Developing your intellectual property (IP) strategy is vital in order to protect the value and future of your business.
IP is any original idea or work that has been created by your business. These valuable intangible assets assist your business in remaining competitive, boosting your profits and value of your business as an investment and providing potential for future growth. Consider the following tips so your business can reap the market benefits of your creative work.
Perform an intellectual property audit
Whether your business is just starting up or has undergone a change in ownership, an intellectual property audit will help you determine what steps you need to take to protect your ideas and remain compliant. This process referred to as “due diligence” may include checking public registers for patents, trademarks, designs and any infringement notices. When you identify your IP assets think about the key products and services in your business, what legal rights you possess concerning those products or services and what market advantages are gained from those rights.
Register your IP
Once you have identified your intellectual property assets, formally register them with IP Australia. Although this process incurs costs and takes time, it provides the most significant legal protection. If you do not register your assets, you will have to rely on case law and undergo court processes to prove ownership rather than producing your registered trademark or patent.
Get staff to sign a confidentiality agreement
Your staff, associates or contractors can pose a risk to revealing your intellectual property to others. Consider drafting a confidentiality agreement to protect you if you need to prove a breach in IP. Ensure your contract is concluded before work starts, defines which ideas fall under the business’ ownership and outlines damages in the event of a breach.
Valuing your IP
Building your IP portfolio can be vital in boosting your business value and convincing investors to finance your enterprise for growth. You can value your IP on a cost basis or fair value basis and might consider values from royalties, profits differential, brand strength or incremental cash flows. In the valuing process keep in mind the following assets:
- Patents, trademarks and brand names
- Industrial designs
- Franchises and licences
- Distribution agreements
- Secret processes and formulae
- Information databases, computer systems and software.
Take action for infringements
If there is a breach of your intellectual property, your business should take it upon itself to enforce legal rights. Violations will be determined on the relevant legislation although you may make a complaint about an infringement that is not defined in law. You may only be partially protected depending on what part of your work has been registered. When developing your infringement strategy consider:
- Detection methods like data seeing can quickly identify misuse of your IP
- Plan at what court or tribunal you will turn to consider your legal budget for enforcing your right
- Set clear goals for the outcome of your legal process.