IP Strategy – A Must Have for Startup Companies

The braintech entrepreneurs participating in IBT’s Brainnovations accelerator got some valuable input on IP and patents from Reinhold Cohn. Interview with Ilan Cohn.

“If there is one thing that I want startups to take away from my talk, it’s the importance of consulting with an IP expert at the very beginning stages,” says Dr. Ilan Cohn, Senior Partner at Reinhold Cohn, Intellectual Property Attorneys. A team from Reinhold Cohn recently held a presentation and QA session at IBT’s Brainnoations accelerator.IP

Attending the session was Maroun Farah, CEO of SensoMedical, one of the eight participating startups at Brainnovations. “The session was very valuable; it provided the ‘big picture’ of how startups need to go about the process of IP and patents. It also emphasized the importance of approaching the IP process strategically, together with an expert.”

Dr. Cohn emphasizes the importance of the “IP Strategy” for startups. Before sitting down to write a patent, there are a number of questions that need to be answered, including: What patents in the relevant sphere are already held? What is the essence of the innovation? What direction do I expect the company and my competitors to take in the future? How would the venture eventually profit from the innovation?

There are many cases of companies that went ‘from riches to rags’ due to a poor IP strategy. A classic example, Dr. Cohn sites, is that of Epilady, the product of the Israeli epilator giant, Mepro, who was practically wiped off the map when its patent was cancelled.

“Intellectual property, that accounts for about 80% of the value of public companies in the Western world, is a key value-driver of the modern economy. Similarly, IP is a key factor in driving and building value in a startup company,” explains Dr. Cohn. “This is especially true in the medical arena, where the need to publish data in professional journals precludes the use of trade secrets in maintaining exclusivity. And, indeed, no collaborative deal with a big player that is usually critical for advanced development and marketing of medical technologies and products, will happen without adequate patent coverage. If a medical company does not protect its idea, especially in the early stages, it may end up having practically nothing.”

What emerged from the session was the understanding that a patent strategy for startups, in the medical and in other arenas, is like a business plan, and no less important. It needs to be well-thought out, it needs to take into account future developments in the market, and to be executed expertly so that the company’s core is well protected.

Reinhold Cohn is a partner in IBT’s Brainnovations launchpad program, which supports early stage startups, as well as inventors and entrepreneurs with promising ideas, technologies and applications in the braintech arena. Currently the first cycle of the program is underway, with the second cycle planned to take place in Q2 2016.

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