1. How can IP help your business?Have you thought about how IP can provide your business with competitive edge and how it may be important in facilitating business finance as your SME develops? Why would a third party invest if there is nothing to stop rivals from copying your ideas and innovation?
2. What?s in your portfolio?Any business with an IP portfolio of any substance should plan, at the very least, to conduct an annual patent portfolio review to determine what it owns and, just as important, how it uses its IP. A thorough portfolio review provides a more detailed understanding of your patent assets and how those patents are categorised in terms of the ?real-world? products and technologies that drive your market sector. It also helps to know what your competitors are up to. Making an assessment of competitors? patents will help you to ring fence your innovations, benchmark against the market, track the evolution of fledgling inventions, and identify potentially lucrative opportunities for monetising your patents.
3. Where?s the real value?This is all about assessing how well your portfolio is aligned with your strategic business goals, as well as the relative strength of all patents within the portfolio. For example, new technologies may be relevant to multiple applications, so it?s vital to ensure that your patent coverage is broad enough to protect moves into new product areas.
4. Maximising valueOnce you?ve identified those assets that must be protected at all costs, you can then consider how to maximise the value of your IP. You can realise value in a number of ways. It could be in the form of monetising strong patent assets which, while no longer core to your current commercial activity, may still have significant market value. This is generally done by licensing or selling IP rights to another party. Or you could look for cost savings – via avoiding ongoing maintenance fees – by abandoning underperforming assets. Although most would think that IP management is a luxury only necessary for the international tech or pharma behemoths spending vast amounts on R&D, that isn’t so. Whatever the size of your business, you?ll have intangible assets which underpin your commercial activities. Rest assured, it will cost you a great deal more ? maybe your livelihood ? if you don?t bother to protect your ?crown jewels?. Haydn Evans is Vice President of Intellectual Property Service Solutions at CPA Global, one of the world?s leading providers of IP management software and services. Haydn works with a range of clients in sectors such as technology, telecommunications, electronics, chemical, pharmaceuticals, and biotechnology.
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