A Head of IP’s Letter to Santa 

December 15, 2023

Dear Santa Claus, 

I hope this letter finds you in good spirits as the holiday season approaches. As the Head of the IP department of a mid-size U.S. company with approx. 900 active patent families – if that means anything to you at all – I find myself at a crossroads, grappling with challenges and a tinge of envy inspired by the successes of others. 

In my role, I’m tasked with providing more services with limited resources, connecting patent data with business data, and convincing stakeholders that we’re not merely a cost to the business but a valuable source of information. It feels like trying to wrap presents with only a small scrap of wrapping paper – the job seems endless, and the resources are running thin. 

One of the challenges I face is the struggle to integrate various tools in our patent-related software ecosystem. It’s like trying to assemble a complex toy without a manual – frustrating and time-consuming. While I play around with AI tools in my private life, trust issues linger when it comes to relying on them for robust analysis and business purposes. Even if these solutions could make my life easier, how can I trust tools that are a black box to me and argue the results to other stakeholders? 

Furthermore, there’s a constant battle to raise awareness for our work within the organization. It’s as if we’re the forgotten elves working silently in the background until something goes wrong, and suddenly we’re in the spotlight. We’re seen as a necessity, not a benefit. Maybe it is because IP is such a complex topic, and no senior business manager wants to dive into the jungle of IPC and CPC classes or extensive Boolean search strings. I totally get this. 

Dear Santa, overall, I find myself uncertain about the future role of IP management, especially with the increasing influence of AI. Will my team and I become obsolete? Or can we harness the power of AI to enhance our capabilities and prove our value to the organization? It’s like standing on a melting ice cap, unsure if it will hold or if we’ll plunge into icy waters. 

In addition to these challenges, a dash of envy creeps in when I observe how other IP professionals have managed to promote their work internally and also with external stakeholders. Take the proactive involvement of IP professionals at Siemens in innovation processes as an example. Siemens has successfully shifted from a quantitative view to a value and quality-based approach. I am also envious of Japanese IP departments, which are adept at gaining awareness within their organizations, possibly due to changes in the Japan Corporate Governance Code, which requires providing information on investments in human capital and intellectual properties in an understandable manner. The Intellectual Property Strategy Briefing from Asahi Kasei Corporation is a great example of IP’s impact and importance. It is great to see how not only Asahi Kasei but also other players like Merck KGaA leverage the objectiveness of patents to report about sustainable innovation.  

Sometimes, I wish that my company also worked in a standard-relevant technology and that the connection between IP and financial ROI was similarly present so that I could report as proudly as InterDigital about top placements in patent rankings on social media

Santa, I want to emphasize that this letter is not just about airing grievances, but also about expressing a commitment to finding solutions on my own. In the face of these challenges, I’ve outlined a plan to navigate through the complexities of IP management. Firstly, I intend to shift our focus towards the quality of our patent portfolio, utilizing trusted methodologies that will enable us to convey IP insights more effectively to internal stakeholders. Additionally, I plan to evaluate how our portfolio aligns with sustainability goals, supporting our organization’s messaging to external stakeholders. Not wanting to abandon the AI ​​boom, I will try an AI-powered technology classification tool that allows control over the results through an iterative process. I’ve identified a solution that seems to solve a lot of my requirements and resembles a blend of PowerBi, Tableau, and PowerPoint for patent analytics – a promising step towards enhancing our capabilities. Looking ahead, whenever scaling the team becomes possible, I aim to seek out patent professionals who combine analytical prowess with compelling storytelling skills.  

Santa, while these plans offer a strategic roadmap, I may have missed something. My Christmas wish is for your guidance and support in overcoming these challenges and perhaps a sprinkle of that magic dust to expedite this transformative process. Your assistance would truly be a gift that keeps on giving. 

Thank you for considering my request, Santa. Wishing you and the entire North Pole a festive and joyous Christmas. 

Yours sincerely, 

[Your Name] Head of Intellectual Property 

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