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Turning IP Into Measurable Assets: Northworks IP is Changing the Way Business Uses Intellectual Property

VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA -- (Marketwired) -- 07/22/14 -- Editors Note: There is a photo associated with this press release.

Times have changed in the world of intellectual property: IP has become a business tool that can be used strategically to protect investment and market space, particularly within the rapidly moving clean tech and smart home areas of the energy sector.

It's something Peter Cowan, founder and principal consultant at Northworks IP, a B.C.-based Intellectual Property (IP) strategy advisory firm, has been advising for years. Last June, he was named one of the world's leading IP strategists in the IAM Strategy 300, a peer-nominated list researched and published by London, UK-based IAM Magazine.

"IP can be used as a business tool to make sure your market space is protected instead of using it as a reactive piece, something checked off a list," says Cowan. "It is about developing and using patents as a strategic tool - an asset discussed at a boardroom level."

A recent high-profile example makes this amply clear.

Google's purchase of Nest Labs Inc, the makers of smart thermostats and smoke detectors, for 3.2 billion last January has become a high-water mark for acquisitions with a strong component of patents. Now with the series of patent litigations launched by Honeywell, which has introduced Homekit and Honeywell Lyric into the smart home market, it also serves as an example of how critical IP has become to both market share and acquisition planning, particularly within the energy sector.

"IP can be a key business pillar for energy-based ventures given that the industry solutions are now highly technology driven," says Cowan, leveraging his 13+ years of experience working in IP leadership for a global fortune 500 energy company. "Many big incumbents are expanding their offerings, and you need to be protected from them. There are also a lot of startups and, to be a leader in the long term, you need to carve your space out and protect that space now."

Under Northworks IP, Cowan helps companies and their investors strategically position and build their patent portfolios based on market growth and competitor profiles. He has developed a scalable, replicable strategy-based method for moving ideas through the patent-filing process efficiently with the end goal of producing business-relevant patents.

By redefining the approach to patents as a business-based strategy, Cowan's approach represents two key shifts in thinking about patents. The first is moving from a pure patent-filing number KPI measurement toward ensuring a defined patent strategy that offers coverage for the business or projects. The second is shifting from a reactive filing process to focusing on planning filings relative to market and project timelines and takes into account issues such as competitive filing pace and addressable market growth.

Significantly for business executives and investors, Cowan's approach ensures decisions for funds spent on patents are linked to future business impact.

"IP strategy is like any research or market strategy - it is vital in making sure that any investment you put into an organization is going to have a return - and you want to protect that return," he says. "The key difference in IP strategy compared to general business planning is based around the way patent law is structured - IP is not something one can easily fix after the fact. It has to be done with strategic intent early on or the venture will need to spend greater fortunes to purchase or defend against competitive IP in the future."

Currently, Cowan is working with executives, inventors, and technical teams in Canada and Europe to help identify and protect their breakthrough innovations and maximize IP assets. In addition to being a frequent speaker on topics of innovation and patent strategy, Cowan is an associate mentor with both the BC Innovation Council (in partnership with ACETECH) and VIATeC (Victoria Advanced Technology Council), helping early-stage technology CEO's and founders improve the success of their companies.

www.ipstrategy.ca

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