In my Duke University Army ROTC class in 1985, I received a copy of a book titled The Defense of Duffer’s Drift written in 1903 by a Major General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton of the British Army. In this book, the main character has five dreams where he gets the defense of a key drift wrong during the Boer War until a sixth dream when he gets it right. The reason my instructors gave us this book is its artful way of making the point that the differences between winning and losing are subtle – often found in details that we realize only after it is too late.
The Defense of the Mieza HChip is a modern interpretation of Swinton’s story set in the high stakes and highly competitive Silicon Valley and built around the defense of intellectual property for a “cognitive algorithm” artificial intelligence device. HChip stands for “Horse Chip,” and the HChip device gives an automobile or other operator device the ability to override user error in much the same way that a horse would refuse a rider’s command to leap off a cliff.
The hero of the story, through the course of five dreams, will learn that there is a lot more to succeeding with IP than securing a good patent. Pitfalls abound with respect to customers, partners, competitors, and his internal staff. On the sixth dream, he finally gets it right.
I have built a lot of my life around this story starting in 1985. I am always asking what detail I have left out in my own endeavors. What have I missed? I don’t always get it right, but I sure do try. The Defense of the Mieza HChip reflects the thought process – anticipating failure before it happens instead of afterwards when it is too late. IP strategy in its purest form is about anticipating how the future could look and then shaping it into the future that you want.