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Reward systems for inventors, and their knock-on effect for in-house patent lawyers

In a company that patents inventions frequently, the legal department can improve many aspects of its contribution to that process. Lawyers can educate clients (See my post of May 10, 2006: Kraft Foods.), use technology (See my post of March 1, 2007 #2: Honeywell’s online tool.), take part in IP management groups (See my post of Feb. 1, 2006: Avery Dennison and Honeywell.), and streamline activities (See my post of Oct. 10, 2006: Avery Dennison.).

Meanwhile, companies can spur on inventors by offering them cash and non-cash awards. According to K&L Gates’ ad in Inside Counsel, Feb. 2008 at 90, American Express rolled out a reward system for inventors as part of its aggressive program to apply for hundreds of patents a year. Other companies have similarly plied their creative types with inducements (See my posts of March 8, 2006: International Truck & Engine; Oct. 10, 2006: Dial Corp.; July 25, 2007: Halliburton; and Jan. 27, 2006: Hewlett-Packard, cash and other forms of encouragement.). The company picks up the tab, but the in-house patent lawyers pick up the additional work (See my post of Aug. 5, 2007: law departments can influence the patent load.).