HID logo

The Importance of IP Protection: Q&A with HID’s General Counsel

At HID, we take pride in the intellectual and innovative contributions resulting from the hard work of our employees, whether it be through our R&D teams or other employees throughout the organization. It is because of these creations of the mind that we are able to produce such high-quality products and services.  

It is incumbent on us to make sure we protect such embodiments of creativity and innovation. The process of doing so is part of the fascinating and nuanced world of intellectual property — or IP, for short. 

We take the protection of these innovations seriously, especially as we understand their benefit to our customers, partners and anyone who interacts with HID products and technology.

To provide a glimpse into our approach to IP protection, we sat down with our SVP and General Counsel, Karen Higgins, to offer her take on this increasingly important topic.

Karen, thanks for joining us. To start, how do you define IP? Why is it important?

Thanks for having me. Let’s start with a relatively simple definition of IP, which includes creations of the mind that are coupled with the legal rights to protect our innovations, our products and the ecosystem of partners that sell our products. IP incentivizes and protects innovation, including a company’s ability to go to market with unique offerings that differentiate it from the competition.

Generally speaking, IP includes the intangible results from our innovations and the corresponding rights under the law that recognize IP as a special form of property, which is something that is valuable and can be protected. This comes in different forms, including patents, trademarks, trade secrets and copyrights, which under the law provide certain exclusive rights that allow companies to innovate, commercialize and optimize their R&D investments.

At HID, we highly value our IP because it allows us to deliver best-in-class product offerings to the market while protecting our customer and partner ecosystem. IP also protects our team members who work long hours with a lot of heart to create hardware and software solutions to protect the world’s people, places and things.

What does “IP infringement” mean?

The value of developing intellectual property would be diminished without the ability to protect it when others develop products in the same way that we do or “infringe” those intellectual property rights. It’s important to note, however, that infringement is more nuanced than that and can include misappropriating our proprietary and confidential information.  Where appropriate, litigation against infringers is warranted, but there are other means to enforce our rights.

Why is IP protection so important to you and to HID? What is the benefit to our customers?

IP protection is important to me and HID because it protects our innovators who spend countless hours developing and delivering new creations. It is in our best interest, as well as theirs, to protect those investments and the passion behind them.

Externally speaking, IP is important to our partners because it assures them of the integrity of our products and optimizes their investments and integrations into our systems with the ultimate goal of delivering a superior and unique solution to their end users. The protection of the features and functionality help provide a certain level of trust that our customers and end-users are accessing premier technology and that their investment in HID products will be safeguarded.

I essentially see the protection of our IP as a service to our customers, which is where the full circle of IP — from creation to protection — shows its full value.

Tell us more about the scope of HID’s IP protection efforts. What and who is involved?

It’s a massive effort that starts at the very top. IP protection is a core objective of our Senior Leadership Team, including our President, our CTO and all of our Business Area leaders who are dedicated to keeping HID at the top of our innovation game.

While this vision is led by our senior team, the execution takes place throughout various levels of our organization, including our engineering teams, our marketing teams and, of course, the Legal team that I am privileged to lead. From the Legal perspective, we have attorneys responsible for capturing our innovations and distinguishing the protection of those innovations across HID.

We also align closely with our parent company, ASSA ABLOY, as it relates to IP creation and protection. We work to couple our IP resources with our R&D resources to bring more value to our innovations across all technologies within the ASSA ABLOY group.

Ultimately, as a trusted leader in our industry, we are going to face a lot of competition (and criticism) from those who want to duplicate what we have created and enable a quicker pathway to market. I strongly believe that competition is important and enhances innovation, so long as it does not infringe on the creations that our people have tirelessly worked to develop and share with the world.  

Are there any examples of HID’s IP protection efforts that you can share?

HID is proud to protect the integrity of its products and sometimes that requires HID to enforce its rights.

There are tons of examples I can think of, but one of the first that comes to mind is around patent protection. About a decade ago, the access control industry was in a period of transition in using different types of credentials that operated at different radio frequencies. The industry was beginning to move away from low-frequency credentials and readers to more high-frequency technologies, but needed readers that could support both. We were able to create and bring to market a technology, of which we received vetted patents, that helped solve this problem for a large number of users.

As part of the protection of this innovation, HID instituted litigations resulting favorably in the licensing of this technology to our partners and even our competitors. As a result, this new technology was able to quickly flourish in the market, much to the benefit of the larger security industry and everyone who utilized this technology in their daily lives.

Anything else you’d like to add as it relates to IP protection at HID?

IP is a critical component of innovation. It protects the integrity of products and incentivizes creativity. HID strongly believes that IP brings value and quality to the market, which is why we work so hard to protect it. The engineer, the marketer, the developer who used their knowledge in creative ways to produce solutions that benefit us all — those people deserve to have their creations protected. These innovations produce solutions that benefit us all, including our employees, our partners, our customers and again, anyone and everyone who interacts with our technology.