Building a world-class intellectual property team is not an easy job. It is contingent on many factors, such as business size, the industry you’re in and the assets in question. Joseph Siino, former SVP of IP at Yahoo and former CEO and founder of the Ovidian Group, LLC, has some insight into this. Siivo shared five dos and five don’ts that IP specialists should keep in mind when building a team.


  1. Don’t trust what people say and how they sound. Use references and due diligence to determine the worth of your team members.
  2. Don’t permit a single point of failure for critical tasks, especially in regard to licensing teams or patent analysis.
  3. Don’t tolerate disrespect on the team, especially between members who must work together on closing deals.
  4. Don’t tolerate a lack of discipline, which can sink a deal faster than you’d imagine.
  5. Don’t allow teams to confuse fantasy and reality. Don’t make assumptions about the value of the IP, for example.


  1. Do build a cross-functional team. Make sure team members have ownership on tasks, but work together.
  2. Do make sure you hire deal closers. Working on a team that closes a deal is not the same as being a closer.
  3. Do build a culture of urgency that values patience. It seems contradictory, but IP cycles are long, so patience is a virtue, but team members should show initiative at all times.
  4. Do use parallel processing strategically when possible. Deploy two deal people, if possible, for example, to work on different opportunities.
  5. Do keep the team grounded in reality and results. After all, the results are all that really matter.