Integrating Patent Management and R&D. An explorative analysis of the new product development process
Complex processes within firms require more than one department’s input, and a functioning integration among the departments is crucial. This is true for the R&D and the patent department in research and development intensive manufacturing firms. Patent-related activities, such as securing freedom to operate, positively influence a new product’s commercial success. However, low patent awareness among research and development (R&D) personnel and limited patenting resources lead to lacking guidance, risks, and missed opportunities. This paper qualitatively explores how internal patent departments are integrated with R&D along the stages of the new product development process. Capturing triangulated experiences from both the patent management (PM) and R&D perspective within 12 manufacturing firms, the research demonstrates that the R&D and PM representatives localise their integration in the early stages of new product development (NPD), which appears to be especially beneficial at the scoping stage where ideas are mature, whilst no heavy development investments occurred yet. While facing heterogenous patent awareness among R&D employees that impedes the integration on a behavioural dimension, the firms successfully employ several mechanisms to improve the cross-functional integration between R&D and PM.