Innovation is one of the main drivers for business success in the modern global world. Innovation can be groundbreaking or just improvements in some existing processes and products.

Businesses need to perfect their skills in capturing, assessing and protecting innovation. It is easy to make one or perhaps even both of the following errors:

  1. A ‘drop error’ occurs where a business makes a mistake in deciding to abandon a product idea or innovation which in hindsight would have been successful if developed contributing significantly to profits and shareholder value. Too many ‘drop’ errors indicate either a too conservative approach to innovation screening or a lack of effective process to capture, analyse and protect innovations in the business.
  2. A ‘go error’ occurs when a business fails to analyse correctly a new product idea or innovation which then moves into development and commercialisation which actually is a flop and with proper analysis the likelihood of a flop could have been predicted. Too many ‘go’ errors indicate perhaps a young ambitious and inexperienced approach to innovation and product screening, analysis and protection – ie again a lack of effective process to capture, analyse and protect innovations in the business.

Once a business has generated an innovation or a new product idea it is important that this innovation is known about and then a screening process can be used to spot good ideas and bad ideas so that only good ideas are taken these forward and bad ideas are dropped as early as possible.

The cost of developing a product or innovative idea should be questioned at each successive stage of development. The earlier a weak idea is identified and dropped, the better. Businesses will either develop their own screening process or use other businesses to screen their product ideas for the extent of innovation and how this can be protected and also whether there is likely to be a market.

Commercial criteria of your business should be applied to decide whether or not to take the idea forward into production and what if any protection (patents, designs, trade marks) should be obtained. The screening process is likely to cover some of the following issues:

  1. Show evidence that clearly demonstrate who is the inventor/owner of the innovation and the product idea in question;
  2. Is the product easy to copy or reproduce?
  3. What certifications or qualifications are needed?
  4. Does the business have the technical ability to develop it?
  5. What is the potential market? Is it by sales, by licensing or both?
  6. Are there any environmental issues such as carbon footprint, environmental waste and so on?
  7. Is there potential to license a product or start a joint a venture?
  8. Other considerations a business should take into account are whether the product fits in its portfolio and meets the overall business plans and objectives.

In summary, effective businesses in the 21st Century should have a process to capture their innovations, assess the potential, find out if intellectual property rights can be obtained, and apply their own commercial criteria to decide what steps should be taken in the protection and development of these ideas.

If you need advice on any other commercial or intellectual property matters generally, please contact John Sykes on 0113 280 2113.

Please note this information is provided by way of an example and may not be complete.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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