The world today is a knowledge economy. Ignoring the strategic potential of intellectual property and its use for businesses would be the biggest corporate blunder. Intellectual Property or IP is the term that is used to describe something original or new devised by the mind. Anything new or original can be an IP, be it a brand, an invention or an art. For businesses, the protection and management of one’s IP assets are crucial while establishing the services or products in the market. IP includes trademarks, copyrights, patents, etc. that are applied to brands or logos, written content, art and design, or innovative products. Many companies are increasingly realizing the contribution of IP protection in the success of a company and therefore, comes the need for Intellectual Property (IP) services.
Use of IP for Businesses
IP is often one of the primary reasons for growth of economies and companies. Companies rarely realize that they have various intangible assets which possess more value than their tangible assets. IP rights of a business prevent other companies from duplicating its services or products. They also help develop a strong identity for a brand by ensuring that it stays unique and exclusive. They help companies in earning revenue through IP transactions such as licenses. They also help companies obtain venture capital through legally protected IP assets. In addition to these, there are innumerable other benefits of IP rights for companies. IP rights endow competitive advantage for companies. Businesses should consult IP service providers to find out what kinds of IP protection is applicable to their assets and products, how they can generate revenue by protecting their IP, which assets require IP protection, and how they can protect their IP from infringement.
IP is owned by the business owner or the stakeholders of a business. Any IP related contracts made with subcontractors and employees should clearly state the owner of the IP that will be created by them for the company. That way, any product developed or used by employees or contractors continues to remain under IP protection and measures can be taken to avoid IP infringement. There are various types of IP protection and the kind of IP protection depends upon the type of intellectual property developed or created. More than one type of protection may also be applicable for a specific asset. IP services are often sought to find out what different types of IP protection can be applied to a company’s individual assets. This requires a review of all the tangible and intangible assets of the enterprise. To be able to use IP to their benefit, companies should know what it is, how they can use it, why they should use it, who the owner of IP is and how it can be commercialized to generate revenue. It is essential to integrate business plans with IP strategy to give a competitive edge to the company. One can combine both registered and unregistered IP rights to enhance the IP protection of assets.
Secret Keeping – Enhancing Market Value and Profits
To obtain a design or patent, it is necessary that the asset should be novel and undisclosed to anybody outside the organization. Companies should keep in mind that they should keep their inventions or designs secret and away from public view until they file for a patent. Moreover, one has to choose between different types of IP protection for the same asset. For instance, if one applies for a patent with regard to a chips recipe, everything has to be disclosed in the patent. If a company does not wish to disclose a secret recipe, it may choose to go for trade secret protection instead. With the right approach, companies can increase their profits as well as market value. When a company has an IP protected service or product, its demand in the marketplace increases. Investors and financers also value products that are legally protected. More revenue can be generated by licensing or franchising the product, resulting in increase in profit margin and market share. While selling a company or during a merger, the value of a company is high if it has IP protected assets. Therefore, it is always advisable to seek IP services in order to ensure strategic utilization of a company’s assets. Through patents, companies can earn revenue through licensing and royalty. A major advantage of this is that a small or medium enterprise may have a patented invention but no capital to commercialize it, in which case it can license it to another company that has the capacity to commercialize the invention. This way, the enterprise continues to earn revenue for its invention without the need to commercialize the invention on its own.
Developing an IP Strategy
Companies can develop their IP strategies in consultation with IP service providers. In order to develop a good IP strategy, companies should first identify the different ways in which they can integrate their business plans with their IP. They should search available databases for trademarks, patents, and designs to make sure that their ideas, designs or concepts are new and that they do not possibly infringe on the IP rights of others. The benefits and risks associated with both registered and unregistered IP rights should be weighed. It is imperative to increase awareness among employees and staff regarding their obligations towards the maintenance of confidentiality. IP audits should be conducted to ensure that the company owns an IP especially when the asset is prepared or used by contractors or third parties. Companies should also be aware of IP insurance and IP infringement. Assets that are related to IP are domain names trademarks, patents, designs, copyrights, franchises, licenses, mastheads, distribution agreements, publishing rights, secret formulas, core technology, secret processes, software, and information databases. All these are generally covered through IP services.
Whatever be the niche product or service of a company, the entire process invariably results in the production and application of IP. If businesses fail to realize the importance of a good IP strategy for the success of their business, they will lose a grand opportunity, or sometimes the only opportunity, of ensuring business growth and success. Not only should the IP of a company be identified, but should also be properly managed and protected. At the same time, companies need to ensure they are not infringing on the IP rights of other companies or individuals. Not realizing so can result in huge amounts of unforeseen losses for the company. Many enterprises have reported great losses due to litigations and disputes that may have resulted from an innocently ignorant infringement of the IP rights of other companies. Most firms offering IP services therefore offer advice and counseling on their clients’ IP strategy but also review existing assets to ensure they do not infringe other IP rights. It is also important to monitor other products and services to ensure that other companies are not infringing on one’s own IP. Making the right choice of IP protection, whether patent or trademark or copyright, etc. is essential to ensure that maximum benefits are drawn from intellectual property. Legally protected assets are the most prized assets of any company and therefore directly influence its revenue, market value and strength of brand identity.