Do you have an IPR strategy?
A well thought-out strategy for this can give your business an important and lasting competitive edge. Correct use of these rights will then be just as important to commercial success as funding, marketing and sale.
Businesses with effective IPR strategies equate their intellectual property rights (patents, trademarks and designs) with other assets in their accounts.
Example: An MP3 player may well be protected by patents for the various technical components that make it possible to listen to music. The design is the appearance of the MP3 player as a whole or individual elements such as buttons, screen, audio keys or equivalent items which can be protected by design registration. The name of the product is often protected by a trademark such as iPad or Sony. The most familiar forms for a trademark may be a figure or a word so that the product is recognised and can be directly or indirectly differentiated from other products. The music you listen to is protected by copyright, but unlike patent, trademark and design registration it is not possible to protect copyright by registration.
Management and development: IPR or intellectual property assets in a business need to be managed and developed just like other assets. Registered trademarks, patents and designs are part of this, but skills of staff and your own products are at least as important. This is developed through active knowledge management with procedures and activities that address this, for example:
- Enter into agreements with employees on the rights to work and inventions
- Information security and non-disclosure, agreements with your own employees, consultants and subcontractors of the company (NDAs)
- Regularly analyse both skill needs and the status of your own rights. Prepare an IPR strategy
- Clarify rights to your own products. There is a risk of infringing the rights of others if you do not have good internal procedures to investigate this. Clarifying this reduces the financial risk of developing products that cannot be sold.