With spring fast approaching, now may be a good time to get your intellectual property (IP) portfolio in order to ensure your business is properly protected and is making the most of its IP going forward.
What is Intellectual Property?
IP is one of your business’ most valuable assets and is frequently estimated to represent more than 75% of your business value.
IP commonly falls into two categories:
- ‘hard’ IP which is recognised by statue and covers trademarks, patents, copyright, designs and data; and
- ‘soft’ IP which is not protected by statute but which is nonetheless recognised under common law and which covers goodwill, confidential information, know-how and trade secrets.
The IP which underpins your business’ brand, reputation, products and services should be developed, protected, exploited and defended as part of your continuing IP strategy.
In order to establish what IP your business holds, it is vital that your IP professional undertakes an IP audit. The purpose of the IP audit is to allow you to identify your key IP assets and make sure that you are using them in a way that generates value for your business.
The audit will help you to become aware of how you can use your IP to generate income; for example, there may be opportunities to license your design or franchise your brand. A good IP audit should also make you aware of all the risks, by telling you where your IP is potentially exposed and how to manage these risks in the future. This is not just about potential infringement, or lack of protection, but making sure internal IP strategies, such as the documentation and codification of know-how align with the commercial and financial plans of the business.
Having completed your IP audit, a good IP strategist will help you create a comprehensive IP strategy. Your IP professional should see your business as you do and understand your vision to enable them to spot strategic IP opportunities. IP strategy and legal protection of your IP assets will depend on a number of factors such as the nature of the asset, how it will be exploited and the territories in which it will be sold.
Preparing and operating a comprehensive IP audit and strategy will ensure that your IP is protected and will build value for your business for the future.