Is demand for your patented invention growing faster than you can afford to produce?
Have you written a new kids’ book that has a significant following, and now you want to do more with it?
Has your brand caught on with your customers and is quickly becoming recognized as the hip, cool new product in your market?
Are your professional seminars and training courses becoming so popular with clients that they’re asking if they can use them directly to train their employees?
When considering whether to license, these are just some road signs that tell you that your IP is ready for licensing.
Timing is everything when it comes to licensing. The market is dynamic, meaning it’s constantly changing. Changing technology, customer demand, legal regulations, and a score of other things are constantly changing the marketplace demand for innovation. That’s what creates the window of opportunity for your IP. And it also changes the window of opportunity for your IP because your markets, customers, and competition are constantly changing.
That’s why licensing is such an ideal strategy. It lets you strike while the iron is hot and take advantage of this limited window of opportunity. What is cold today is hot tomorrow, and vice versa.
Developing and licensing your intellectual property does take time. For example, when I worked at the studios, the big kids’ properties were not overnight hits. In many cases, it took years and decades before they became popular enough to become the licensing phenomena they are today.
Often, a slight shift in the market or use of your IP, such as a different format or application, is the difference between going nowhere and landing a big licensing deal.
That’s why keeping your intellectual property in motion is essential by doing something with it. Whether it’s test marketing, selling, making, promoting, or delivering it, you must keep tweaking and improving it so that your intellectual property is ready to take advantage of the opportunity when the market changes.
Think of it this way. Your intellectual property is the oil of innovation and that oil required by businesses and industries around the world. They are like gears, all moving around and shifting, trying to find the latest gadget and gizmo’s to meet their changing customers and markets. But they need to have the oil to continue running. That’s your intellectual property; the oil makes all of these gears run smoothly.
That’s why you must keep your IP visible in the market because it’s challenging to find which gears need your oil, especially if your intellectual property is very specialized.
For example, it might be a new patented technology that improves packaging for the hair color industry. One of my clients had been working on this IP for years. The technology wasn’t in demand 10 or 15 years ago. But the market shifted in the last five years as sustainability became a priority for many businesses, and suddenly the interest in their IP shot sky-high.
Your IP must be in motion to take advantage of that opportunity.
That’s what licensing is about – taking advantage of these trends, identifying where the markets are, where the markets are going, and how your intellectual property fits into that trend. Remember that trends are about solving problems and providing solutions, lowering costs, increasing profitability, or improving convenience.
And when you see these opportunities, the key is matching or fitting your IP to capitalize on these trends.
Sometimes you’re a little ahead of the curve, and the market hasn’t caught up with your IP. That’s OK. In this situation, keeping in motion is even more critical because the market can suddenly “catch up,” and your IP is in demand.
If your IP isn’t in motion, if it’s not available to solve the problem or oil the gears, somebody else’s will. On the other hand, if you don’t do anything with your intellectual property and sit with it while the gears are in motion when the market suddenly shifts, you’ll fall behind. At that point, it’s tough to catch up. The market doesn’t wait.
Remember, an IP in motion makes money. When the window of opportunity opens up for your intellectual property, be ready to take advantage of it.
So when you think it is the right time to license your intellectual property, think about the trends, where the market is going, what customers want, and is your intellectual property the oil needed to make those gears move.
If it is, that’s when you know it’s time to license your intellectual property.