Innography Blog

Posts by Thom Kobayashi




Personal Tales of Innovation: Determining the Value of a Patent.

I thought I’d take a break from the technology view of the world and pivot to the business side of things. One of the most frequently asked questions is, “What’s the value of this patent?” This is a very hard question to answer on a number of levels, but mainly because a patent’s value isn’t just based on what it covers technically, but commercially as well. Without both points of view, the valuation is incomplete. And of course, commercial context is not covered in a patent document.

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Categories: intellectual property management, ip strategies, licensing strategy, patent analysis, patent portfolio analysis


If At First You Don’t Sell, Simply Let it Lapse: Deriving New Value from Your IP Portfolio

Most portfolio managers get a list of patents with fees due that quarter. Their job is to look at the business, see which ones they’re using, and pay the fees. They’ll likely let the rest lapse in order to “save” cost on assets not currently supporting the business. But what these managers aren’t considering can be best described by the old saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Put more directly, you can create easy income for your organization simply by selling unused assets, rather than just allowing them to expire.

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Categories: intellectual property management, ip strategies, licensing strategy, patent analysis, patent portfolio analysis, patent strategy


Personal Tales of Innovation: Impossible things….

One of my buddies used to say “America was built by salesmen and engineers.” I think there’s a good argument for that. Edison and the light bulb, Bell and the telephone, Ford and mass production, the Wright brothers and flight, just to name a few. You can find books written on these endeavors. But there are many patents that exist that are not known or studied, but that have commercial impact. Finding stories about those is a little tougher. As an Engineer, I took part in creating several of those commercially successful patents. Here’s one of them, where my team worked a persistent problem that no one else had cracked.

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Categories: intellectual property management, ip strategies


Personal Tales of Innovation: We have all been here before…

Problem solving happens every day. When it’s your job to be a problem solver, the questions can be really challenging and you may have to figure out a lot of stuff. It can take weeks, sometimes years, to get your answer. Other times the answer presents itself, often as a result of prior experience. In these cases, you often look really smart, when really you’re standing on the shoulders of those that came before you. My experience is that many “high tech” problems are really just old problems in a new setting.

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Categories: patent strategy, r&d strategies


Personal Tales of Innovation: Failure is Your Friend (and Teacher)

I don't really think of myself as an Inventor, even though I have more than 20 years in R&D and my name on over 40 patents issued in various jurisdictions around the world. To me, those patents are the culmination of a lot of people’s work. It happened to be my job to put the pieces together into some kind of solution, so I got the patent. One way or another, a central pillar of my career has been the development of innovation, either someone else’s or my own. First as a process engineer, then in a patent law firm drafting other people’s solutions, and next as a portfolio manager, finding and bundling other people’s solutions to solve still other people’s problems. Even in the course of my Masters Degree in Technology Commercialization, I studied an idea, turned it into a good or service, wrapped a venture around it, to ultimately pitched it to venture. In other words, ask for somebody else’s money to develop a third person’s ideas, in order to solve a generic fourth person’s problem. I’ve referred to it as “puzzle mentality”, where I like to think about the world through the lens of problems and problem solving.

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Categories: application trends, intellectual property management, patent analysis, patent search, patent semantics, patent strategy, patents, r&d strategies


Is it Time to Put Spreadsheets Behind Us?

Years ago, when I was back on the engineering side making chips in a factory, we used spreadsheets for recording and processing data. Spreadsheets were great. They let us collect a static set of data, filter that data, perform some simple calculations and finally, present the data with a simple visual, like a bar or pie chart so my boss could understand the output the same way I did. I could share a view of the data that was interesting in some important way so we could start to drive improvement. I would send these sheets around so that I could share my data with my peers as well so they could understand what we were trying to accomplish. Sometimes, I would paste the data or images into a presentation.

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Categories: big data, data correlation, patent analysis, technology forecasts


Of Patent Rights and Unreasonable Taxation

In this post, Thom Kobayashi tackles the highly-sensitive issue of NPEs and patent rights from an unusual perspective.

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Categories: industry outlooks, intellectual property management, non-practicing entity, patent licensing, patent litigation data, patent troll