Entrepreneur & VC Perspectives on Intellectual Property


On January 10th, Caldwell, a Cambridge patent firm, hosted “Entrepreneurs & VCs perspectives on Intellectual Property with the MIT Enterprise Forum held on the campus of MIT. “In the past year we’ve had great success in our Cambridge location and wanted to give back to the MIT and Cambridge community.  We decided to host this panel which allows our clients the opportunity to share and discuss their experiences and perspectives in intellectual property strategy” said Dr. Keegan Caldwell, Managing Member of Caldwell, who also moderated the panel.

Joining Keegan were the following Caldwell clients:

Tom O’Leary, Team Member at BETA Technologies

Jay Jacobs, Founder of RAPID and co-Founder of paperlessPARTS, Manufacturing Technology Expert and Investor

Karl Ruping, Managing Partner at incTANK Ventures

Cyrus Schenck, CEO & Founder of RENOUN

After light refreshments, the panel dove into discussions around when to pursue patents, the importance of patents and the value of an IP strategy, all from both the entrepreneur and VC perspectives.

The panel started off by revealing when they decided to get a patent.   The threat of reverse engineering the product along with protecting unique ideas were discussed as key decision points.  Filing patents early in the process “put us in a better position going forward” explained one panelist who saw a competitive threat.

From a VC perspective, having a strategy and knowledge of the patent space can increase your credibility which is a factor in the decision to invest.     Investors view IP as a “value driver” which can be converted to an asset before an exit which ultimately reduces the risk of investment.   Investors may even request speaking with your patent counsel as part of the due diligence process.

Finally, different approaches to IP strategy were discussed including offensive vs defensive strategies aimed at monetizing IP and IP portfolios.   Working with Caldwell IP, one panelist spoke of the creative ways to protect your IP during the filing process whether it be type of patent filed and/or how you craft the specifications.     Working to develop and implement an appropriate strategy with your patent counsel should be an essential part of your business strategy and can even be fun (see video below Question 5:  How are you using your IP today , what is the plan for the future? to see how)

Please see details for our next event to be held February 1st at the Venture Cafe

Follow the links for short videos answering the following questions:

Question 1:  When did you decide you needed a patent?

  • The threat of a competitor reverse engineering
  • Protecting unique ideas
  • The important of a patent strategy for the VC  

Question 2:  How critical is having a patent to getting investor $ or being acquired?

  • IP as a “value driver” which can be converted to an asset before an exit
  • Increasing your credibility by having a strategy and knowledge of the patent space
  • Must show that you have considered IP and/or have a developed strategy

Question 3:  How much do you spend on patent protection?

  • Reduction of risk by defining immediate and future IP needs
  • Developing strategies with your patent counsel which aligns with your business strategy and your investors expectations.

Question 4:  Is having IP a gating issue for getting investor $?

  • IP can become a gating issue depending on the innovation.
  • It is essential in the bio and life sciences and other crowded spaces.
  • Investor expectations at key funding points.    
  • Investors may speak with your patent counsel as part of the due diligence.

Question 5:  How are you using your IP today , what is the plan for the future?

  • Offensive vs Defensive approaches to protect IP
  • Monetizing IP and IP portfolios
  • How to build your patent portfolio and strengthen your IP around a technology.
  • To publish or not to publish? Crafting specifications to protect your IP during the filing process.

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