The Pandemic: Obstacle or Opportunity?

The Pandemic: Obstacle or Opportunity?

How does a company thrive during a pandemic? Look around and you may notice businesses that have been able to achieve success and scale despite the global economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. From our observation, these companies have some common traits.  One key aspect is how they are able to make use of their intellectual property (IP) and intangible asset (IA) portfolio to capture new business opportunities.  

What Has Changed?

The pandemic struck the world with little notice.  The way we live, operate our businesses, and communicate with others have all changed drastically due to COVID-19. These changes go beyond the healthcare industry that directly contributes to the fight against the virus – other industries have also been highly instrumental in assisting businesses and consumers in dealing with the sudden lifestyle changes—such as Information and Communication Technologies (e.g., virtual meetings, telemedicine), logistics and payment (e.g.,  contactless delivery) and Virtual Reality technologies (e.g., technical trainings).  Such industries will continue to contribute significantly to our society and economy in the new norm of the post-COVID world.

IP/IA – Creating Value for Businesses

From our observations, IP/IA plays a major role in creating value for businesses in the key industries identified above.  There are great inter-dependencies and interactions between IP/IA and one’s business activities, where IP/IA is often the main value driver for businesses today.

Asset Portfolio of a Modern Business

When should one start?  We cannot predict when a crisis or an opportunity may arise, but we can certainly be prepared to seize it when it comes. Hence, there is no better time to start looking into your IP/IA portfolio than now.
Many companies tend to overlook this important business asset until major events such as fundraising, merger and acquisitions, and more, arise. As a result, many businesses often find themselves scrambling to engage their IP/IA portfolio within a very restrictive time frame in response to these events. As Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favours the prepared mind”. Founders and C-suites of businesses who are aware of the importance of IP management (IPM) and adopt business strategies based on IP/IA assets will be able to effectively tap on opportunities that arise, anytime.

The Mindset for Success in a Pandemic

Let us look at a local cleaning and disinfecting solutions company – Spic & Span Pte Ltd. The founder, Benjamin Chua, understands that his suite of IP/IA is the fundamental driver for his business’ growth, and began his IPM journey early, before the pandemic hit.

Mr. Chua said, “It is crucial to identify what are the existing intangible assets we have, what are the gaps that we need to fix as well as the strategy moving forward. By understanding the assets we have, we know what is valuable to our company and where our growth engine lies.

During the pandemic, Mr. Chua enhanced the formula of his proprietary disinfecting agent and improved its method of application to tackle the COVID-19 virus. With its enhanced Speco® solution, Spic & Span is now looking to expand overseas through a licensing model by pivoting on its intangible assets such as patents, trade marks, know-how and trade secrets.

Despite stiff competition within the cleaning industry in this crucial time, Spic & Span was able to successfully grow their business during the pandemic as they recognised the importance of their IP/IA, and were committed to executing the recommendations provided by IP/IA experts.

When a pandemic like this hits, businesses often find themselves overwhelmed with operational matters and lacking the necessary finances and resources while fundamental IP/IA issues remain at stake. Since Spic & Span had recognised their needs early, they were able to effectively seize and realise this opportunity, taking their business to the next level within a very short time.

By being prepared and engaged with your IP/IA portfolio, your business can not only survive, but grow in difficult circumstances such as a pandemic. In the Spic & Span case, it has managed to transform its service-oriented business model to become an end-to-end provider amidst this pandemic, by dealing with the foundational aspects of IP/IA management, protection and commercialisation, early. This allowed Spic & Span to also move up the value chain.

Another noteworthy example would be OTSAW Digital, a local robotics company, which repurposed its security robots for disinfection and delivery during the pandemic. By leveraging the company’s key assets — brand, patents, trade secrets and know-how — backed by their robust IP/IA strategy, OTSAW Digital, in collaboration with a Tokyo-based design and technology firm, Final Aim, expanded the range of its robotic solutions by offering the world's first UV-C LED Disinfection Autonomous Robots and last-mile Autonomous Delivery Robots.

Mr Ting, CEO of OTSAW Digital, said, “While the technology space is moving fast and getting crowded, it is important to protect our IP and patents to restrict copycats. It is also part of the organisation's efforts to provide a higher level of credibility to our partners and clients.”

Your IPM Journey Starts Now

You can also create compelling success stories like Spic & Span and Otsaw Digital by following these three key principles:

  1. Be prepared: Continuously look at your growing IP/IA portfolio and manage them accordingly. Identify your key IP/IA and develop a strategy to protect and commercialise them, recognising the potential risks and gaps in your asset portfolio.
  2. Drive relevance: When a pandemic or other crisis strikes, ensure your business is flexible enough to ride the tide and seize the opportunities that arise. Understanding the strengths and limitations of your IP/IA portfolio will help you make sound decisions to survive and adapt well in any challenging environment.
  3. Grow sustainably: Maintain this momentum and ensure your change remains sustainable for further growth. Take this challenging time to make changes that will benefit your business in the long run.

Why do you need to wait any longer? Your IPM journey starts now.

As the expertise and enterprise engagement arm of IPOS, IPOS International helps enterprises and industries use IP and intangible assets for business growth. To learn how you can leverage on your IP, email us at [email protected] or call +65 6330 8660.

Posted on: 6 October 2020
Ye Thu Aung, IP Strategist <br> <br> Dixon Soh, Head of Legal & Deputy Director (IP Strategy)
Ye Thu Aung, IP Strategist

Dixon Soh, Head of Legal & Deputy Director (IP Strategy)
IPOS International