IP Audits, IP Management and IP Strategy
Intellectual property has been identified as the principal driver behind value and wealth creation in the knowledge economy in the 21st century. The effective management of IP assets is therefore critical to every size of business operating in all fields of industrial endeavour.
The ability of a business to competently manage its IP along with the related statutory and common law rights begins with the creation of an inventory of information relevant to the creation, identification, maintenance, use, protection and enforcement of a business’ IP and associated rights. Such an inventory is best created by a business undertaking or having undertaken, an IP Audit.
An IP Audit involves the assessment of a business’ in-house processes and procedures to:
- Create intellectual property and to perfect the appropriate intellectual property rights
- Protect a business from the unauthorised use of IP rights owned by third parties
- Take and maintain an inventory of the business’ IP and IP rights
- Judge the quality and use of a business’ IP and Assess existing and potential IP related disputes.
The IP Audit report will then be used by a business to establish a programme of effective management for its IP assets. Managing a business’ IP assets is more than just about acquiring the formal IP rights through the relevant Intellectual Property Office, as the value in a patent or trade mark can only be derived through utilisation and the most appropriate forms of commercial exploitation. Moreover, part of a business’ valuable IP may not require formal registration but may call for other measures of protection (e.g. confidentiality agreements).
Businesses wishing to extract the maximum value from their know-how and creativity need to take adequate steps to develop effective in-house IP Management and an integral IP Strategy for their business, and seek to integrate it within their overall business strategy. This demands the inclusion of IP considerations when drafting business plans and marketing strategies. A basic IP Strategy would include at least the following:
- A Policy on IP Acquisition: A single product or service may be protected by various forms of IP rights covering different aspects of that product or service. A business must consider the best protection package and make sure that all the formal rights are acquired as early as possible. A business should also bear in mind that creating a comprehensive IP portfolio may be a considerable investment.
- A Policy on IP Exploitation: IP assets may be exploited in a variety of ways. These may include the commercialization of IP-protected products and services; the entering into of licence or franchise agreements; the sale of IP assets to other firms; the creation of joint ventures; the use of IP to obtain access to other business’ technology through cross-licensing agreements; or the use of IP to obtain business finance. A business needs to decide in each case, how it may best exploit its IP assets both domestically and internationally.
- A Policy on IP Monitoring: Regular consultation of patent and trade mark databases is important in order to find out about recent technical developments and new technologies; to identify new licensing partners or suppliers; to identify new market opportunities; to monitor the activities of competitors; to identify possible infringers, and to avoid infringing competitors’ rights.
- A Policy on IP Enforcement: A clear policy on IP enforcement is crucial due to the losses that may be incurred by the existence of counterfeit goods in the market, and the high costs involved in some IP disputes.
ip4all has gained considerable expertise in the conduct of IP Audits and the drafting of IP Audit reports. The reports drafted to date have identified a number of IP related issues the correction of which have led to substantive improvements to the way in which businesses have managed their IP, and as a direct result, have increased the value of their IP assets and their business.
For further information about the IP Audit and IP Management services offered by ip4all, along with advice and assistance with regard to the development of an appropriate IP Strategy for your business, please contact ip4all:
Leeds – 0113 278 9974
Huddersfield – 0148 481 7770
Manchester – 0161 939 0141
Mobile – 0780 054 5089
By e-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
By Post: 3 – 5 Wormalds Yard, off King Street, Huddersfield HD1 2QR