Intellectual property (IP) is an often overlooked, but nearly always valuable asset to a business or entrepreneur. For larger organizations, it has become easy to let the legal department handle the detail of IP, but this could actually be stifling development.
“CEOs must now be able to formulate strategies that capitalize on and maximize the value of their company’s intellectual property assets to drive growth, innovation and cooperative relationships with other companies.”Bill Gates (@BillGates), Microsoft
This may very well be a large part of the reason “innovative” coincides with startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs. These people and teams are not only intimately aware of their IP, they understand it is what drives their success. A day where it slips to someone else is a day the company has reached acquirement or lost reign over their previously unexplored territory.Intellectual property is what drives organizational success. Learn how to manage it properly… Click To Tweet
The Risk-Reward Factor
The IP are all the patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets that provide structural integrity to a business’ strategic direction. Venture Capitalists know return on investment can be quickly flipped by these elements. Correctly filed and protected IP stand a better chance of value, and give the creator the chance to innovate freely, creating a sustainable product or service with a leg up on competition. Of course, incorrectly documented or managed IP can provide the very opposite and subjects a VC to being surpassed by competition.
Bear in mind, the US has made efforts to reform patent enforcement and patentability, which provide a new degree of complication. The timing of and way to approach IP will vary based on factors like the industry it falls within, but establishing a strategy for IP cannot go ignored. Take these tips into account no matter what direction your IP is taking.
Keep Performance Goals in Mind
When creating a product or service, we’re answering a question and/or solving a problem. Whichever the case, goals often look rather vague early on in development because of the broad focus of finding a solution to one established question or problem. While understandable in the early stages of product/service development, pushing past the easily stated is the basis of a solid IP strategy.
The IP should align with the stated business plan initially, but account for the future as well. Quantify those goals to work with the objectives of your corporate strategy. What this does is add clarity to a process that is easily manipulated for loopholes, and considers advanced marketability. For some industries, this might mean premium pricing during patent protection, while other industries are based more on features and performance.
Know Your Inventory and Rights
List all your IP. It’s important to practice due diligence when it comes to IP because missing something now, could mean substantial loss of rights in the future. Take stock of your inventory and review the status of all IP, including what is protected and registered and what isn’t. If you have trade secrets, identify them and create procedures to keep them safe. Review your licenses of operations, warranties, indemnifications and anything that can impact the release and operation of your product/service.
It’s important to collect all agreements, settlements and non-disclosures (including those of employees) for this as well. It’s best to always have these organized in one place anyway. It’s the rights to your product/service, which means the very foundation of your business, and should be traded as such. In simplest terms, keep your files up-to-date and accurate.
Follow Your Rules with the Intent to Make New Ones
There’s a famous saying that in order to break the rules, you must first know them. There’s also a saying that innovators are those who are brave enough to challenge the status quo. Luckily for you, you not only know the rules, you own them. When handled with care, IP gives companies the freedom to take their ideas even further than they thought possible. Don’t stop there. Take advantage of the edge by continuing to brainstorm ways to make it better or what additions can be made to further growth. Continue to conduct competitive research and intel so that you remain relevant with the ecosystem.
The one rule that can never be broken, however, is breaking your own IP. Sounds contradictory? Only a little. The basic of it is that when you use your registered IP externally, practice consistency. Do not damage the IP you’re trying to hold dear. The same goes for outside usage. Familiarize yourself with anti-counterfeit protection when it comes to sales, advertising, marketing and any other brand/image affecting moves.
At its heart, IP impacts innovation, creativity and the control of knowledge assets. Despite being an intangible asset, IP can be managed to drive innovation and help the bottom line. For three decades, IP rights have expanded across the globe. New procedures and processes continue to be made available that give even more options to decision makers that can help carry out specific IP strategies. Even the recent tightening in the United States of patentability standards and enforcement rewards companies that take advantage of as many new protection and freedom-to-operate options as they can. All of this depends on the recommendations here: a company’s ability to articulate its IP strategy, and then list, use and score all of its IP.
Before you do anything with company IP, give your creators/inventors/authors/developers the recognition they deserve. The best way to gain a culture of innovation is to encourage innovation in the first place. Appreciation is the golden ticket. Another great way is to keep up with your industry. Lucky for you, we at Talent Tech Labs are always researching Talent Acquisition Software and even share our findings. Download our latest Talent Acquisition Trends Report to see the latest on innovations.