IBM, which once again was the top patent producer in the industry in 2009, is now ready to share its IP processes and software with customers. IBM will help customers learn how to identify inventions that could be patented, apply for patents, license their IP and manage their portfolios. IBM also will license its in-house IP management software to customers.
IBM just wrapped up its 17th
consecutive year as the company with the most patents, and now is ready to help
customers handle their intellectual property.
IBM officials said Jan. 12 that they are
now going to be giving customers access to Big Blue's IP and patent processes
and in-house portfolio management software, a move that was prompted by the
growing interest over the past few years among customers looking for advice.
"We've been seeing in recent years that our customers are increasingly
coming to us and asking us how they can manage their own patent portfolio,"
Manny Schecter, IBM's chief patent counsel,
said in an interview. "At first we were a little hesitant to show other people
what we do."
However, eventually IBM officials felt
that not only could it be good for their customers, but also for their own
"If it benefits the customers, maybe they'll want to come back and do more
business with us," Schecter said.
IBM has more than 30,000 patents-with
4,914 of those coming in 2009-and has developed software and expertise to
analyze and manage its portfolio. That is what companies can now tap into.
Schecter said that expertise covers every aspect in the life cycle of an
invention, from when a researcher first tells the company what he or she has to
evaluating the invention, deciding whether to apply for a patent, in what
countries to file the application, maintaining the patent and licensing the IP.
IBM generates about $1 billion a year
through licensing, he said.
IBM also will help customers identify
potential invention opportunity areas, build an IP portfolio and establish a
culture of innovation.
Schecter said he expects the range of customer needs to vary widely, from
those who just need a little advice on how to manage the patents they have to
others who need to file their first application. And not every customer will
need to license the software, he said.
However, while IBM will give customers
advice on how to manage the patent process, the company won't give legal advice
or evaluate a customer's technology.
"We can show them how we do it, but it's up to them to decide [on their own
products]," Schecter said.
He said the increased interest in patents probably comes from a few areas,
including an increased awareness and the publicity surrounding various patent
lawsuits. CEOs also are becoming more interested in innovation within their own
companies, and IBM's success in the IP game
has become well-known, according to Schecter.
IBM's 4,914 patents in 2009 were more
than a 1,000 more than Samsung's 3,611, and outpaced all other technology
giants, including Microsoft, which had 2,906, Intel (1,537) and HP (1,273).