There is a very popular word of which we have been hearing around during the last years: Innovation. But, what does innovation mean? Sure, it means creating a “novelty” but this is only a part of of its definition, but its essential meaning is “to generate value creating outputs from innovative ideas.” When when we approach the concept of innovation in this way, we observe that the concept consists of two parts: The first part is to have innovative ideas and the second part is to generate outputs which generate values. In other words, an innovation should not only include innovative ideas but also transform it to value creating outputs.
When we say value generating outputs, we become inevitably involved in the concept of intellectual right whereas an intangible asset is required so that an intellectual right can be created. Intangible assets are assets materialized in tangible forms such as works, designs, brands or inventions etc. Therefore, reaching to value generating outputs from innovative ideas constitute the backbone of the innovation process. The creation of innovative ideas and the environment to develop such ideas is the first phase and the second phase is to transform these ideas into intangible assets and to decide about the type of right, geographical regions and terms of protection. Of course, the second phase is more about the process of commercialization of the intangible asset and its management pursuant to a certain ‘Intellectual Property Right Policy’ (“IPR Policy”) and ‘Implementation Plan’ (“Implementation Plan”) by creating strategies required for commercialization.
A proper innovation process is an integrated process which should be managed with a “consciousness of collectivity” that includes C levels, R&D specialists, inventive/creative technical persons/artists and specialists on intellectual rights, marketing and finance. Therefore, an effective innovation process can only be achieved with correct collaborations and commercialization strategies. In today’s world where we see each passing day the effects of the Industry 4.0 revolution, which is the expression of the fourth stage of the industrial revolution with end-to-end connection of cyber-physical systems and dynamic data processing to value chains, which can also be defined briefly as the digitalization of the production industry, “Innovation” is the underlying structure of this revolution. Enterprises which foster innovative thinking encourage this environment and can alter their management and business models when required to establish this system will have a serious competitive power.
Speaking of “the necessity to adapt to this culture”, we need to emphasize that the innovation requires a change of culture in itself; it is impossible to foster innovative thinking, and therefore to create innovative products and services in enterprises which fail to create a free environment focused on developing new ideas; which don’t allow making mistakes while developing innovative projects and improving by learning lessons from mistakes; which prevent their employees from taking responsibility; which don’t support interdepartmental collaboration; which don’t think and act strategically whereby social roles are important. Therefore, it is obvious that the patterns of belief such as “We’ll sort it out anyway” or “We’ll make it up as we go along” that exist in our culture for centuries are incompatible with the innovation culture.
The same cultural patterns inevitably influence the way the lawyers perform their professions. First of all, lawyers should content themselves to understand the commercial strategies of the enterprises and to interpret them legally in compliant with these strategies as they need to be able to work in collaboration with the technical staff/engineers, patent attorneys and R&D engineers (creative real persons) who have a central position in the innovative activities of the enterprises and act with a shared wisdom/language. Thus, the strategic frame of mind of the innovation culture changes the position of the lawyers from being a “supportive unit” whose opinions are sought at the end of the process and who is seen by the enterprises as a cost item rather than as an integral part of the strategic unit which is involved particularly in the stages of the creation, protection, commercialization and management of the intangible asset as a value and right from the beginning. This situation forces the lawyers specialized in the field of intellectual property law to specialize further in Strategical IPR Management, and they cease to be the people consulted at the end of the process and become “strategic mentors” who determine IPR management framework (“IPR Management Framework”) of the enterprise and to that effect, also offer a ‘change management’ service between all the units included in the organizational diagram of the enterprise. The compliance of the the lawyers specialized in the field of intellectual property law with the innovation culture becomes very important at this point, because enterprises which create intangible asset based on innovative ideas and protect them legally should also ensure that these products don’t violate any third party intellectual rights. At his point, lawyers have a task to accomplish at the very beginning of the process when determining legal strategies to designate risks of violation of third party intellectual rights in progress or in case the product violates the rights of other products with the help of Freedom to Operate analysis and the preparation of a proper commercialization strategy could be completed as such. Therefore, lawyers specialized in the field of intellectual property law should establish and sustain collaboration between departments; observe carefully the commercial conditions and competitive environment of the enterprise and the landscaping and clustering of the current and potential intellectual rights portfolio of the enterprise with the help pf comparative and global analysis; have strong contacts with technical staff or artists and emphasize strategic thinking.
In consequence, innovation started not only to create a cultural structure that influences not only the legal field but also several professions and ways of conducting business but also to force professionals, enterprises and entities to adapt to this culture. Irreversibly, in today’s world where new products and services based on innovative ideas that are placed on the market each passing day raise the expectations of customer masses, only the enterprises that can adapt themselves to innovation culture which requires the extension of the scope of innovative products of services of good quality will have the sufficient and required competitive edge and survive. The others will fall way behind and disappear by loosing their power to compete. And as such, the humankind who is in self-denial for centuries will become aware again that the only thing that doesn’t change in the world is the improvement, change and even transformation.