A Matter of Out of the Box Innovation

Feb 22, 2019

In the arena of invention and innovation, IP typically means ‘intellectual property’ – a subject near and dear to my heart as a patent attorney and innovation strategist. The basic categories of intellectual property include patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret or proprietary know-how.

Most entrepreneurs give in to the temptation of early pigeon-holing, or boxing-in their ideas. I encourage innovators not to catalog their ideas too early in the process. Having ideas without the urge to pigeonhole them prematurely is key. At the early stage in the life of an idea, I recommend only the most general frames:

  • distinctive instead of patentable
  • expressive instead of copyright
  • identifiable or recognizable instead of trademark
  • your secret sauce instead of trade secret

I coined the term ‘IP unplugged’ to get away from this tendency to  label ideas rather than have them. IP Unplugged is an ideation process for deepening your understanding of your idea’s potential – while resisting the urge to catalog it.

While it is true that IP stands for ‘intellectual property’, in the spirit of IP Unplugged, I offer a few fun alternatives to the acronym.

If you must think about IP at this early stage, then for the time being, think of IP as meaning one, or all, of the following:

  • Interesting Perspectives’
  • Intriguing Predicaments’
  • Investigating Paradigms’
  • Inverting Paradoxes’
  • Interior Positions’
  • Invigorating Panorama’
  • Imaginative Picture’

Try these or other IP phases that you and your team find inspirational. In fact, may I recommend a quick round of “Unplug your IP” as an exercise to change perspective on your ideas? I find that perspective-shifting (which I describe in more detail in the post A Matter of Looking Up Innovation) is a helpful tool throughout the ideation process, from inception to commercialization or introduction to a market.

IP Unplugged is an ideation process for deepening understanding of your idea’s potential.

I.P. Unplugged. Out of the box. Still fresh squeezed.

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Here’s to you and all your out of the box innovations!

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