In recent posts on marketing intellectual property (IP), I have conveyed the merits of implementing an iterative marketing process. This process includes validating your decision to invest resources in commercialization, developing your marketing plan, executing that plan and scheduling checkpoints to regularly validate your plan.
The final and most critical step is to be attentive to the remaining tasks that position you to successfully execute a licensing agreement:
- Understand the perspective of your licensee. Ask the right questions and understand what needs to be included in the agreement for the licensee to consider it a win-win-win outcome (institution, inventors and licensee). Will your technology provide the licensee with a strategic competitive advantage? Does your technology synergistically complement the licensee’s existing commercial offerings or does it provide new market opportunities? Is the licensee anticipating an exclusive license to your patent(s) or specifically looking for field of use or geographic rights? The answers to these questions provide the framework for a mutually beneficial licensing agreement.
- Explain the licensing process. Clearly define, document, and communicate your licensing process for prospective licensees to improve the cycle time and the productivity for negotiating agreements. Publish your expectations, licensing steps, application and agreement templates, and key contact information on your tech transfer Web site. Proactively managing expectations regarding the time investment, key milestones in the licensing and approval process, along with financial commitment expectations, will result in fewer surprises, debates, and disputes throughout the negotiation process.
- Manage the licensing process. All internal and external stakeholders must avoid unnecessary delays. For many technologies, time-to-market is critical, and delays in the licensing process can result in lost market opportunities from other emerging innovations, leading to no deal at all. Stay focused and don’t get distracted by other initiatives competing for your attention. You’re so close to the “finish line” of getting the deal—don’t let it slip away!
Signing a licensing agreement is a very satisfying and rewarding experience and is often the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work and planning over many months. Enjoy the moment and leverage your recent experiences as lessons learned for your next licensing deal.
Speaking of the next deal, remember that if the final licensing agreement is not exclusive, you should continue to support your marketing campaign in parallel with managing current deal opportunities.
–By Jack Spain
Posts in the “IP Marketing Is an Iterative Process” series:
#1: Introducing the concept of agile marketing
#2: Validating the “go” decision
#3: Developing the marketing plan
#4: Executing the marketing plan
#5: Checkpoints for the marketing plan
#6: Getting the deal