In September 2017, the general office of the State Council issued the Notice on Promotion and Support for the Innovation Related Reform Measures. In the past two years, the state has issued a series of systems and policies to further support innovation and to create an institutional environment that is conducive to public entrepreneurship and innovation and a fair market environment for competition, which provides a sound guarantee mechanism for the innovation and development of enterprises. More and more enterprises pay attention to technological innovation, product research and development. Mass entrepreneurship and innovation is no longer a slogan. Most of the intellectual property rights of enterprises originate from R&D, and the management of intellectual property rights in the R&D system has undoubtedly become the top priority of the intellectual property management of enterprises. From the perspective of R&D management system, this article is going to share several viewpoints on the intellectual property management in this regard.
1. Personnel learning and training
1.1 Intellectual property management personnel learning
The study of the intellectual property managers and patent engineers in most enterprises mainly focuses on the strategic planning, layout and operation of intellectual property, as well as the laws, regulations and procedures of different countries and the writing skills.
Study here means that the intellectual property managers and patent engineers should learn the R&D system process, IPD process, be familiar with the R&D process, and understand the thinking model of the R&D personnel. For example, the R&D personnel responsible for creative design are often very active and unconventional; structural designers pay great attention to principles and reasonable data basis. Therefore, according to the characteristics of different R&D personnel, different communication methods can be adopted for easy acceptance and understanding and reduce communication barriers, so as to go deep into business details and carry out intellectual property management.
1.2 R&D personnel training
In the past, the training conducted by the intellectual property departments for the R&D departments mainly focused on the structure and content requirements of patent excavation and technical submissions, and it was in the form of staff training.
In practical work, because of the different job responsibilities of the project managers, industrial design engineers, structural engineers, software engineers, hardware engineers, and packaging design engineers, the content and importance of the intellectual property rights that they are involved in are also different. Therefore, the contents of training on intellectual property rights should be prepared according to different positions.
For example, a project manager is the person in charge of a product development project, who controls the input and output of the entire project process. In the face of the crowd involving multiple departments, he/she should receive the training on the basic knowledge of intellectual property concepts, patents, trademarks, copyrights. So that he//she can clearly understand the overall concept of intellectual property and easily identify which intellectual property rights should be exported in each project stage and the corresponding requirements, and take the output of intellectual property as one of the contents of project management process control.
For structural engineers, software engineers, hardware engineers, the intellectual property training mainly includes the following aspects: patent technology mining; technical disclosure statement writing; technical retrieval; how to quickly read patent literature; and how to obtain key information. For industrial design engineers and packaging designers, training can be organized on trademarks and copyright knowledge according to their duties.
For the engineers engaged in technical development, in addition to training the skills described above, the following point is particularly important: guiding the R&D personnel to think about the technology substitution and extension. The form of case study can be adopted to let them see clearly the technical development of the system and the complete patent layout, so that they can open up their mind for technical development and the next generation of product research and development.
and training, the
past previous knowledge and thinking model of the
R&D personnel on intellectual property rights can be changed and a common
intellectual property context in the R&D system can be created, which lays
a good foundation for intellectual property management.
2. Intellectual property management in the R&D project process
2.1 Overall planning
Typically, the intellectual property department is responsible for setting the annual intellectual property objectives which are divided and distributed to the product development departments. The product development departments then submit the patent statements according to the indicators they received. In order to fulfill the task of intellectual property application, the intellectual property department of many enterprises even acts as a reminder. Its relationship with the product R&D department is like two parallel lines which intersect occasionally.
The author thinks that in order to do well in intellectual property management in the R&D system, an overall planning for the intellectual property rights should be conducted from the following perspectives: (1) fostering the intellectual property awareness of the R&D team; (2) developing intellectual property search strategy; (3) making layout application plan; (4) performance evaluation; (5) incentive scheme. Intellectual property management should be combined with project management; planning should be conducted in cooperation with the product R&D team; consideration should be given to the overall situation and management should be carried out systematically.
2.2 Intellectual property management in the project process
The R&D projects have a long cycle and involve many departments and personnel with complex contents. What are the "points" of intellectual property management in the project process activities and results? The intellectual property managers or patent engineers must involve in the entire IPD process, become a member of the R&D project team, and work with the project team to carry out and complete the intellectual property work in the process of the project. They should make clear what are the main activities in each stage? What outcomes are exported? What are the risks?
Product development mainly includes five stages, i.e., conceptual stage, development stage, verification stage, release stage and life cycle stage. The workload of intellectual property management in each stage is different with different emphasis. In the conceptual stage, the conceptual function prototype is designed, and the core experience of product is preliminarily integrated and formed. The technical difficulties of software and hardware layout, selection and implementation of design concepts are presented. The preliminary retrieval strategy should be formulated to provide patent information for solving the implementation difficulties; In the planning stage, the conceptual function prototype is finalized, the product core experience is optimized, and the design scheme is integrated and optimized, the software and hardware in line with the design concept are finalized, the solutions to technical problems which hinder the design and implementation are developed, the retrieval strategy should be determined and retrieval and analysis should be carried out; The development stage is the most important part of intellectual property management. In this stage, it is not only needed to keep up with the project progress, search for and eliminate the intellectual property risks in time, but also to launch the patent application layout; In the verification stage, leak filling should be carried out to find out whether there are any new alternatives; In the life cycle stage, although the product is already on the market, product improvement should not be neglected and patent retrieval and application should also be conducted.
Only by going deep into these business details can we be very clear about when to carry out retrieval analysis and what kind of retrieval strategy to adopt; which technology is the core technology point that should be the focus of application and layout; which technical solutions should be included in the corresponding patent portfolio; which technical schemes require evasion design and which parts need for risk transfer. Only by thinking about these issues clearly and drawing a clear picture of intellectual property management in mind, instead of a product, a technical solution and fragmentary management, can we control the overall situation in an entrepreneur’s way of thinking and provide support for the strategic development of enterprises.
3. Incentives for the R&D personnel
The Patent Law stipulates that the inventors should be awarded for job-related inventions, but in practice, it has advantages and disadvantages. The enthusiasm of the R&D personnel participating in the intellectual property work can be increased, but it lacks of subjectivity. In addition to material incentives, spiritual encouragement is also necessary. Therefore, the intellectual property managers should provide feedback of good "quality" to the R&D personnel on the intellectual property work related to R&D.
The feedback here is not telling them all the details about intellectual property work, but focusing on "quality":
(1) Sharp feedback is needed for the information that can motivate the R&D personnel to innovate
For example, sharp feedback should be provided when the R&D personnel receive a patent award, design award, brand awarding honor, internal patent rating awards and so on. It is not enough that only the rewarded staff knows about this, but it should also be disseminated in the whole company in order to enhance the sense of achievement and honor.
(2) Timely feedback is needed for the information that can promote the R&D personnel to participate in intellectual property work
Which technologies are listed as core technologies? Which technologies are copied and evaded by competitors? It is important to let the R&D personnel know such information and participate in technical discussions in a timely manner. Timely feedback should be provided on the final outcome of the treatment, so that the R&D personnel can see the importance of their own part from the overall situation of the event and its relevance to other parts of intellectual property work.
Intellectual property incentives should be real-time. The purpose of incentives is to promote innovation and increase motivation for the R&D personnel, so incentives must be cashed in time. In the different stages of the R&D, including concept, development, validation, release and life cycle, intellectual property objectives should be set for each stage and incentives are provided in various ways to achieve these objectives. The intellectual property related issue is no longer a passive task and painful performance appraisal indicator for the R&D personnel, but a very passionate and meaningful process of self-promotion.
The intellectual property rights, such as technological innovations, PCB layout design, and software source code, originate mostly from the results of various stages of the R&D process. Intellectual property management should be embedded in the whole process of the R&D project and run through all the stages, so that the problems encountered in product development can be solved by searching, analyzing and distributing, and coordinating with R&D. Only by paying attention to the growing awareness of the "R&D personnel" can we really protect the technological innovation achievements, control potential intellectual property risks and foster core competitive advantages.