Have you made your business New Year resolutions?
Have you finalised your business goals for this year and have you included an IP Strategy as part of these goals?
Intellectual Property is an integral component of any successful business and includes a company’s patents, trade marks, designs, copyrights and trade secrets.
An Intellectual Property Strategy is a plan, in line with your business goals, to acquire or maintain Intellectual Property assets and to gain the most possible value from such assets.
The key elements to an IP Strategy are as follows;
- Develop and identify innovation, new designs, new brands or new trade secrets (formulas/recipes);
- apply to protect the innovation, designs, trade marks or document the trade secrets;
- renew any existing patents, designs or trade marks;
- value your Intellectual Property, if applicable;
- licence or enter in other agreements taking advantage of your IP or collaborate in the knowledge that your IP is safeguarded; and
- police and enforce your rights against infringers, if necessary.
Having an IP Strategy will provide a competitive edge and it is imperative that it forms part of your business goals.
At a minimum, at the start of a project you should record what is proposed, what problem you are trying to solve and who the inventor is. It is also worth making a list of published documents you are aware of which solve the same problem in a less effective way.
As well as making sure that you protect your own IP, you should also ensure that you do not infringe anyone else’s rights. If you want to use someone else’s IP you may be able to negotiate and come to an agreement, for example buying or licensing the relevant IP.
Be prepared to make your IP work for you. Remember that you could profit by selling or licensing your IP as well as producing a product or providing a service yourself. The better you protect your IP, the easier it tends to be to enforce it.