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Rembrandts in the Attic: Unlocking the Hidden Value of Patents Hardcover – November 15, 1999

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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

Review

"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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1 edition (November 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0875848990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0875848990
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #445,687 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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The book is interesting in that it is full of anecdotal stories about why patents are important. The book is written by a patent attorney and a war correspondent. Based on the quality of the text, I assume the war correspondent completed the final review of the text. For example, the book summaries patent cases and then cites to magazine articles instead of giving a legal citation to the relevant case. Some of the statements seem factually suspect such as those predicting the content of pending patent applications (which are private until issued in the United States today.) The book has many good quotes from quality sources. However, the citations for the quotes nearly always refer to magazine articles or other publicly available documents rather than statements made to the authors. Did the authors create any new insights or simply collect existing ideas into a neat pile? If you are looking for a book to convince yourself or others that patents are an important part of business, buy this book. If you are looking for solid advice about what to do after deciding patents are important, this book will not be much help.
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Format: Hardcover
The authors did a great job researching and elucidating a critical management issue - IP strategy - that has been and can no longer be ignored. Even small businesses like mine can benefit from their clearly outlined strategy. And special kudos to the authors for writing a business book in a very engaging style without the usual corporate jargon.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
What a timely book! Rembrandts in the Attic is filled with advice for anyone concerned with intellectual property management. Rembrandts shows how to leverage your own intellectual property for competitive advantage, how get a handle on your competitors' activities by mining available resources, and how to "patent map" your own business development strategy. I highly recommend it as a "must have" in order to thrive in today's idea economy.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book about 10 years ago with every intention of reading it, but it sat on my bookshelf for nearly a decade until late this summer when Google acquired Motorola Mobility. Google's real motivation seemed to be a desire to control Motorola's war chest of 17,000 patents after having lost out on the auctions of the Nortel patents earlier in the year. With the subject of intellectual property rights appearing daily in the news I decided it was time to dust off the Rembrandts in the Attic to learn more about patent strategies in the technology sector.

Although the book is ten years old, I still found many of the ideas to be thought-provoking and extremely relevant in today's marketplace. For example, consider the following quotation which I think is more insightful than ever: "In this new ecology of competition, it is not our land or natural resources but intellectual property that now carries the DNA of wealth creation, the genetic code for competitive advantage."

Throughout the book there are a number of interesting anecdotes about how technology companies have suffered the consequences of not properly protecting their intellectual property assets. For example, I had always wondered why Xerox did not more closely guard the Graphical User Interface (GUI) developed in its Palo Alto research center. There are numerous other tales of how companies from Kodak to Visicalc lost millions by failing to properly address intellectual property.

My favorite part of the book was the various IP strategy recommendations ranging from patent securitization and cross-licensing to patent walls and bracketing. I highly recommend this book to marketing, product management and other business leaders seeking a primer on the importance of intellectual property management.
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