How is digital shaping the future of intellectual property? What makes innovations and brands vulnerable? Why are IP management and brand protection converging? What does it all mean for your intangible assets…and what should you do about it?

If like us you are captivated by such questions, you might like to join us as we explore a range of interesting and engaging topics across IP, brand enhancement and protection. We will be considering some of the fundamental changes that are shaping the industry, including those we are in the middle of or leading, by pulling together insights from our own experts and the other thought leaders who are confronting these topics every day.

Kicking things off, this is everything you ever wanted to know about Innovation Assets. Back in April, we brought together Zacco and OpSec, two similar but different players from the world of intellectual property and brand. But why combine a 150 year old patents, trademarks, and digital security business with a modern provider of authentication and brand protection solutions? More specifically, how does something we call an “Innovation Asset” fit into this vision of the combined business, and what role will these assets play in our own future?

Those familiar with Zacco know that what we call our IP360 approach operates across three principal areas of Innovation Assets, Digital Assets, and Identity Assets. Each encompasses discrete but interconnected aspects of an organization’s ability to identify, capture, develop, monetize, and secure their intangible assets. In the future, we will be exploring the significance of Identity Assets and Digital Assets. But first up, Mats Boström, General Manager of Zacco IP Solutions, sat down with Tomas Wässingbo, Business Development Responsible – Innovation Assets, and Selva Selvaratnam, CEO of the OpSec Group to talk about Innovation Assets.

How can you identify and protect what makes an organization innovative?

Intellectual property rights form part of the foundation and underlying value of many intangible assets. While a patent may represent that value, it forms part of a wider ecosystem and is often the result of a long and complex innovation journey that leads to its development. Innovation Assets encompass the ingenuity and creativity that could lead to the development of a specific technology or product. For example, ‘know how’ or the development processes in an organization, or the trade secrets or algorithms they have created. Some companies have yet to realize that each of these areas represents a potential asset, some of which can be clearly defined and protected.

“True innovation is about capturing the DNA of an organization, and focusing on what gives them their competitive edge.”

04:56 | Tomas Wässingbo, Business Development Responsible – Innovation Assets, Zacco

OpSec and Zacco already protect the innovation and intellectual property that people know about, through assets such as patents, trademarks, product authenticators, or online content and brand protection. But Zacco’s Innovation Assets area is also about protecting the DNA that underpins innovation. This helps organizations identify and safeguard their ability to innovate, as well as the potential patents and other intangible assets they are not yet aware of. This is often achieved by better understanding what can be protected and how to capture it, as well as developing a culture of IP awareness that recognizes potential IP when it emerges.

But what has this got to do with golf balls?

Zacco often uses the example of the golf ball to demonstrate what is meant by overarching protection. A Patent professional will see the Utility Patents involved, so the function of the ball, whether that be the fluid dynamics and airflow involved, or the chemical makeup of the physical ball itself, or the structure of the small dimple patterns on the surface and the technical effect of those. They may then consider how to protect the mold that incorporates all of this and allows an equipment manufacturer to produce the golf balls themselves.

Golf ball

“Most consumers will look at this and only see a golf ball, but if you put it into the hands of someone who knows about intellectual property, it becomes much more.”

07:07 | Tomas Wässingbo, Business Development Responsible – Innovation Assets, Zacco

A Trademark and Design professional will focus on the ball design, the shape, the appearance, even the spacing between those dimples, and show that these can be protected, along with how they can be incorporated into a wider anti-counterfeiting strategy. They consider where and how the branding is portrayed, its positioning on the ball, how it looks when used and how these assist customs agents or the public in recognizing fakes.

So how do you create a business strategy that can harness those internal ideas?

The value of intangible assets needs to be protected, and Innovation Assets introduces the means by which to protect, secure, and monetize ideas. EU firms with patent ownership earn on average 36% higher revenue per employee, according to a joint EUIPO and EPO analysis, so developing and maintaining patent protection represents an important part of staying competitive in markets that are ever more defined by innovation.

“There is little point in creating IP rights or intangible value if you don’t do anything with it.”

10:29 | Selva Selvaratnam, Chief Executive Officer, OpSec Group

A patent portfolio represents a treasure trove of potential. Patents form a key part of the technological development of an original idea, allowing public protection for a defined time period, and ensuring that no other organization can use that idea without permission. Such permissions can themselves be a potential revenue stream, with entire corporate ecosystems dedicated to patent licensing and cross licensing, particularly within areas that rely upon advanced technology or extensive research, such as the telecommunications, automotive, or pharmaceuticals industries. Zacco’s patent and trademark knowledge represents a significant step forward and widening of OpSec’s licensing solutions, and Innovation Assets will form a key part of those workflows in the future.

How did Zacco and OpSec take different journeys to a single destination?

Both organizations recognized the fundamental value of intangible assets. Zacco, with its three IP asset models, worked towards developing the infrastructure to provide the knowledge and skills necessary to protect and future proof what makes an organization unique. For OpSec, platforms were already developed to protect and monetize those rights that are known about. But becoming a true end-to-end provider means working alongside customers throughout the entire development lifecycle. In Zacco, OpSec found a partner who shared a vision of supporting and protecting intangible assets in all their forms, and who was not afraid to think unconventionally.

“Zacco rounds out that industry strategy because they fill in a lot of the gaps that we know about, and even some that we didn’t.”

12:23 | Selva Selvaratnam, Chief Executive Officer, OpSec Group

End-to-end solutions within intellectual property mean being able to understand each of the different aspects of a product or brand, where and how it might be used or copied, where it sits in the marketplace, and how it might be explored or shared by consumers or copied by others. Together, OpSec and Zacco can build a unique brand and business, able to assist organizations “from inception to implementation” and beyond.

Why is the innovation agenda so important for OpSec in the future?

Addressing Innovation Assets and other asset models of Zacco offers an opportunity to provide more in-depth service to customers. The nature of innovation remains unpredictable, as new ideas can arise from anywhere. But a firm grasp of Innovation Assets can help better identify and capture innovations and ideas. It could also help understand a competitor’s patents, potentially offering an insight into their own innovation journey. Innovation, Identity, and Digital Assets represent our future approach to intellectual property and our aim to provide solutions that encompass the full developmental lifecycle for intellectual property and brands.

“it is also often about the simple serendipity that emerges when you put together smart, creative and resourceful people… and that’s what we have done with OpSec and Zacco.”

17:49 | Selva Selvaratnam, Chief Executive Officer, OpSec Group

About the contributors:

Mats Boström

Mats Boström | General Manager, IP Solutions, Zacco

Joining the firm in 2013, Mats has overseen Zacco’s development of the successful IP360 and IP Services models, as well as the expansion of the Zacco brand into both the UK and India.

Tomas Wässingbo

Tomas Wässingbo | Business Development Responsible – Innovation Assets, Zacco

Tomas draws inspiration from a prominent patent career in-house at Sony and several years as an Examiner at the Swedish Patent Office.

Selva Selvaratnam

Selva Selvaratnam | Chief Executive Officer, OpSec Group

Selva has overseen the evolution of OpSec into a comprehensive provider of intellectual property management and brand solutions, following a career in brand and identity security, and as a technology entrepreneur.

Other blogs in our Q&A series

Everything you ever wanted to know about…Digital Assets

Digitalization has become a pervasive force that touches almost every aspect of intellectual property and brand identity. Hear from our experts as they explore the opportunities and issues this represents.

Everything you ever wanted to know about…Identity Assets

Explore the changing role of brand identity and why it is becoming such a complex intellectual property asset to protect. Hear from OpSec and Zacco experts on how to embrace opportunity and mitigate emerging threats.