Businesses, in particular small and medium size businesses are often surprised when they find out how much IP they own or use without realising it. IP includes more than just technology-related inventions, such as new products or processes, technical know-how or expertise.
It also includes trademarks, designs, works of authorship and artistic expression that can differentiate a business from its competitors and that symbolize its reputation and goodwill. Many businesses realize too late the importance that IP could have played in their development and often; their lack of anticipation of their protection needs is more to blame than the loopholes in a local IP protection system.
This is particularly noticeable for local businesses in developing countries where awareness about IP protection remains low. Identifying IP assets is the first step to IP protection and can be more difficult than it seems in particular due to the intangible nature of intellectual property. There are four principal types of intellectual property: 1) Patents, which protect new and non-obvious inventions, principally new products or new processes
2) Trademarks, which are used to identify and distinguish the product or services of one company from those of its competitors
3) Copyrights, which cover creative works of expression, such as literary, software, photography, music, artwork and architectural works
4) Trade secrets, which are never registered, as registration would reveal the secret, thereby destroying it.
- Conduct a Review of IP Assets (IP Creation):
One of the most important steps in developing a plan for IP Asset management will be reviewing existing IP Assets. The technique to reviewing IP Assets will vary considerably depending on the size and nature of companies.as well as the role that intangible assets play in the business of the company. The list of IP Assets may be incredibly varied depending on the nature of the business, but could include patents and/or patentable subject matter, copyrights, trademarks, registered designs, trade secrets, layout design of integrated circuit, inventions and patents
- Determine the scope of the company’s rights to the IP. (IP Ownership)
This can range from outright ownership to a license in the IP Assets.
- Having identified the IP Assets, it is important how these assets add value to the organization’s short and long-term business goals and the intended or possible uses of the IP Asset. Companies should monitor potential infringements by others and enforce their intellectual property rights. (IP Exploitation)
- In order to maximize the potential value of any IP Asset a company will need to develop a system to reduce the risk of unintentional disclosure of trade secrets and other proprietary information.(IP Protection)
Remember: In order to exploit and IP that exists within your business, you need to make sure you first create it, then protect it so you can own it. If you do not own your IP, you cannot exploit it!
For more information on Exploiting IP and making IP work for you, contact Hsien@astreem.com