Your business intellectual property (IP) is much more than just a collection of rights and licenses and having a well organised portfolio of these assets will increase the market value of your business, generate income, give you an edge over your competitors and help you become more efficient as a company.
Today we look into the different types of your intellectual property and how you can utilise this IP to achieve your business objectives.
Types of Intellectual Property
There are two main types of IP: registered and unregistered.
Registered IP is protected in and recognised by the country it’s registered in. In NZ, you register through the national IP office, the Intellectual Property Office of NZ (IPONZ). Registered IP includes:
- Trademarks – ™ or ® symbols attached to brand names or logos
- Designs – the appearance of product designs, packaging, etc.
- Patents – new and invented products, services or materials
Unregistered IP includes:
- Unregistered trademarks – you don’t need to file an application to use the ™ symbol, but this provides limited protection
- Trade secrets – examples include recipes, formulas or customer databases
- Secrecy agreements – contracts such as NDAs and confidentiality agreements
If you’re also based in NZ, check out the IPONZ website for more information about the different IP types, as well as registration and management information.
Benefits to Managing Your Intellectual Property
With an efficient IP strategy that is properly integrated into your overall business plan, there are some important benefits you may not have considered that justify investing in your IP. Here are some of the main pros you should be aware of:
- Saving Time: An IP strategy can streamline the time it takes to maintain or renew rights, making reviewal processes easier.
- Knowing Your Primary Assets: If you already have a clear understanding of which IPs are most profitable, as you review your portfolio you can assess which IPs don’t fit in with your goals, are outdated or generate little revenue. You will also know how many IP forms you are investing in and clarify where you may be missing out on growth opportunities.
- Attracts Investors: With an effective IP management strategy, you are showing that you are committed to innovation, and value protecting capital. This appeals to outside investors and stakeholders by reflecting your diligence, proactivity and strategic thinking.
- Outshining Competition: Since an IP strategy involves being aware of other competitors IP portfolios, you can use that knowledge to take a larger share of market revenue and stand out in the marketplace to customers.
How to Organise Your Intellectual Property
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to designing the perfect organisational strategy for managing your IP. It needs to be catered to the specific needs and qualities of your business. However as a starting point, here is a list of points you should keep in mind when approaching your organisational strategy:
- Make Identifications Early: In the beginning stages of strategising, it’s important to identify what kinds of IP you have, which ones fit with your business growth goals and recognise the different values of each type.
- Create Records: Documentation is hugely important with IP. You want clear, dated records of creators, drawings, plans and prototypes so that you can easily and effectively prove ownership.
- Track Your Timing: The difference between securing and losing the rights to your IP can often come down to issues of poor timing or disclosure, so you must ensure not to procrastinate your IP management.
- Manage IP as an Asset: View your IP as an asset because this will improve how you treat and prioritise it, which can help you achieve the benefits of maximising your IP potential.
- Find Ways to Minimise Costs: Registration and renewal fees can be costly, so it is important to find solutions to reduce the expenses of managing your IP as much as possible.
- Research Competing Portfolios: To boost your profitability, you want to have a keen awareness of other businesses IP portfolios to assess where yours is ahead of your competition, and where you need to make improvements.
No matter what size your business is, you have IP. It’s your responsibility to identify and document it, protect and improve it, and in doing so increase the value of your business.
For more info on getting the most out of your resources including and beyond your IP, download your free eBook here.