Developed by our friends at the Zürich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) School of Management and Law in Switzerland and led by Dr. Ben Graziano, the Intellectual Property (IP) Canvas is a strategic management tool devised to help startups efficiently gain insight into how IP operates within their business. The IP Canvas allows users to work through key questions in order to analyze current IP status, identify gaps, and define core elements of their IP strategies. With easily understood “building block” segments, it inspires visual thinking across 6 elements, including :

  • Internal IP Rights
  • Third Party IP Rights
  • Freedom to Operate
  • Finance
  • Strategy
  • Next Steps

Dr. Graziano and his colleagues use a flipped classroom approach when harnessing the IP Canvas. Teams are directed to the Startup Accelerator, a free microlearning platform created by the ZHAW, where they can take a short 1-2 hour online course on IP that has been created specifically for startups. They are asked to complete and submit the IP Canvas (which is provided as part of the online course) before class.

During class, the teams present their canvases and then expert IP coaches work through each element with them. This may include anything from helping the teams do preliminary trademark or patent searches to reviewing licensing strategy. At the end of the workshop, teams have a better understanding of their IP position, a clear IP strategy and a set of next steps.

The IP Canvas is under Copyright from the Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship within the ZHAW School of Management and Law, Switzerland. It can be used for educational purposes, but not otherwise distributed online or reproduced without written consent.

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The Michelson Institute for Intellectual Property, an initiative of the Michelson 20MM Foundation, addresses critical gaps in intellectual property education to empower the next generation of inventors and entrepreneurs. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon Dr. Gary K. Michelson and Alya Michelson. To learn more, visit