The new year is upon us and, as is the case with many business owners returning to the office, the perspective provided by some sunshine and time away prompts a fervour of enthusiasm for new projects or maybe some action on long-delayed but necessary house-keeping.
Often the focus is on securing new talent and resources or perhaps even taking the plunge on an overdue capital expenditure in order to ensure you’re well equipped for the year ahead.
The objective of such action is often to maintaining assets of the business and promote continued growth. However, often just as valid a consideration should be whether the business is ensuring it is protecting and best leveraging its intangible assets such as valuable Intellectual Property (IP).
IP protection is not set and forget. It needs recurring attention, nurturing and often some tender loving care.
Among key questions business owners should be asking in this period of taking stock are:
- Do we fully appreciate the extent of the current IP in the business?
- Have we added new brands, product lines, trade secrets, designs or inventions to our processes or business offering over the last year? If so, do these need registration or some other form of protection?
- Are our current IP registrations (such as trademarks, patents and registered designs) still valid and appropriate given changes which may have occurred? For example, have we changed our logo, updated our corporate identity or improved a patented invention?
- Is our IP protection strategy still appropriate given the locations in which we operate and market our products or services? For example, are international registrations now required for our IP?
The IP assessment should also expand more broadly taking into consideration other factors which may impact your IP in the present environment. Broader questions that should also be asked include:
- Are our staffing contracts up to date to ensure our employees and contractors properly assign IP rights to the company? Do they contain appropriate obligations of confidentiality?
- Are our contracting arrangements with our suppliers and clients drafted to ensure our IP is not exploited in unauthorised ways?
- Have there been any advancements in technology, changes in the marketplace or the legislative environment which we can leverage to advance and better protect our IP?
IP like any asset requires ongoing maintenance and a company’s efforts to safeguard its IP should be continually assessed to ensure they remain appropriate and maximise the value to the business.
If you would like assistance in establishing an IP protection regime or some help assessing whether your current IP protection efforts are effective, then get in touch.
We can help make your IP feel special again.
Joseph Carneli, Senior Associate