Published on June 24th, 2008 | by Maryanne Conlin
Watch Your Back – Protecting Your Green Invention
When I spoke with Nancy Cronin Edwards last week, she had just returned from TechConnect Summit in Boston. Cronin Edwards is a principal in ipCapital Group, a consulting firm specializing in intellectual property strategy, and had been speaking at the conference and was excited, but also concerned about growth in clean tech.
It wasn’t the growth which caused her concern; it was the viability of many of the companies crowding the field. While many of those flocking into the realm of clean tech are serial entrepreneurs with the successes (and failures) that lead to carefully crafted business plans, many are also new to entrepreneurship and in Cronin Edward’s opinion may overlook the importance of integrating intellectual property into overall strategy.
Early stage companies need to selectively consider what they choose to protect with a patent. A number of them haven’t considered that part of their strategy. She warned.
Over the past few years, Cronin Edwards has seen a tremendous growth in interest in the area of green technology, but warns that there are pitfalls for ecopreneurs. She explains that as there is a lot of media play on green washing, companies that divert into the green area, if going green is not part of their core strategy can run into trouble. Going green must be consistent with a firm’s business model or going green will end up being disruptive.
She advises innovators in green technology to integrate marketing into the product development process early, to assure that the idea is marketable and meets consumer needs. Staying current with competitive activities and changes in product offerings is key in this rapidly growing area and protecting appropriate processes with patents should be considered early in the planning stages.
As eco businesses become a greater part of their practice, ipCapital Group has revised one of their core offerings, Invention on Demand® to meet the needs of green entrepreneurs. This one day session brings key managers from a variety of departments together to focus on how to leverage green technologies within the company and within the marketplace.
Bringing together a multi disciplinary team at the start of an innovation process is a best practice in the field of product development, one that I have often used. Integrating protection of intellectual property and focusing on the potential hazards of green washing I found intriguing and forward thinking as we enter a new and crowded age of green technological development.
Photo credit: 807880at Flickr Under Creative Commons License