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Becoming the IP manager of the future

At Dennemeyer, we are always looking toward the cutting edge of the Intellectual Property (IP) sector — keeping a close eye on developments in technology, best practices and regulations. All of these matters, and many others, are frequent subjects of our blogs, white papers and other insights, such as The Future of IP study from earlier this year.

Today, we want to pay special attention to those administrators who are tasked with overseeing organizations' IP assets and maximizing their worth to the bottom line: IP managers. More will be expected of these professionals over the years to come than has ever been the case; as such, they will need to expand their understanding of IP to encompass an even wider variety of perspectives.

The importance of a multifaceted approach

IP management is, in numerous ways, a multidisciplinary field. This stems from the fact that a professional working with IP every day is handling assets with concrete legal definitions. These Intellectual Property rights (IPRs) are also governed by precise regulations that vary between jurisdictions. As such, even though they may not be a full-fledged lawyer, a broad knowledge of IP law is required, as is the ability to read patent and trademark literature. Wide-ranging legal understanding must be paired with a keen familiarity with the company's products, industry and finances at macro and micro levels. Simply put, an IP manager must be just as cognizant of bottom-line costs, like product R&D and fabrication, as they are of various patents' projected value. There has always been some element of this in the IP manager's job description, but it is now more pressing than ever before.

Those responsible for IP management have always been required to have a firm grasp of the science and technology relevant to their industry. Now, with tech development accelerating at a breakneck pace, it is even more critical for managers to keep up with what their companies' engineers, designers and researchers are doing. Fostering such awareness in themselves will significantly benefit IP managers in conducting freedom-to-operate (FTO) and state-of-the-art assessments and otherwise contribute to the more extensive development process.

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The manager's expanding toolbox

Technological know-how is also vital for managers because the tools with which they ply their trade have transformed dramatically. IP management platforms, for example, are increasingly moving to the cloud — at least in part — while on-premises database storage is becoming less common. Some of the best IP management software suites, like DIAMS iQ, offer both on-premises and cloud methods, affording less cloud-savvy managers a recognizable fallback. That said, it is and will continue to be very important for competitive organizations and their management to adapt to cloud tools sooner rather than later.

Along similar lines, a reasonable understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will also be necessary for IP managers going forward. For one, ML-driven algorithms are what power cutting-edge patent search platforms such as Dennemeyer Octimine, and they are becoming increasingly prevalent in analytics tools. IP managers will be expected not simply to operate these tools at their most basic levels, but to leverage them as effectively as possible. This may, at times, entail reshaping or altering established IP management processes to harmonize with the software workflows.

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The future of Intellectual Property management is becoming more automated. IP managers will need to understand artificial intelligence and machine learning in order to leverage these tools effectively and reshape or alter established processes with software workflows.

As noted by the panel of experts surveyed in Dennemeyer's latest Future of IP study, an IP management system (IPMS) should comprise "infrastructure that, together with analytics tools, enables holistic IP management." Therefore, it is incumbent upon an IP manager to align all staff regarding the chosen IPMS and its tools. This obligation will only grow in urgency as the IP sector becomes more tech-dependent.

Communication is key

While hardly a revolutionary statement on its face, the idea that communication is essential to the modern IP manager's duties is still worth bringing up — arguably, it is worth shouting from the rooftops. Two key aspects of communication will be especially germane to IP management in future years.

The first involves promoting the value and importance of IP throughout organizations. Intangibles account for an increasingly large majority share of many organizations' total assets: In the bluntest terms, IP is worth too much money for everyone in the company not to play some role in safeguarding, exploiting and monetizing it. Managers must be prepared to spread the word of its gravity.

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The modern IP manager's job is to communicate the value and importance of Intellectual Property. Two key aspects will be especially pertinent in future years: promoting its importance to organizations while also elevating individual employees' understanding of what they do for their companies or clients.

The second communicative function ties directly into the first. Different departments within an organization will view IP through different lenses. To ensure everyone works efficiently together, the IP manager of the future will need to appreciate these varying standpoints and discuss IP-related matters with them in mind. Similarly, they will need to help various departments interpret one another's viewpoints when it becomes necessary for them to work together on a shared IP initiative.

Are you ready for the future?

We have only scratched the surface of what is involved in becoming a future-ready IP manager. For an essential deep dive, you will want to read the latest white paper from Dennemeyer Consulting, in which Dr. Cornelia Peuser adroitly examines what led to the matters explored above being integral to the IP industry and how managers can successfully embrace them.

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