In their work on Fuzzy Front End processes, Yonghee Cho and his colleagues were able to identify techniques which can help with IP evaluation and selection in the fuzzy front end (FFE) of new product development (NPD) process. Based upon 300 companies in US based electronic manufacturing firms they found the criteria listed in the “Key FFE IP Decision Criteria” figure the most important for evaluation of whether or not to patent early stage technologies.
Further, a multi-criteria weighted scoring model was employed to help with the patent decision process. The weights and scoring are shown in the “FFE IP Scoring Model” figure. The weights are from a US-based electronics manufacturing firm. Note that because this is for use during the Fuzzy Front End of innovation factors that related to intrinsic patent value over-ride those that deal with business use.
In using this method it is important to use both internal and external experts in the scoring process. Also important is to adjust the scoring weights to account for the business processes of the company. For example, if a company has a licensing department the degree of fit to the company would be weighted less than if no out-licensing of art is supported by the organization. Likewise, if individual patents serve as a key barrier to competitive business pressure, business fit is important, vs. if defensive positions are maintained by simply patent portfolio size.