Thursday, November 30, 2006

Ten steps to making money from smart ideas

smart ideas ten to make moneyIP Australia has this advise for people who are planning to startup business or has smart ideas.


1. Treat intellectual property as a business asset by putting a dollar value on it and look to protect it in the same way you do your tangible assets. This is important for your balance sheet if you want to attract investment to grow your business, or to find out what your business and your IP is worth if you want to sell it.

2. Understand the different types of IP and the advantages of each one. Patents protect inventions; design registration protects its look. A registered trade mark protects brand names, logos, original sounds and scents and even aspects of packaging. Or you may want to rely on rights such as copyright or trade secrets, which do not need to be registered, to protect your IP. IP Australia’s website gives you more details about your IP options at www.ipaustralia.gov.au.

3. Keep your smart idea confidential—until it’s protected. If talking to others about your idea, use a confidentiality agreement, otherwise you could risk your right to legal protection and competitive advantage. Once signed by the party, a confidentiality agreement prevents them from disclosing your ideas to others without your permission.

4. Protect your idea using the IP system. Wise innovators seek advice from an IP professional sooner rather than later.

5. Build a model of your invention, where practical, to help prospective financial backers visualise your smart idea and its market potential. However, don’t let anyone see it without having a confidentiality agreement in place first. Also, if you have an invention, be cautious not to chase money in relation to that invention before lodging an application for patent protection. A ‘commercial use’ of the invention prior to filing your patent application may destroy your chance of receiving a patent.

6. Keep track of all your development and protection costs to help you put a value on your IP and give you an idea of how profitable your venture should be to recover costs.

7. Every business needs to research its potential market and understand its likely consumers, competitors, buyers, licensees, investors, manufacturers and distributors. Doing this will help you work out if your product or service is competitive. It will also assist you to avoid infringing the IP rights of others.

8. Many inventors are great at inventing but to commercialise your idea you need a variety of business skills. Taking a course in business management or at least educating yourself via books or accessing information on the web is fundamental. Use support groups such as inventor’s associations, your local Business Enterprise Centre and government agencies. However, before taking major steps, invest in quality professional advice.

9. There are different ways to make money from IP. You can sell it, license it or make products yourself. It might be more profitable in some cases to not manufacture it yourself. If you do this, get legal advice on any contracts you intend entering into with other parties.

10. Keep an eye out for infringers. Not only do copycats erode your hard-won market share, poor quality imitations can quickly ruin your brand reputation. Seek the advice of a lawyer or patent/trade mark attorney to help you to decide on the best course of action against infringers. You may need to take legal action, but infringers can often be stopped without having to resort to legal proceedings.

More on this here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Unholy alliance - Microsoft, Novell partnership

Microsoft has announced its partnership with Novell to put Suse Linux (2nd no Linux distro) on a Windows desktop. As part of the deal, Microsoft will offer sales support for Suse Linux and also co-develop technologies with Novell to make it easier for users to run both Suse Linux and Microsoft Windows on their computers. Microsoft plans to distribute 70,000 coupons for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server maintenance and support to customers that want to run both Windows and Linux in their environments. In addition to this, Novell and Microsoft will work together to improve interoperability between Windows and Novell's SuSE Linux.

Some insights from infoworld why this partnership has come along:

Scenario one: Looking to the future and seeing the proverbial handwriting on the wall, this stops the bleeding of Windows to Linux desktops.

Scenario two: Did the desktop OEMs push Microsoft toward this deal?
More of their customers want Linux and so the PC manufacturers want this technology so they can give them both.

Scenario three: The most intriguing possibility of all.
Did increasing sales of Apple Macintosh which now has Intel inside and uses OS X which is a form of Unix, have anything to do with this decision.

All this sounds very compelling for Linux enthusiasts, but in reality its not, esp when Microsoft talks about interoperability. Microsoft over the years has been opposing Linux and open source solution and now this deal, doesn't ring a bell to me. Novell and Microsoft have come together because they both want to screw Oracle and Red Hat. This unholy alliance of arch rivals getting together is to strike on the head of other guys.

Is this alliance going to help Novell? In short term yes, but in longer term no. As Foley from zdnet adds, "Microsoft is not conceding that desktop Linux is gaining ground. It's not admitting that its closed-source strategy has failed. Sure, Microsoft is licensing to customers' requests for better interoperability. But if you think the Redmondians are throwing in the towel, vis-a-vis open source, you are underestimating severely Microsoft's well-proven ability to come out ahead on any partnership to which it commits." And that, I think, may be the real take-away from this, aptly described in this post from ZDNet's Mitch Ratcliffe. Microsoft is not changing its license to GPL, it is still going to sell it s/w under strict license, but Novell has opened the gates for Microsoft to sell to its customers.
This alliance is a win-win situation for Microsoft and it proves again, it has no soul at all when it comes to business.

Looking ahead, this deal and Oracle's recent unbreakable Linux move has definitely put lot of pressure on RedHat.
It will be interesting how RedHat responds to these changes in marketplace. Until now there hasn't been much pressure on its share price, its holding up, which suggests market has lot of confidence in RedHat. Let us wait and watch how this unholy alliance comes out in future.