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The IP maturity ladder and what it suggests about IP staffing and spending

Someone has proposed a taxonomy to describe corporate intellectual property departments. It has five stages, “with ‘defensive’ at the bottom rung and ‘visionary’ at the top, and ‘cost control’, ‘profit center’ and ‘integrated’ marking the steps up in between.” This categorization comes from IP Rev., Spring/Summer 2010 at 10, which refers to a white paper by Chawton Innovation Services.

If we take these five stages as meaningful, the climb up them should correspond to (a) more IP lawyers and staff as a percentage of total legal staff, (b) a larger percentage of the legal budget flowing to the patent and trademark team, and (c) direct reporting of the head IP lawyer to the general counsel, among many other characteristics. Further, the article points out, if your company wants to be at a certain stage of IP sophistication, your legal staffing and spending in support of it should match.