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Rembrandts in the Attic: Unlocking the Hidden Value of Patents [Hardcover]

Kevin G. Rivette , David Kline
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 15 1999
From "Forbes" and "Fortune" to the "Wall Street Journal" and "Harvard Business Review", the pundits are calling it the next corporate strategy challenge: how to use patents and other intellectual property not just as legal tools but as weapons of business competition. With "Rembrandts in the Attic", authors Kevin Rivette and David Kline provide the first practical and strategic guide that shows CEOs and other managers how to unlock the enormous financial and competitive power hidden in their patent portfolios. Writing engagingly and citing numerous case studies, the authors warn that firms can no longer ignore the growing power of patents in business competition. The competitive battles once fought for control of markets and raw materials are today increasingly being waged over the exclusive rights to new ideas and innovations. Where once executives may have feared that their competitors might out-market or out-produce them, they must now be concerned that rivals - especially in the booming e-commerce sectors of the Internet - may secure exclusive patent rights to the essential technologies or even to the fundamental business concepts that they need to be in business in the first place. "Rembrandts in the Attic" lifts the veil of secrecy surrounding the use of patents in business competition today, showing how some of the world's most successful firms - market leaders such as Intel and Microsoft, Lucent and Gillette, IBM, and Priceline.com - have used patents to capture and defend markets, outflank rivals, boost bottom-line revenues and shareholder return, and enhance the commercial success of their enterprises. "Rembrandts in the Attic" is a superb strategy guide that demonstrates the cross-functional value companies can gain by using patents and the gold mine of competitive intelligence that they contain. The book will enable readers to map out technology trends and convergences, uncover the strategies and capabilities of friends and foes alike, and strengthen the competitive efforts of every functional unit in the enterprise, from R&D and marketing to finance, human resources, and mergers and acquisitions. CEOs will learn how to use the authors' patent-enhanced 'Grow-Fix-Sell triage' to help them better allocate corporate resources and build a higher growth portfolio of businesses. R&D managers can employ the authors' 'IP-3' strategy to help build category-leading products, amplify the branding and marketing efforts devoted to them, and secure the key 'choke points' that sustain their product or service advantage. And business development executives will discover how to use patents as competitive intelligence tools to uncover the most attractive M&A opportunities, strengthen valuation and due diligence efforts, and configure asset sales and transfers to greatest advantage. If patents are the 'smart bombs' of tomorrow's business wars, then "Rembrandts in the Attic" is the definitive guide to deploying them for profit and competitive advantage.

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If you think patents are just about protecting inventions such as the film projector, you're missing the big picture. Now that ideas can be protected--for example, Priceline.com's business model--patents can be wielded to intimidate competitors, uncover their strategies, capture market segments, and, for many companies, generate millions in licensing revenues. Whether patented ideas will ultimately help or hinder innovation is still under debate (see Owning the Future). In Rembrandts in the Attic, however, authors Kevin Rivette and David Kline get down to business, offering practical advice for competing in today's intellectual property arena.

Their advice ranges from the simple to the sublime. First, they suggest, take stock of the patents you already own. Many companies are sitting on unused patents that could be worth millions. For example, IBM licensed its unused patents in 1990, and saw its royalties jump from $30 million a year to more than $1 billion in 1999, providing over one-ninth of its yearly pretax profits. And if you can't find buyers for your unused patents, then look for companies that are infringing upon them--companies that might owe you a piece of their profits. Rivette and Kline offer "patent mining" techniques to spot such potential infringers that can also reveal where your competitors are headed and help you get there before they do. Overall, Rembrandts in the Attic is a crafty and practical guide for companies that may have untapped riches in storage. --Demian McLean


"Rembrandts serves as a simple but useful primer for the CEO who knows that it's time to make patenting a significant part of the company's strategy, but isn't quite sure how or where to begin. The book nicely outlines how executives can start implementing an intellectual property strategy, how to grow it and what pitfalls to avoid.... The book regales in recounting numerous ongoing intellectual property battles. As a result, Rembrandts mercifully turns the generally dull topic of patenting into a fairly exciting read." -- Electronic Business, January 2000

"Along with the proliferation of new patents, it seems, comes a proliferation of new patents books. The one with perhaps the best shot at the business best-seller list is Rembrandts in the Attic.... The authors, Kevin G. Rivette and David Kline, emphasize the strategic importance of intellectual property by giving example upon example in which patents (or their lack) have been crucial to the fortunes of such companies as Texas Instruments and Kodak." -- The New York Times, October 25, 1999

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This book is about intellectual property (IP), once considered the most boring subject in the world. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
Spellbinding. I laughed. I wept. How could Xerox PARC miss a $500,000,000 patent opportunity in the graphical user interface? Easy, they didn't recognize that someone else might have a use for something they had no use for. Yes, I laughed and I cried.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A book on why you should have an IP strategy Jan. 16 2001
This well written book will convince you that an IP strategy is important. If you have some "entry-level" understanding of the strategic concepts related to IP, this book will be of little help. The concepts presented are of interest but they are presented from a superficial perspective. For instance, the concept of IP map is interesting and is accessible from one of the author's consulting firm...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Rembrandts and Understanding the New Economy Oct. 26 2000
I would like to put Rembrandts into the context in which it was created. Rembrandts was conceived and co-authored by my friend and business partner of the past 15 years, Kevin Rivette. We co-founded Aurigin Systems,Inc., formerly SmartPatents, Inc., in 1992 to make it easier for people working with patents to do their work. From this beginning Aurigin and, particularly, Rembrandts, have helped transform the way intellectual property(IP) is viewed in the business community. Historically, IP was viewed strictly as a legal right, but Rembrandts shows why, in a knowledge-based economy, IP rights are one of the most fundamental business assets, that often determines the success or failure of an enterprise. Understanding the fundamental importance of IP and why it needs to be strategically managed are the underpinnings of Rembrandts. Using the book as a guide post and Aurigin's innovation asset management solutions, allows companies to: 1) understand the IP rights they own; 2) visualize how those rights fit into the competitive landscape with others' IP; 3) help determine where to place their future R&D efforts; and 4)help decide how to strategically leverage their IP rights to help determine their new business directions, increase return on investment and, ultimately, increase shareholder value. The purpose of Rembrandts was not to set forth a cookbook of how to manage IP. Rather, the book was intended to help CEOs and other business, accounting and legal professionals understand the fundamental function and purpose of IP as a highly protectable and leverageable business asset in today's economy, whether in an old-economy or a new-economy company. Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars Patents as a form of token Aug. 15 2000
A fine book written by good story tellers. It described how patents can be used as an asset, or even as a kind of currency, an exchange token, but it lacks depth.
I am interested in Apple's failure to manage its IP. While Xerox was forced to license their photocopy technologies, Apple was doomed because they failed to license their Macintosh user interface to other developers. They have always been a hardware company. They sell underpowered and overpriced plastic cases with miserable circuits. They could have license the look-and-feel to all system builders, and let the Macintosh UI become a _de facto_ standard, but they haven't. While they were making easy money, Microsoft's Windows dominates the market, few people ever know how fun it could be to use a well-designed interface. Nobody follows Macintosh interface today.
And now they have to abandon their original look-and-feel to be more Windows-like (from OS 8). And finally they have to migrate to a mixture of Windows and NeXT when OS X finally ships in the future (hopefully). It is absolutely a bad move not to let others share your IP, but this book did not talk about it.
As IP becomes more valuable, many may improperly follow other people's advise to closely guard their IP. As suggested in this book, IP can worth a lot. A dead company can make huge profit from selling their patents. However, if badly managed, your IP can be your worst burden.
This book really worths the money. But if it's worthy of your time, that's up to you to judge.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Patents in the light of the e-commerce revolution June 16 2000
A patent gives its owner the right to prevent anyone else from using the invention that is protected by the patent. In a society where new technology plays an increasingly important role, the individual or corporation may find that owning a few patents, or better yet a large portfolio of patents, may be the key to success. This is independant of whether the patent holder practices the technology of the patent.
The authors discuss patents in the light of the e-commerce revolution. They suggest the use of patents in a strategic manner. They provide illustrations and examples of successful patent strategies. Although much of what they say may be known to those who are in the race to establish business method patent portfolios, even those who think that they know what patents are all about can learn something from this book.
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