What Are They Doing?

2013/6/6By Kevin Nie, China IP Magazine,[Comprehensive Reports]

Having read the previous article, you may have a rough understanding on the working scope of IP managers as well as their education and working background. But what exactly they are doing still remains unclear to outsiders.
 
Rugged Road for Pioneers
From 2001 until now, Chen Luchang has witnessed the entire IP development process of Sany from being one person to maturing into a “three levels management system.”
In 2001, when Mr. Chen became a professional practitioner in IP management, he had to fight alone. His main responsibility was to establish a patent regulatory framework which included patent liaison system, patent application and incentive measures etc. The establishment task required a lot of comprehensive and detailed investigation as well as research which had greatly helped his management afterwards.
Sany’s patent search and analysis was gradually developing since 2003. In 2004, the company had constructed a patent information database on its Intranet. From then on, it began to regularly track its competitors’ patent information in the engineering machinery industry and took measures thereby. At present, the company does not only possess advanced patent information database and patent analysis system, but also has built a scientific and effective patent alert system which is able to collect real-time patent information and conduct various kinds of patent analysis including applications, patent infringement, citation analysis and patent mapping. Therefore, it can keep a close watch on its competitors’ movements and give guidelines to R&D staff accordingly; moreover it can make good preparation when the company meets some damaging patents which may influence or prevent its development.
With the strong support of innovation and development policy, Sany’s IP system was completed. In 2008, its IP department was formally set up and developed into a wellorganized management system with three levels including patent committee, IP department, business unit academies. At the supervision level, the patent committee in charges of formulating strategic policies; the IP department is responsible for standardization, process flow and guidance work in detail, and meanwhile also undertakes the company’s IP evaluation and operation work; business unit academies perform the detailed work, with each academy’s own full-time or parttime IP specialists.
 
The Importance of Basic Work
Chen Yuanqing, Patent Senior Manager of Lenovo (Beijing) Co., Ltd. (Lenovo) upholds a low key style in working. She described her career path with modesty and compared it with water. Her resume seems quite simple: she acquired a bachelor in Information Management from Beijing Jiaotong University, then studied Law in China University of Political Science and Law, she had internship at Lenovo before graduation and bagan work there after graduation. She has held several posts successively in the Patent Center from 2001 until now, including Patent Supervisor, Patent Senior Supervisor, Patent Management Manager and Patent Management Senior Manager. She has 12 years of working experience but has worked for only a single company.
Ms. Chen handles almost all patent related work, such as exploring and developing the innovative point of a product precisely, writing and polishing a highly valued patent, predicting and evaluating the patent risks, solving cases, making the R&D department and product department satisfied with her team’s work. Among all types of work, she attaches the most value to the patent process operation work.
She has her own interpretation of the process operation work, “Process operation work seems minor and fundamental in the eyes of some agencies or companies, which I totally disagree with. If you compare patent work to a necklace, the process operation work is the string of the necklace. Its importance cannot be seen until the string is broken.” It was the process operation work which helped Ms. Cheng to evaluate the gains and losses of patent exploring and writing through the review status of the single patent, interpreted the whole development status of IP business through concrete IP statistics, and analyzed the value of a patent by calculating the input and output. Two years of process operation work enabled her to see things from a more comprehensive and macroscopic perspective which laid a solid foundation for her entering management.
 
Comprehensive Employment Training
Speaking of employment training, Zhao Jie introduced BYD’s practice, “I had only a few colleagues when I joined BYD’s IP department, and we participated in the training held by the Patent Offices at all levels at that time. When the IP department grew bigger, we invited teachers to the company. The newly enrolled employees are divided into two categories: one is focusing on IP work, another is doing IP related work or their work has certain connections with IP. About the first category, for employees in the first category have science and engineering education backgrounds, their trainings are mainly in IP law and regulation. They can start working after one month of training, and with the help of other senior staff they are able to work independently within three month. If problems accrue, they can solve them by group study and discussion. I personally believe that taking patent attorney examination can motivate the systematic study of patent. No matter what the examination result is, one can have a good grasp of the patent knowledge systematically as long as he/she studies attentively. For the second category, they are trained in basic legal and IP knowledge. For example, what IP related legal issues should my colleagues from the marketing department pay special attention to when they plan to explore new markets? what IP problems may occur when the purchasing staff are doing business with suppliers? The answers to such questions could be found in the individual training which focus more on the application level.”
 
Global Patent Layout
Wang Haibo told China IP that for 12 years he has held the same position in the same department of the same company and his work does not have any major changes except in its depth and scope. In his 12 years work, ZTE’s and IP strategy and business focus have been changed and adjusted several times. His work focus has gradually transferred from basic business such as patent application and copyright registration to management-centered work such as IP strategy planning and promoting. Besides IP management, IP litigation, licensing negotiation and asset management are also his working focus.
In 2000, when Mr. Wang was an ordinary member of staff in ZTE’s IP department, he and his colleagues set a goal of increasing patent applications. One major assessment indicator of employees was the number of explored patents. They have to constantly communicate with R&D staff to explore and develop new patents.
ZTE’s IP strategy was generated in the wars with its competitors. Mr. Wang revealed that ZTE lacked the awareness of building an overall strategy in the preliminary stage, which left room for overseas competitors to claim patent licensing fees from it. Therefore, since he took charge of the IP department, he became concerned about the patent layout, and had formally presented the notion of “patent layout” in 2004. During that period, ZTE had accumulated a lot of IP assets quietly without catching the attention of the international giants.
The IP assets of ZTE greatly increased in 2007, IP management was in urgent need when the costs of IP had greatly increased. Thus patent operation was on the agenda. ZTE advocates IP asset management in the whole procedure, from R&D to patent application. Mr. Wang introduced that its IP team has grown from a couple of staff to hundreds. The company’s IP department, which is structured based on business contents and regions, contains business section, licensing section, operation section, planning section, general section and Europe & America division.
Currently it has 150 IP employees with clear work divisions including patent application management, IP risk management, IP licensing operation and IP business competition etc. Each R&D department has a particular patent engineer to explore patent and complete the application.
Besides patent engineer, IP managers also belong to the law department. They have a communications technology professional background, meanwhile are familiar with IP laws and regulations. They are allocated in the field and are in charge of exploring and examining the innovation results, applying patents based on company’s operation strategy & patent layout, and constructing company’s IP assets. At present, every IP manager files over one hundred patent applications and examines hundreds of patents as well.
 
From Inferiority to Superiority
Feitian Technologies Co., Ltd. (Feitian) entered into the North American market in early 2005, but was sued by its competitor abroad who was already famous within the industry. Feitian was asked to pay a great deal of royalty for a patent. It actively responded to the suit when finding the plaintiff lacked grounds and required unreasonably high royalty, although the company was founded for only 7 years. Feitian finally won the case after 4 years of litigation. It learned a lesson from this experience and realized the importance of IP. Feitian energetically strengthened its IP business and established its own IP team. It was during this time that Gong Chaohong joined Feitian.
Ms. Gong’s IP experience was almost nonexistent at the very beginning, and now in her early thirties, she has already become Feitian’s IP manager and is in charge of the company’s IP business.
She holds a very optimistic view on IP managers. With a growing number of IP litigations in the future, IP wars between competitors will become more intensified, and Chinese enterprises will pay more attention to IP. She hopes one day in the future, when Feitian faces IP disputes, she can lead her team to not only win the case but also make profits for the company. It is the only way to test the strength of the team.
 
Profound Level of Work
 Different from his peers, Yang Xuri has a special title of “Intellectual Capital Director” which reveals the unique feature of IP management philosophy of the Peking University Founder Group. As the company’s Intellectual Property & Intellectual Capital Director, he has his own interpretation on IP and intellectual capital management.
He holds that the value of IP as intangible assets is underestimated in China currently and cannot be recognized by the market during transformation. As for the financial system, Chinese Accounting Principles restrain the capitalization of self-developed IP, and in addition IP has its distinguished characteristics and rules which prevent IP from naturally being the company’s assets. Intangible assets can hardly increase in value and be managed through simple financial means. There are only two ends for these IP assets: vanish without any trace or lose the trust of people because of overstatement.
According to his analysis, in order to achieve effective IP and intellectual capital management and ensure maintenance and increment, a scientific intellectual capital management system must be established. Mr. Yang suggested that under the current situation in which intellectual capital is underestimated, a series of processes should be comprised in the scientific management method, including intellectual capital manufacture, registration, evaluation, remising, renting and buying shares; and different levels of status should be included in the capitalization mode, such as taking IP as assets or shareholdings. During the transformation process, special attention should be paid to make sure that the different status lives up to different rules accordingly.
 
(Translated by Emily Tan)
 
 

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