Not long ago, the Xerox Palo Alto [Calif.] Research Center, the source of history-making inventions like the computer mouse and laser printing, was at a crossroads. It was being spun off as a subsidiary from Xerox, and even though intellectual property had always been of primary importance there, the new PARC would need to organize its portfolio into a tighter revenue-generating machine.

The company decided it was crucial to hire an IP executive who would be empowered to whip the company’s portfolios into shape and who would be very high in the corporate hierarchy.