Image of Thomas Birr

IP management is an integral part of E.ON innovation strategy. Over the last years E.ON built a portfolio of cutting-edge technologies that includes about 370 patent families with about 1400 single IP rights.

According to Thomas Birr, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at E.ON, “Being a market leader means having the right technology for successful business. You don’t get there unless you protect your intellectual property. IP management keeps you competitive and ensures that technical solutions are safeguarded, in particular the technical standard solutions of your own products and processes.”

IP management creates a firewall around a company’s original ideas. This can give companies the necessary freedom to operate, to research and develop, and to bring groundbreaking ideas to the market. To keep ahead of competitors and actively shape the green future, IP management is an indispensable asset.

Freedom to operate

How does a product go from being an innovative idea to a market-leading product? The answer is IP management. Carefully safeguarding proprietary technologies, it allows companies maintain their freedom to operate, adapt to new market conditions and protect technological advances that are addressing the challenges that we face as a planet.

Let's take E-Mobility as an example. E-Mobility has been on the rise worldwide over the past decade. As the German market began embracing electric vehicles, E.ON spotted the growing need for vehicle-charging solutions. To meet the need, a new calibration-conformal accounting solution was invented. This is a charging station for electric vehicles, that combine hardware and software.

IP management has essentially enabled this unique product to be protected. Today, this charging station has one of Germany’s leading E-Mobility charging technologies.

The competitive edge

Unique inventions set companies apart from their competitors. Where would a company like Google be without its carefully guarded technology? Or Tesla Motors without its battery technologies? In general innovations take time, research and extensive testing to get right. Innovation usually requires a major investment of time and resources.

Effective IP management makes this investment worthwhile. Protecting new and inventive technologies, secures an enterprise’s ownership of its unique ideas. It is a smart business choice that can set leading companies apart from their competitors.

The ‘cutting edge’ is actually a ‘competitive edge’ for innovative companies.

IP management fuels innovation

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Protecting IP is not just a good business strategy. It also creates fertile ground for continuous innovation. This is why companies make IP management a priority.

“Without IP management, there is no technological innovation,” says Michael Pfeffer, Head of IP Management and German and European Patent Attorney at innogy.

Effective IP management allows leading companies keep exploring and inventing new solutions. Currently, E.ON is applying its hardware and software products in fields like these:

  • E-Mobility: Ensuring the necessary infrastructure for the growing e-vehicle market.
  • Energy grid: Improving efficiency and reducing costs, resulting in better service and savings for our customers.
  • Load management: Paving the way for the environmentally friendly, decentralized grid of the future.
  • Artificial intelligence: Taking steps to ensure that our AI solutions remain within our company going forward, despite the current lack of an adequate regulatory framework in this field.

An innovative mindset

Leading companies view intellectual property as one of their defining characteristics. It is what makes a company special. Through active IP management, companies establish an innovative mindset as part of their company culture. They help employees to engage with innovative topics. The goal is to create an open exchange in which sustainable innovation thrive.

Innovative companies ensure that each employee understands the impact of intellectual property. This lets them shape innovation from the ground up. “Innovative ideas come from the core of an organization, where the business is at,” says Thomas Birr.

This also requires solid IP management processes. Clear procedures ensure proper handling of all intellectual property, from patenting new inventions to tackling possible infringements of protected products.

Long-term advantages

Leading companies view IP management as an essential pillar in their business strategies. To maintain freedom to operate today and in the future, we must maintain ownership over the innovative technologies that we have developed in-house or with our partners.

Patents’ true value reveals itself over time. “A regular patent lasts for up to twenty years. Design patents run for up to twenty-five years and protect, for example, the design of a product,” Michael Pfeffer explains. “New inventions can have an immediate impact on operations, but it takes between three and ten years on average to see the full effect.”

At E.ON, protecting innovative power is consistent with the company’s vision – building sustainable future for all. Here IP Management serves as a firewall for innovation, for the benefit of customers and partners and for the benefit of sustainable world.

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