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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 journals.

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.

Policy Development

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 exit interviews.

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

Employee Files

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.