Knowing when to license your intellectual property is the difference between signing a big deal or floundering in the market.
- Do you have a new patented technology but haven’t quite figured out how to bring it to market?
- Have you written a new kids book that’s been published and has a great following and now you want to do more with it?
- Has your brand caught on with your customers and is quickly becoming recognized as the hip, cool new product in your market?
- Are your professional seminars and training courses becoming so popular with clients that they’re asking if they can use them directly to train their own employees?
When considering whether to license. these are just some of the road signs that are telling you that your IP is ready for licensing.
Timing is everything when it comes to licensing. The market is dynamic, meaning it’s always changing. That’s what creates the window of opportunity for your IP. Changing technology, customer demand, legal regulations, and a score of other things are constantly changing the marketplace demand for innovation. And it also changes the window of opportunity for your IP because your markets, customers, and competition are always changing as well.
That’s why licensing is such an ideal strategy. It lets you strike while the iron is hot, and take advantage of this limited window of opportunity. What is cold today is hot tomorrow and vice versa.
Developing and licensing your intellectual property does take time. For example, when I worked at the studios, the big kids’ properties were not overnight hits. In many cases, they took years and decades before they ever became popular enough to become the licensing phenomena they are today.
Oftentimes, just a small shift in the market or use of your IP, such as a different format or application, is the difference between going nowhere and landing a big licensing deal.
That’s why it’s important to keep your intellectual property in motion by doing something with it. Whether it’s test marketing, selling it, making it, promoting it, or delivering it, you must keep tweaking and improving it so when the market changes, your intellectual property is ready to take advantage of the opportunity.
Think of it this way. Your intellectual property is the oil of innovation and that oil required by businesses and industries around the world. They are like gears, all moving around and shifting trying to find the latest gadget and gizmo’s to meet their changing customers and markets. But they need to have the oil to continue running. That’s what your intellectual property is … it’s the oil that makes all of these gears run smoothly.
That’s why it’s important you keep your IP visible in the market because it’s challenging to find which gears need your oil. Especially if your intellectual property is very specialized.
For example, it might be a new patented technology that improves packaging for the hair color industry. One of my clients had been working on this IP for years. The technology wasn’t in demand 10 or 15 years ago. But the market shifted in the last five years as sustainability became a priority for many businesses and suddenly the interest in their IP shot sky-high.
Your IP must be in motion to take advantage of that opportunity.
That’s what licensing is about – taking advantage of these trends, identifying where the markets are, where the markets are going, and how your intellectual property fits into that trend. Keep in mind that trends are about solving problems and providing solutions, whether its lowering costs, increasing profitability, or improving convenience.
And when you see these opportunities, the key is matching or fitting your intellectual property as the solution or benefit to capitalize on these trends.
Sometimes you’re a little ahead of the curve and the market hasn’t caught up with your IP. That’s OK. In this situation, it’s even more important to keep in motion because the market can suddenly “catch up” and then your IP is in demand.
On the other hand, if you don’t do anything with your intellectual property, if you just sit with it while the gears are in motion when the market suddenly shifts, you’ll wind up falling behind. At that point, it’s very hard to catch up. The market doesn’t wait. If your IP isn’t in motion if it’s not available to solve the problem or oil the gears, somebody else’s will.
Remember, an IP in motion makes money. When the window of opportunity opens up for your intellectual property, be ready to take advantage of it.
So when you think about is it the right time to license your intellectual property, think about the trends, where is the market going, what do customers want, and is my intellectual property the oil that’s needed to make those gears move?
If it is, that’s when you know it’s time to license your intellectual property.
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.