How many IP advisers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Developing a new idea into a marketed product requires inventiveness, skill, determination …and some good IP advisers!

First, you may need a technology adviser. Technology advisers bring a wealth of experience to bear on how technology can help to shape future industrial needs. They can also bring royal glamour to your project.

Next, you will need an IP strategist, to assist you with worldwide IP strategy. We think of IP strategists as turbo-charged IP attorneys, with commercial nous, a strategic overview, and a good PR agent. They think they are a new, separate profession, and they have their own league table.

Before you get too far, you may require the services of an IP informatics adviser, who will show you the patent landscape in 3D, graphical form, and help you decide whether to protect the foothills, the valleys or the mountain peaks of innovation. Based on the advice of the technology adviser, the IP strategist and the IP informaticist, you will sink gratefully into the arms of an IP attorney, who will convert the strategy into a robust set of patent claims. But if you are American, please bear in mind that (unlike in the US) a European patent attorney is not necessarily qualified as an attorney, so you may need separate commercial law advice from a solicitor and/or barrister.

At this point, you may require the services of a commercial adviser, who will assist you in seeking out business opportunities for your idea. If you take the advice of the UK Intellectual Property Office, you will make sure that your adviser claims adherence to British Standard BS8538. Please note the word “claims”: there is no official audit of compliance, and the only remedies for wrongful claims would seem to be to allege misrepresentation or try to persuade Trading Standards to take an interest.

Instead of developing the product yourself, you may decide to license your IP. But how much is the IP worth? You need a royalty adviser… (sorry, wrong type of royalty, let’s do that again.) You need a royalty adviser… If you lack experience of negotiating IP agreements, you may also require assistance from a Certified Licensing Professional.

Once the agreement is in place, it is tempting to put it in a drawer and forget about it. You may find, though, that the licensee is not paying you the correct amount of royalties. To assist you with this problem, you may require the services of a royalty auditor.

If things get really bad, you may find yourself in a dispute with your licensee. At this point you may need a dispute resolution adviser, who will be able to recommend a suitable type of dispute resolution process. But did you remember to take out IP insurance before the dispute arose? Or can you persuade an attorney to take the case on a contingency fee basis? If you find yourself in court in the US, you may want to include in your legal team a specialist jury adviser.

Once the royalties are streaming in, you may decide you would prefer to take a cash lump sum, and retire to your lawyer’s private island off Panama. For this you will need legal assistance in negotiating a royalty sale agreement. (We love the name of the representative of Northwestern University responsible for this deal, Eugene S Sunshine.)

By our calculation, you will need at least 14 different types of adviser to undertake the above tasks. Or have we forgotten anyone?

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