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An office to identify and protect the BBVA Group’s Inventions

BBVA has created the Global Patent Office (GPO), whose objective is to identify, during the Group’s transformation process, the areas of innovative activity, in order to coordinate the efforts to protect BBVA’s intellectual property.

“The majority of the banks are fully engaged in digital transformation and that means that we are transforming: changing from old processes to digital processes, based on software and technology,” says Don Relyea, director of the BBVA Global Patent Office. “As we advance along the path to digital transformation, we must protect our intellectual property, especially if it affects our principal business.”

The Global Patent Office was created to identify the inventions that are generated within the Group around the next generation of amazing BBVA customer experiences and protect them, whether as intellectual property rights, patent rights or trade secrets.

It’s important to center the intellectual property work in a single office because, with coordination and collaboration between departments, and training, in the end we can detect technology that is beneficial for the bank”, explained one of the members of the legal team of the Global Patent Office.

How do we identify the intellectual property rights of BBVA?

The strategy of the Global Patent Office is to identify intellectual property rights via two avenues:

In the first place, the GPO closely follows the projects that grow out of the Single Development Agenda, the single agenda of the BBVA Group’s projects to advance the bank’s transformation. The GPO will be connected with the ‘scrums’ in order to identify, in the early phases of development, global solutions involving inventions that could be patented or protected, such as software or commercial secrets.

“We are following closely the milestones of the bank that come from the SDA and from the 3-6-9 creation process, so that when a prototype is being created, even before it is launched, we can initiate the process of applying for a patent,” explains Don Relyea.

The 3-6-9 process is a work model that BBVA has adopted to accelerate the delivery of solutions to its customers:

  • Three days to identify the team that will work on the project.
  • Six weeks to deliver a first prototype of the project.
  • A maximum of nine months to turn the project into a solution in the hands of customers.

The GPO will interact with the engineering, design, data and product teams in two of the phases of the work model: in the process of creating the first prototype (six weeks) and during the development process, to guide the teams toward patentable solutions. In the final phase of the process (nine months up until the delivery of the minimum viable product, or MVP) the GPO will carry out an intensive consultation with the teams and begin the protection process.

“Apart from the milestones that may emerge form the SDA, we want to follow closely the hot points of innovation that there are in BBVA,” Relyea stressed. “We want to establish connections with the people that work in engineering groups or laboratories within the Group.”

“We want to establish connections with the people that work in engineering groups or laboratories within the Group

The GPO will create a network of Intellectual Property Agents that will be able to identify those ideas or inventions that could be patented or protected.

A network of Intellectual Property Agents

To that end, the GPO will create a network of Intellectual Property Agents that will be able to identify those ideas or inventions that could be patented or protected, such as software or commercial secrets.

The PI agent will be responsible for contacting the GPO when he/she believes there could be a protectable invention.

We are going to launch a training plan so that the teams know what could be patentable, what we are looking for and when they should contact us. Also, we want people to learn that they should contact the GPO before making public any information about an invention,” Relyea said.

“More than just rights for software, we are principally interested in utility patents like negotiating processes using biometrics; or how to interact with artificial intelligence

Additionally, the GPO has a mailbox so that those people in the Group who believe they have an idea which should be protected can contact the office directly.

Our initial objective is to be able to register about 10 patents this year and build on that number from then on,” Relyea said. The process of obtaining a patent is quite long; between two and five years can pass before a State recognizes a patent.

“More than just rights for software, we are principally interested in utility patents, about how things work,” he said. “For example, negotiating processes using biometrics; or how to interact with artificial intelligence, these types of customer experiences, are the ones we would like to patent.”

In adition, the Global Patent Office has decided to operate an incentive program to provide financial and non-financial rewards for inventions developed by employees within the BBVA Group.

“The goal is to incentivize inventors and reward them as well as recognize their work. They will receive a monetary award for filing the patent and they will also receive another award when the patent is granted”, Relyea explains. “We would like to recognize them in some of the events BBVA organizes at the end of the year”.

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