December 18, 2013 (Report Number RARC-WP-14-003)

The U.S. Postal Service has substantial intellectual property (IP) assets. The ZIP Code is one of the best known assets, but they also include optical character reader technology and address management techniques, among many others. The Postal Service has secured patent protection for some IP assets but lacks a fully developed strategy for all its IP – and that could ultimately pose some serious problems for not just the Postal Service but the entire mailing/shipping industry and the public as well.

Based on outside expert research commissioned by the Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG), it is clear the Postal Service has at present relatively informal processes for managing IP and would benefit greatly from developing and promulgating a formal, organization-wide IP strategy. In this new white paper, the OIG reviews the current processes, outlines the potential complications associated with them, and – most important – identifies the essential points and components the Postal Service should consider in building an effective and robust IP strategy.