What these 6 businesses did right about Intellectual Property (Part 1)

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This is a guest post by Esther Wee.

1. Daikin vs Panasonic — Matching the patent portfolio to the consumer needs.

We have heard countless times that patent protection can be costly. Indeed, to reap the rewards and return of investment from your patented product, you need to ensure that your patent has actual commercial value. In other words, you must study whether there is a consumer market need and demand for such a technology.

Daikin and Panasonic are two Japanese companies that have shown increasing domestic market share of air conditioner for home use in recent years, all because they know how to match their filing of patents to what their consumers really want.

A comparative study shows that each company has exclusivity over one another on different technical aspects: Daikin has technical advantages of almost all the humidification function and some specific filter cleaning functions whilst Panasonic has technical advantages of almost all the filter cleaning function and some humidification functions.

The table below shows the number of patent filings between Daikin and Panasonic and their correlation score analysis between patent application and consumer needs.

Daikin Panasonic image 01

Daikin Panasonic image 02

The statistics show that Daikin has a higher correlation score in terms of humidification, whereas Panasonic leads the correlation score for filter cleaning and both functions. On an overall scale, it does seem that Panasonic has gained a higher market share advantage of the domestic air conditioning sector as most of their patent investment meets the consumer’s needs.

2. Coca Cola — Secrecy: A genius marketing strategy.

Coca Cola’s strategy to keep its formula a trade secret is a key point to its resilience and has proved to help it stay afloat in the shrinking and competitive soda market.

The “world’s most guarded secret” as it claims, is now kept in a purpose-built vault within the company’s headquarters in Atlanta.

So why do they opt to keep it a secret instead of patenting the formula? As patenting would require disclosure of the recipe, the Company is afraid that once the patent expires, anyone would be able to use that recipe to produce a generic version of the world famous drink.

Also, part of Coca Cola’s marketing strategy is largely built on the secrecy factor as mystery attracts attention and gives the impression of quality.

Coca cola, as a multinational company with so many employees and factories, has gone through length and breadth to protect its confidential information, claiming that only two senior executives know the formula at any given time and they are never allowed to fly on the same plane.

One thing is for sure, the whole secrecy story has definitely gave the brand lots of publicity and attention that no longer is it necessary for them to consider patenting it. Coca Cola definitely made a smart move in leveraging on the different options of Intellectual Property protection, in this case being strong in protecting their trademark and trade secret.

3. Les Copaque Productions — Converting IP assets into a total value chain of multiple businesses.

Closer to home, we see how a local brand cleverly used its trademark and copyrights to earn the company licensing royalties and expand the scope of their business.

Les Copaque Productions is a Malaysian home grown company which produces the famous cartoon character movie and TV series Upin & Ipin. The Company owns 11 trademark registration in various classes including trademark for “Upin & Ipin”, the logo of the studio’s merchandising store and the studio name itself. Besides their branding and trademarks, the company is a proud copyright owner of all their cartoon characters and stories produced.

Having their IP rights secured allowed Les Copaque to venture into licensing deals with other partners in merchandising, organising of brand awareness events and carnivals, including placing their branding on bank debit cards. All these partnerships have helped propel the brand and the company to the international stage in just a few years. The most recent plan that I have heard the company is embarking on is to build a theme park based on the cartoon characters and stories that they produce.

From merely a studio production business, the company now has multiple businesses and various streams of income purely from leveraging on its Intellectual Property rights.

You can read their full success story here.

I hope these examples will encourage you to be creative in the use of your Intellectual Property assets to complement your business strategy for growth.

Stay tuned for Part 2 for three more such business stories.

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