunities for the owner of these patents. I am very interested in this dying company just because of its valuable patents.” So this made me realize that the demand for innovation and invention creates a supply of new ideas. New ideas give new solutions that in turn give new proposals that eventually become commercial offers.

Modern technology and advanced communication techniques have helped a lot in the demographic aspect. There are a number of television shows like “Shark Tank” that feature people from different social, professional, and educational backgrounds who meet potential investors. Viewers of these shows soon realize that you don’t have to be rich to make money. You don’t always have to come from an influential family to make more money or invent new things. The critical factors that help you make an invention would be observation, creativity, skills or abilities, and willingness to act on the perceived idea. The logical idea to start your business idea is to address the financial needs and initial investment of many independent inventors. Many crowdfunding websites like,, help raise the money needed to get your business up and running. I know some of the inventors on a personal level, who have managed to make money from these websites. They have been successful with their approach and fund their own project. The development of their ideas has led them to make products based on their ideas. I have to admit that crowdfunding does NOT work for everyone. It is not a permanent solution!

If you ask me how I would see the future in the field of intellectual property rights – invention and innovation – I would say that I see it as a river that receives more water, becomes stronger, wider and wilder.

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