Can You Be TOO Protective of Your Intellectual Property?

During World War II, "Loose lips sink ships" was a popular phase that showed up on many patriotic posters.  The idea was that if stateside family members of military personnel fighting on the front lines openly talked about what their loved ones were doing, enemy agents might be tipped off about military secrets, resulting in ambushed ships and lost lives.

Entrepreneurs are understandably protective of their great concepts, especially if their idea could be easily "borrowed" by others.  Products that have few barriers to entry are especially susceptible.  The good news is that heeding the warning to put your lips together allows entrepreneurs to keep their product under wraps until just the right time.

The bad news is that this sequestration could cut them off from critical information vital to the successful product development.  This can be especially dangerous if the developer has minimal direct experience in the healthcare arena. 

Sometimes I think the hospital world is actually a parallel universe.  Many of the typical business approaches and practices of other industries don't seem to apply.  I'm not defending that - just stating an opinion based on 30+ years as an industry insider.  So developers from outside healthcare might come up with what sounds like perfectly valid solutions, but their products could totally bomb in a hospital setting.

Even people who have worked in healthcare for years can sometimes miss key success factors because they operate in a different "end" of the healthcare market.  For example, some of our clients have strong clinical backgrounds and have worked in hospitals for years.  However, despite their spot-on clinical insights, they often have minimal understanding of what I call "The Jacked-Up World of Healthcare Financing."  Much about how healthcare is financed doesn't make sense.  So these clients may create something with great clinical value but which no one will buy because the economics or the positioning or the messaging doesn't jibe with healthcare's financial realities.

So there is a balance.  You should be careful how openly you talk about your concept in order to keep it under wraps.  But don't make the opposite mistake of developing it in a vacuum so you end up designing something no one really wants. 

Here’s a suggestion about solving this dilemma.  Find a band of trusted advisors representing different aspects of healthcare delivery with whom you can share your ideas.   Ask them to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and consider compensating them for their input.


And you can always approach Pearson Health Tech Insights, LLC to seek our expert advice.  One of our hallmark offerings is an outline we call "46 Pitfalls of Marketing to Hospitals You Didn't Even Know Existed."  Through our extensive network of industry experts, we can provide detailed insights and direction to help you avoid potential problems in the marketplace.