Understanding what intellectual property your business has, its strength and scope, how to use and leverage it, is a prerequisite for every successful business.
Every single technology, product, improvement to our lives, begins as an idea, as intellectual property.
For most businesses much of their value lies in these intangible assets and intellectual property underpins their potential success. IP is often the result of years of hard work, in some cases costly trial and error and the business owner's passion and innovation.
Despite this, many businesses fail to understand that potentially IP has as high a value as fixed assets do.
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In many cases they may not even catalogue or manage their trade secrets, copyright, trademarks or inventions.
IP can occur in registered and unregistered forms. Registered forms, which we are more familiar with, include things such as patents and trademarks but often it is the unregistered forms which are more important and these may relate to things such as trade secrets and confidential information.
These day-to-day processes, activities and networks are often missed in the conversation around business success as it is easier to focus on tangible elements such as product and service.
Intellectual property is critical because if you have a successful product but weak IP then there is nothing to stop it being copied by competitors. Not surprisingly, the first challenge for the business owner is to understand what is it within the organisation that is IP, how does it work and how is it used. Does the owner know how it is protected and what they have spent to protect it? Answering these questions can assist the business owner understand how he or she can manage and use their IP.
If in trying to answer these questions, the owner realises he really does not know what the IP is or how to manage or protect it, then he or she can seek help to develop an appropriate strategy to protect those intangible elements that are critical to business success.