Customer Spotlight: How We Use IPfolio at Logitech

How does a company synonymous with a market that has peaked continue to grow? Identify emerging opportunities or create new categories, of course. An R&D program to create inventions and an IP program to protect them are requirements.


One of Logitech’s current hot sellers: the Duo-To-Go iPad case and keyboard (image source: Logitech website)

Kevin McLintock joined Logitech in May 2011 as Director of Worldwide IP to ensure it would continue to thrive, despite the decline in the computer mice and keyboard categories. A year later, his group became IPfolio’s very first customer.

On last week’s blog, Kevin discussed how he developed an IP strategy and program to support Logitech’s operations in emerging categories such as portable music, video gaming and video conferencing. In Part Two, he discusses how he uses IPfolio to execute the strategy.

Last week, you described the long process of reaching consensus and finalizing an IP strategy. How did this translate into execution in the early days?

One of the first things we did was to consolidate individual patent budgets from multiple business groups into one master budget. We created priorities across the entire company and started evaluating inventions and disclosures, and ideas against overall strategic value and priorities. Filing decisions were the result of the big picture rather than narrow business group-specific decisions.


What’s the current composition of Logitech’s IP department?

Until now, I’ve handled IP strategy and patent prosecution while a colleague has focussed on litigation. We’re adding two new attorneys to expand our capabilities in all three.


Before talking technology, how do you ensure that IP is visible in the company?

I travel a lot. We have a big R&D center in Switzerland that does R&D for probably half of our product lines. I visit every quarter to meet with the team there. My European trips also include a visit to our R&D center in Cork, Ireland. Our music group’s engineering team is in Portland. I visit them quarterly, as well. We have some manufacturing teams in Asia. I usually coordinate with them remotely because most of the manufacturing leadership is either in Newark, CA or visits often enough.


What’s the backstory before you became one of IPfolio’s first customers in late-2011?

We do all of our drafting outside. In 2011, we didn’t have any tools for directly managing document flow with outside attorneys. We had tried to develop an in-house tool to help with tracking but it was incredibly labor intensive. There was way too much copy and pasting, and I was reliant on having budget for a paralegal team to do it.


Did you create a needs analysis or project spec?

We needed process automation, visibility into the process, and access to the information inside it. The wish list was a tool that would allow us to be – in a very hands-off perspective – able to quickly display our portfolio status, understand its content, and collaborate with outside counsel on every issue we needed to.


Anything else?

We had other expectations, as well. Getting consensus and buy-in from people throughout an organization is a key element to raising the visibility and importance of IP. High on the list was the ability to create visuals and reports on our portfolio status, trends, and progress, then share them with my non-IP colleagues in the legal group, and business groups and teams. We also wanted to incentivize and recognize innovation. I wanted to formalize and manage our Inventor Awards program, and knew the right tool would be very helpful in automating it.


Have you been able to automate your IP system as you just described?

IPfolio has been exactly what I hoped it would be. I don’t need more features right now; everything that I wanted IPfolio to be able to do, it delivers. It gives me instant access to all our patent matters, wherever I am. I have dashboards for high-level overview, and by pulling up a single record, I can see the full file history and understand what has been happening at the detail level.


There are some areas where we’re not as far along as I would like. Some elements of our Inventors Awards program, for example, still need tweaking. What we do right now is to create tags and categories that serve as flags to indicate the payment status of each application. The additional changes we’d like to make are more of an implementation issue on our end, than missing functionality.


How does IPfolio fit into your day-to-day activities?

For most of 2014, I had someone in Switzerland helping me with European patent activities. We used IPfolio to collaborate on document matters. It was a very efficient way to collaborate with her. Currently, I’m the only user. I receive a huge amount of email every day, hundreds of messages from inside and outside the company. Many of them are outside counsel updates on office actions or similar activities.


IPfolio has some very helpful routing features to automatically update records. I can create a new record associated with a unique ID. Whenever our outside law firms (or anyone else) wants to update the record, they add the ID to the email subject line. This automation works flawlessly unless there are typos in the subject line or someone sends emails into the system before I’ve created a record. Getting it right is a bit of an adjustment for some law firms, but they generally do after a short while, and as a result I have current records without ever having to worry about filing documents that I receive into the right place.


Overall, where do you find value in IPfolio?

Logitech is a $2 Billion dollar company. Our patent prosecution and IP strategy team is very small so anything that saves time and improves outcomes is valuable. IPfolio has done that. It’s delivered a lot of benefit to us; from visibility and transparency, to process and task automation.

Many thanks to Kevin for spending the time with us. If it wasn’t abundantly clear, he’s a really busy guy. When he’s not managing IP, he manages three young children with his spouse. He’s not sure which is more challenging.

IP Strategy Q&A: How We Developed Our IP Program at Logitech

If your IP career trajectory includes a future as in-house counsel, you’ll have opportunities to join companies with organized programs, and ground-floor opportunities to formalize a program. Kevin McLintock signed up for the latter when he joined Logitech in May 2011 as Director of Worldwide IP.

If you used a desktop computer after 1990, you’ve probably touched a Logitech product. Founded in the early 1980s in southwestern Switzerland, Logitech became one of the world’s top computer peripheral brands as desktop computing and mice and keyboards invaded businesses and homes. By December 2008, it had manufactured over one billion mice.

The explosion of mobile computing, however, requires fewer mice and keyboards so Logitech has branched out. Kevin’s mandate since arriving has been to align IP strategy and program execution to support expansion into emerging categories such as wireless music speakers, videoconferencing and video game controllers. We sat down with him to discuss his role in the company.

Kevin McLintock Logitech

Kevin McLintock, Logitech’s Director of Worldwide Patent and IP Strategy

What was it like when you first arrived?

Logitech’s revenues the year before I joined were very close to $2 Billion. Despite the company’s size and history of product innovation, there was no collective IP strategy. I knew this, of course. Building a formal program from the ground up was a big part of what interested me as an IP professional. Logitech was almost a greenfield opportunity.


What was Logitech’s IP history up till then?

We’d been filing patents for 20 plus years in a very ad hoc way. Each business group was independently responsible for deciding what they filed their patents on. Their budgets were based on their contribution to total companywide revenue. Mice and keyboards made most of the money for the company so mice and and keyboards got the biggest chunk of money to spend on patents.


The business groups could figure out, and did figure out on their own, what to file for, but they were just protecting products that we were creating and releasing. Back then, we had an attorney, not a patent attorney, but a corporate attorney who helped guide Logitech’s patent filings. She tried to do some strategic work but there was always partition across the business groups. There was no cohesive strategy for the company. Engineers could just call the outside counsel and say, “Let’s file a patent on this because it is new and interesting.” The outside counsel would then draft the application and continue to file until the budget ran out.


My arrival was the first time in the company’s history that they had an experienced patent professional focussed on creating an IP strategy.


How did you start the process?

The foundation of any IP program is an IP strategy. Before you figure out the how and what, you need to agree on the why. The purpose of IP for us at Logitech is really freedom to operate. It is our primary goal right now. Freedom to operate applies to current products and forward-looking opportunities. It’s a balance of protecting our current revenue sources and where we foresee as future opportunities.


You need to file patents that will allow you to operate in both. They may be on products that you would make, patents based on competitive products, and patents to pursue cross-licensing opportunities.


Finally, you need to consider developing a portfolio for defensive flexibility if someone else takes issue with your products. A strong portfolio is a massive asset if you have to negotiate your way out of it.


What did you do first? I assume it was a group effort, with input from strategic planning, sales, R&D and engineering?

Yes. Our first priority was securing agreement and buy-in across the entire company. What should our priorities be? We can’t possibly file on every idea from every group because something is important for a small category or product. You have to look more globally when prioritizing. We did this by using a four-step process:


1. Current Products and Markets

We needed to protect current operations. This meant filing patents, utility applications on the basics of what we’re doing, design patents covering specific products, and foreign patents for manufacturing and geographic markets. We also filed to ensure we had the right number in each category.


2. Forward-Looking Opportunities

We had to protect forward-looking areas. What did we think we were going to be doing in 3-5 years? We analyzed potential future markets and the seed IP we might need to expand into them.


3. Future Markets Where We May Not be Active

Another important step is to think about future markets from the perspective of simple R&D. Are there inventions we could patent now that we might not develop into products? Could they be interesting and attractive to competitors in the future?


4. Future Enforcement

In every prospective future product area, you have to think offense and defense. What could we do to maximize our future options to take action against someone else or be able to defend if someone takes action against us? This often means determining the right number of patents.


How important is consensus when finalizing strategy?

Implementing an IP strategy is so much easier if everyone is on board. Consensus when finalizing your IP strategy ensures a less contentious future. When our business group leaders agreed on what was important and strategically significant, they understood that we’d prioritize future decisions based on this strategy. People could then understand, for example, that perhaps we wouldn’t file any patents from the video business group, for the next six months, because we were prioritising other ideas from other groups based on the filing priority that everyone had agreed to.


One more comment about strategy. Know that you will have to update it. Any mobile phone IP strategy written in 2006, for example, would have been woefully out-of-date by 2009 following the introduction of iPhone. The iPhone arrived in 2007. It was an instant success. Many assumptions that seemed so perfectly logical in 2006 proved to be completely wrong.


What were some of the changes that you felt were critically important for Logitech?

Our portfolio was very dense, covering very product-specific implementations. We needed to transition away from that approach. To do it, we needed everyone to understand the importance of creating more meaningful IP. We started shifting our filing strategy from filing to protect specific products to covering more fundamental platforms and more forward-looking ideas. This is, of course, what everyone expects from IP, but it’s often hard to implement if you don’t have the big picture.

1980s Logitech Mouse

An early Logitech mouse from the 1980s

Next week, we’ll talk to Kevin about how Logitech’s IP strategy guides tactical execution and how he uses IPfolio to manage his portfolio.

Why It’s Time for Legal to Embrace the Cloud – Part II

Two weeks ago, in Part I of this post, we covered some Cloud Computing 101 and started to discuss how switching to the cloud increases business agility and cost efficiency, thus creating positive ROI. We also busted some popular myths about data security and availability in the Cloud. Now, let’s dive a bit deeper into the benefits, specifically for corporate IP/Legal departments.

Benefits of the Cloud

Generally, the only logical reason to move forward with one technology over another is because the pros outweigh the cons, and you’re realistically confident the implementation will generate a positive ROI. Plenty of cloud deployments have delivered just this in recent years as the switch to SaaS has created overall process efficiencies by enabling businesses to embrace a “better, faster and cheaper” reality.

You don’t have to search far to find a calculator or methodology to model the numbers generated by this reality. Whether you need a simple or complex model to convince the decision makers, the benefits of the cloud have been increasingly apparent in years. Here are some of the benefits that should convince even the most sceptical CFO, CIO or CEO:

Total Cost of Ownership

Even using a back-of-the-envelope method, the Total Cost of Ownership (TOC) calculation will fall in the cloud’s favor vs. on-premise. Avoiding hardware and software license costs and overhead related to internal IT administration alone will usually aggregate into clear TOC benefits over traditional software implementations, even before you start quantifying the efficiencies that will lead to doing more with less internally as well as reduce your bills with outside counsel.


Anytime, anywhere access to real-time information is one of the productivity boosts that the cloud delivers. As long as you can connect information to the Internet, you should be able to realize important productivity savings. You can be anywhere, the information can be anywhere, and those with whom you need to share the information can be anywhere. You don’t need to worry about network access or VPN configuration. Log on, log in and start working.

This is especially valuable as the world’s workforce becomes more mobile and less centralized. Tens of millions telecommute whole or in part every week. Millions of organizations use contractors. Telecommuting and external contracting are two areas that are much more viable and effective due to cloud options.

Streamlined Processes

Process improvement can be a huge benefit, one large enough to alone justify the selection and implementation of a cloud-based system. With an increasingly globalized workforce, facilitating effective communication and collaboration across a large organization with multiple sites around the globe is much easier than in the pre-cloud world.


Companies migrating to the cloud typically experience a much shorter time-to-value. This means that they begin to see and quantify material returns and benefits very quickly once they go live.

What Happens to an IP Organization that Leverages the Cloud?

While the Cloud isn’t the cure-all for everything ailing a company, it certainly delivers myriad benefits as outlined above. There is a growing body of evidence, a.k.a. real-world examples, of how legal departments in large and small organizations are doing more with less after opting for the Cloud and selecting a SaaS offering to manage their IP-related information and activities.

Here are a few examples of what companies using IPfolio have been able to do:

1. Improving Strategic Visibility

At a high level, the Cloud has enabled companies to connect IP assets (such as patents, brands, trademarks, and copyrights) to products, geographies, markets, and revenue streams. Having visibility into the entire IP portfolio enables strategic decision-making to keep the IP portfolio aligned with the development of your company’s products and markets.

2. Data that You Can Trust, at Your Fingertips

Say adieu to spreadsheets with dozens of tabs and worksheets. Start enjoying data integrity that will allow you to efficiently produce reports for management, administer your inventor awards program, and keep track of prosecution milestones and costs, as well as all related documents.

This is particularly important in fast-moving industries, where employees involved in the decision about filing a patent are not unlikely to move on to their next gig before the patent even issues. When deciding about a renewal, many years after the patent was filed, it can be invaluable to have proper documentation at hand about all the factors involved in earlier decisions.

3. Managing Access for External Parties

A SaaS tool like IPfolio makes collaboration with external patent attorneys and fellow employees in distant locales as simple as providing and managing access to the information they need. Everyone gets the right level of access to online IP records, which are immediately updated with changes viewable by everyone. You can instantly enable or disable permissions for specific groups of users. You have control. They have access.

4. Tracking Ideas From Invention to Outcome

With a cloud-based Inventor Portal and Review Board, it is easy to track and monitor the evolution of an IP asset from the invention stage through to the issued patent, as well as the commercial product(s) the patent protects, and keep the inventors engaged all along the process.

Are You Ready for Your Test Drive?

The Cloud has arrived. Legal departments shouldn’t let their finance, sales, marketing, HR and operations peers reap all the benefits. The same data access, accountability, pain point relief, and efficiency gains that make it so much easier to focus on what matters most are well within reach of the legal org chart.

We have to ask, of course. If you’d like to see what the Cloud and IPfolio could do for your IP portfolio, why not take it for a spin.

Your test drive keys await. Contact us to pick them up.

Silicon Valley IP Leaders Gather at IPforward Conference

June 26, 2015

“If you’re going to get into a fight, you want to have at least 10 patents that you can assert.”


“In the Valley, many software engineers consider themselves IP open sourcers.”


“At my first meeting with the senior management team, the CTO said he hates patents.”


“If you can spend the money to file a patent, you can spend the money to reward inventors.”


“Fixed-fee arrangements with outside counsel are a stupid idea.”

These are just a handful of the nuggets thrown out yesterday by speakers at our first IPforward conference in San Mateo, an event focused on the business side of IP.

Attendees, who came from a half-dozen states for a great turnout, heard from IP experts driving strategy at companies including Bio-Rad, Logitech, Quixey, Square, Workday, Zynga, and more. Individual presentations were bookmarked by lively panel discussions and lots of active participation from a great audience made up of almost 90% in-house counsel. Companies represented ranged from startups to Silicon Valley icons like Google, Facebook and Yahoo.

IPforward networking break

IP Strategy, Culture, and Collaboration

Lisa McFall, Deputy General Counsel for Intellectual Property at Workday, kicked off the sessions with her presentation on Defining Your IP Strategy and Selling it to the C-Suite. She laid out a framework for creating the right portfolio with a clarity that drew raves from the audience. Lisa’s presentation also included much-appreciated hands-on, real-life examples of success stories as well as cautionary tales.

Teddy Joe, who clearly has the coolest title in the IP world – Mayor of Patentville – is Zynga’s senior IP counsel. His Selling the [idea of the] Patent Portfolio talk included lots of food for thought on getting the message out within the company, as well as details on how an IPfolio-driven Inventor Portal has raised participation by the engineering team.

Quixey, which is probably one of the Valley’s fastest growing startups, loaned us its VP of IP Taher Savliwala for the morning. In his talk on Building your IP Dream Team, Taher provided a play-by-play account of how he uses outside contractors to really stretch his IP budget with incredible efficiency and ROI. He certainly opened people’s eyes about the possibilities to outsource patent drafting work in very intelligent and unconventional ways, prompting the comment “you are a genius” from a Chief IP Counsel in the audience.

Overwhelming Feedback

With 85% of the participants in our post-event survey rating IPforward “Excellent” and the remaining 15% giving us “Very Good” marks, everyone seems to agree that IPforward was a fantastic opportunity for both networking and earning CLE credits. The positive feedback continues to pour in, and we can’t help but share some comments made after the sessions and in response to the survey:

“It was a home run – everyone engaged and great information passed along.”


“Relevant and full of people that are handling the same issues so that we can all help each other out.”


“Very sophisticated and thought provoking.”


“The conference was hitting on many topics that are real issues for me now.”


“The presenters were bringing a very in-house perspective and were approaching problems from a non-conventional direction.”


“Better than any of the recent ‘big’ IP conferences I have attended.”


“The speakers did an excellent job of providing practical advice, with detailed examples.”


“Probably the best IP conference I have been to.”


“It was invaluable!”

Of course, there are some learnings as well with this first-time event format, the most important being that 30 minutes are too short for a panel with a broad topic, great speakers and an engaged audience. There will certainly be a next time to incorporate the suggestions for improvements we have received.

A big Thank You from the IPfolio team to all those who participated and made it great, and to the Silicon Valley Innovation Center for hosting us. It has been our honor to facilitate this dialog.

Why It’s Time for Legal to Embrace the Cloud – Part I

The Era of Cloud Computing

The Internet has clearly been the primary driving force in software evolution for the past decade. Cloud computing is one of the most visible results. Due to the rapid pace of hosting, availability and security innovation, adoption of cloud computing is frankly booming. In fact, it would be difficult to argue that cloud computing hasn’t been one of the biggest changes in both personal and business computing since the World Wide Web started its path to ubiquity in the mid-90s.

Adjectives like nimble, flexible, accessible, dependable, scalable, easy-to-use, and, of course, cost-effective are often used – and not just by vendors’ marketing departments – to characterize the post-deployment experience. The cloud has enabled companies willing to adopt SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offerings to outsource increasingly critical parts of their IT infrastructure. This choice frees up oft-limited IT resources for innovation, while enabling them to leverage core competencies. The net result is more attention on what they do best.

It Began with Consumers

Many consider the growth of the consumer cloud, driven by Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter and others, as catalysts for the awareness, acceptance and adoption of business-oriented cloud options. As the consumer cloud has boomed, the concerns of many management and technical staff, in particular, have dissipated amidst the rising adoption inside large corporations of SaaS-centric vendors like Salesforce, Evernote, Atlassian, and ZenDesk.

Cloud Traction Within the Enterprise

With cloud offerings having crossed the threshold for adoption across the enterprise, here are some of the areas, formerly fiefdoms of on-premise software, where the cloud has made inroads; HR, Sales, Marketing, Operations (areas such as order and inventory management), Finance (from payroll outsourcing to easier regulatory compliance), as well as Legal applications (e.g. contract automation, enterprise risk management, and IP management).

IT departments have embraced the cloud for multiple reasons: from driving efficiency, productivity, and growth, to improving employee experience and ensuring post-disaster recovery. Additionally, any department using remote staff or whose staff is mobile and frequently out of the office is a good prospect.

Not everyone is convinced, though. Sometimes a little FUD (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt) take hold.

Don’t Believe The FUD: Cloud Computing Myths

A pro-cloud argument would be incomplete without busting some of the myths that prevent people from taking a close look and improving their business processes. While satisfying your availability, scalability, data security, and user acclimation concerns is logical, don’t let assumptions about them prevent you from even asking questions. Here are some of the myths.

Availability and Uptime

One of the most common concerns, it’s obvious to both users and providers. If you can’t access the application, you’re stuck. SaaS vendors invest a huge amount of resources to ensure that you can reach their applications reliably and consistently because their entire business model depends on it. The result is that unplanned downtime is a rare occurrence for enterprise-worthy applications that typically deliver availability rates exceeding 99.9%.

The Learning Curve

Whenever a company adopts a new technology or application, the learning curve can be steep and productivity impacted. SaaS can be easily rolled out progressively to prevent long period of inertia as employees struggle to become productive. Upgrades to most SaaS applications are frequent and iterative, which prevents productivity losses when massive upgrades radically change an application UI or UX. Who hasn’t experienced this in the past?


Adding new users, offices, suppliers and customers shouldn’t be an impediment to growth.  When you’re researching software vendors, including SaaS options, ask about how they handle growth – primarily yours, not theirs. A key reason why the cloud handles scalability well is that there is a common, cost-effective infrastructure in which the individual companies and users benefit from the investment in an entire platform and application. SaaS revenue models are frequently based on the number of user accounts, so ensuring that customers can grow their user accounts is a requirement for any SaaS vendor to be successful.

Data Security

The data security issue is similar to availability – it’s a fundamental requirement without which a SaaS vendor will shut its doors. Vendors must adhere to a plethora of industry best practices to grow. They consequently invest a lot in security people, processes and technology to protect their servers and data paths.


Stability, the likelihood that a vendor will be in business next month or next year, and able to service its customer base, is something you need to investigate. It shouldn’t imperil any SaaS implementation plans unless the vendor fails the same due diligence you would pursue with any vendor. This means researching non-trivial issues such as financial strength, market leadership and traction, history of innovation and customer successes, as well as some of the issues listed earlier, like stability and security history.

Generally speaking, the SaaS model provides a better foundation for a vendor’s long-term stability than the traditional software licensing model. In the traditional model, the vendor receives a significant amount of money upfront for the software license, and only a relatively small ongoing maintenance fee for providing customer support and software updates. When sales of new licenses slow, such as in an economic downturn, the vendor can become financially challenged. The recurring revenue model of SaaS provides more stability, as well as more incentive for the vendor to stay invested into the customers’ success.

Ready to bust these cloud myths? Do your research. Organize what you learn. Get serious about researching how the cloud can help your Legal/IP department increase efficiency and productivity. How you could finally abandon that unloved docketing system that you have been stuck with since the 1990’s and gain more independence from your corporate IT department, all while lowering your total cost of ownership.

We’ll tackle the specific benefits of managing your IP assets in the cloud in Part Two of this post.