Managing Patents in the HR Department
~Andy Gibbs, Excerpt Essentials
of Patents (John Wiley)
Patent Quality Management (PQM)™ captures corporate
innovation. While Human Resources may appear to have little or nothing
to do with patents, the fact is that "HR" is often the
company's communication and training hub, as well as the keeper
of employee records and documentation
Patent Quality Management (PQM)™ captures corporate innovation.
While Human Resources may appear to have little or
nothing to do with patents, the fact is that "HR" is often
the company's communication and training hub, as well as the keeper
of employee records and documentation - all critical components
to an effective Patent Quality Management system.
We know that engineers put their thoughts on paper,
their designs on CAD systems, and their inventions in their engineering
Similarly, marketing managers scribble their new product
ideas on napkins during lunch, and develop sales projections and
competitive analysis charts on spreadsheets.
Of course, manufacturing experts are always trying
to figure out new ways to make production run faster, smoother,
with less downtime and fewer defects.
And, so it would seem, engineering, marketing, manufacturing
and other operational groups within an organization all inherently
have a method of capturing an employee's inventive work product.
However, without a central information management hub, there is
little correlation between what information the company "captures"
from computers and napkin creations, and long term patent portfolio
value. All of this intellectual property, the essential work product
of a company's employees, represents an incredible investment by
the company, an investment that must produce tangible results.
So, when we assemble the company's collective knowledge
(intellectual capital), the obligation to harvest and manage that
intellectual capital for the benefit of the
shareholders, and determine the management mechanisms
needed to nurture, contain and grow intellectual property and patent
portfolios, all fingers expectedly point to Human Resources.
The Human Resources department "brackets"
an employee's time with the company. It's the HR department that
recruits and hires, and it's the department that hands out pink
slips, accepts resignations and coordinates retirements. It's the
first and last point of contact an employee will have with an employer,
so no department head has more control over what information comes
into the company, what information escapes, and what information
remains as equitable work product by all employees, than HR.
The HR manager has an extraordinarily strong voice
in the Patent Quality Management Team when it comes to corporate
IP policy development. After all, policies all trickle down to day-to-day
employee practices including employee new-hire packets, training,
coaching, monitoring, performance reviews, pre-hire screening and
HR must start planning long before installing a PQM
system in order to play its part in implementation. More specifically
in the areas of policy development, employee training, employee
records retention and practices, employee recognition programs,
and of course, gathering a collection of intellectual property related
forms and agreements applicable to all temporary or permanent employees
Today, the HR manager must take a serious at all employees
across all departments. Opportunities abound to protect internal
processes and system that contribute to the longevity of the company…whether
manufacturing, safety, training or marketing related. With added
importance on inventing and creating new products that are customer
driven, marketing personnel are in a position to identify and contribute
more than other departments. Besides, they are usually more sensitive
to real customer needs that engineering.