It is not the size of company’s patent portfolio, but the patent portfolio management capabilities which determine the value created by patents. [1]  Patent management is significantly related to multiple dimensions of firm’s performance, and strategic management of intellectual property should be made as a priority. Historically, large technology companies waited for inventors to bring good ideas and solutions, afterwards IP attorneys filled patent applications, patents gained exclusivity and companies-maintained patent portfolio. However, this approach lacks in evaluation whether patents bring any value to the business, and limit the strategic, competitive power of IP.

Simenes is an industrial conglomerate and a world leader in industrial research and development. Siemens consistently ranks number one or two in quantity patents filed in Europe, only in 2020 it holded 42.900 issued patents (total number is about 100.000 patents). It changed its IP strategy from a traditional, quantity driven approach to highly value-driven.

Rather than waiting for inventors to bring good ideas, patent attorneys became an integrated part of company’s innovation process. Rather than waiting for inventors to come up with good idea, lawyers talk to researchers to understand and determine how their process and invention might contribute to business value. The new strategy was successfully implemented, with Siemens’ innovation and IP activities fully aligned behind a value-driven IP strategy and the IP group proactively involved in the organisation’s innovation process.

 Beat Weibel, head IP department of Siemens: ” A few months ago, a group of researchers showed me a fantastic new development and proudly reported that they had the drive system, the communications interface, and other components protected in line with patent law. However, they had failed to consider that the device has several innovative applications for which they could have sought patents as well. That’s why it’s very important that our patent attorneys be involved in the innovation process from the very start. Only then can they be sufficiently close to the process to support it and make useful suggestions. As part of this new strategy, our experts now spend much more time with researchers in the labs than was previously the case.”[2]

The ultimate goal of a value-driven business strategy is to establish a business with a unique and competitive customer benefit. A business’s financial figures, such as profit, growth and enterprise value, then become criteria for how effectively and efficiently this value-driven busi­ness strategy is being implemented in operational terms.[3]

To measure quality, Siemens turned to PatentSight, a LexiNexis company that provides software, and analytic tools, that help to determine strength, quality (can be measured over time) and value of patent portfolio. PatentSight is powered by global patent database wiht more than 100 million patent documents, 700 million drawings and illustrations, which can quickly be searched. The indices used to measure quality also take into consideration differences in markets, competition advantages and so on.

Between 2016 and 2020 Siemens increased its IoT patent portolio strength by 47.2 per cent. Strong IoT patent portfolio enables new business offerings, but at the same time demands evaluation of what shall be kept proprietary and what to license.

COLLABORATION and LICENSING

Siemens has a strong interdisciplinary approach, with various form of open innovation (co-ideation and co-creation) and collaborates with start-ups, costumers, universities (25 universities worldwide) and individual experts through the entire lifecycle which make its products customized, truly innovative and helps new solutions and new talents flowing into the ongoing development.

By integrating value-driven strategy patents play a larger strategic role and by use of tools IP attorneys have a better understanding and better recommendations on where the company should invest more, how to competitive advantage, which products to license, and how to create new opportunities.  


[1] https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S0742-332220160000034014/full/html

[2] https://new.siemens.com/global/en/company/stories/research-technologies/open-innovation/innovations-interview-weibel.html

[3] https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3470192