Known as an intellectual property
powerhouse, Juniper Networks places
enormous importance on protecting its
innovation. With one of Silicon Valley’s
highest annual investments in research
and development, the company
has filed for thousands of patents
worldwide. Out of Juniper’s 65-person
legal department, five compose the
Juniper Patent Legal Team (JPLT);
the patent area represents the
department’s largest outside counsel
spend, excluding litigation expenses.
Its efforts are overseen by Meredith
McKenzie, deputy general counsel and
vice president for intellectual property.
That outside spend had been “significantly over
budget,” McKenzie says, and the team sought
approaches that would yield not only greater
predictability and better control, but reduced
costs. Juniper had been focusing on reducing
operating expenses in the years leading up
to this value project, and had begun laying
the groundwork in this area through portfolio
technology categorization and analysis efforts
necessary to make strategic decisions on the
portfolio. “It was a big challenge for the JPLT to
continue to protect the rapid rate of innovation
with fewer resources,” says Archana Bhuta,
director for patents.
The Patent Budget Transformation Project
had two main goals: to ensure that yearly
patent spending came within 2 to 3 percent
of budget; and to optimize and proactively
administer that spending to ensure continued
protection of Juniper’s intellectual property.
All of this needed to be done with current
staffing and technology. These goals were
met with two major initiatives: a patent asset
review program and required monthly cost
estimates from outside counsel.
The JPLT recognized that expenditures had to
be more strategic. Previously, Bhuta explains,
the Juniper finance department would simply
review e-bills and the run rates of inbound
invoices, and assume that average expenditures
would be the same every month. But patent
prosecution, annuity fees, and the maturation
of innovations means that there is often a lag
in expenses. This lag can often be two to three
years, says McKenzie.
“As time goes on, more expense is required
to maintain patents, and budgeting becomes
a bigger deal as the company matures.
Considering that there are thousands of
matters, we needed a better understanding of
where the money was going,” McKenzie says.
Left to right, Erin Wong, Megan Sugiyama, Meredith McKenzie, Julienne
Aquino, Archana Bhuta. Not pictured: Heidi Woods.
BETTER BUDGETING, TACTICAL