IP Metalworks! Special Edition

The Business and Law of Innovation

Presentation Synopsis


The premise for this presentation is that intellectual property, in its broadest sense, has a great deal to do with the valuation of a company, as much or more so than the tangible assets, and that valuation therefore begins with the people who make up the company, both at the executive and bench levels.  In order to best realize this valuation, educating those people about IP is a highly effective tool. 

Intellectual property is much more than patents and trade secrets.  It is who you hire and how your people work together.  It can be used constructively or destructively.  It is also a kind of currency, and can be used or shared to build relationships, grow industries, misdirect competitors, fund collaborations, and dazzle potential customers.  Intellectual property also comprises "intelligence", that timely awareness of what others are doing and thinking, and in this broad, Machiavellian sense, the integration of IP awareness into the daily and strategic execution of a business plan is really about "enlightened empowerment" at all levels of your organization.

Starting from the basic building blocks of Labor, Trade Secret and Patent Law, the seminar offers exempt employees an explicit choice between longer-term prosperity with a company versus immediate gains as individuals, and describes the rules, risks and potential rewards for making those choices on a daily basis.  Discovery phase researchers are challenged to examine team and leadership tactics that empower or disengage individual contributions, shorten or lengthen critical paths (and hence gain or misuse IP assets, sensu lato), and to integrate tools for building an IP portfolio into daily laboratory practice. And entrepreneurs are invited to test their skills in managing intellectual property by full integration of bottom-up, cross-staff, interdisciplinary innovation and “intelligence” transfer in-house; a refresher on “invent around” techniques (both offensive and defensive) can also be scheduled.

Case studies are used to illustrate real-life issues, and the audience is invited to choose possible outcomes.  Fact-based legal analysis of the actual outcomes is then presented so that the principles involved are more than dry lists and tables.  The range of case studies can include litigation (to illustrate important principles of intellectual property in conducting research), or industrial espionage, or group dynamics, where intellectual property is involved. For Employees, the implications of RCW 49.44.140 are often of interest.  While attention is given in the seminar to the classical stuff of intellectual property—patents, technology transfer agreements, and trade secrets—the mix will depend on the selected audience's needs.  Discussion for example can include tools for rapidly identifying intellectual property and sharing it in an organization, along with explicit case studies of how selective use of intellectual property can be harmful to the organization, or even unlawful.  A positive view of how intellectual property, collected at every level, can transform and grow a company to the benefit of every member, is the “take home” in all presentations.


Karel Lambert offers seasoned counsel on research and the law for inventors and entrepreneurs, experience gained from several careers, having worked in start-ups and corporations as a scientist, engineer, inventor, and as patent agent, in biology, molecular biology, pathology, chemical engineering, fermentation process research, pharmacology, and electronics.  He joined the patent bar in 2002 but has focused heavily on industrial discovery phase research since 1991.  He was the principal inventor on two commercial products and several manufacturing processes.  This diversity of background, combined with a hard-earned perspective on intellectual property drawn from the Board Room and the Bench, makes for serious listening. 

For more, see IP Metalworks!  A Patent Practice Journal