When building the value of a business, there is one crucial element that is often overlooked. Too many businesses fail to fully exploit the value of their Intellectual Property (IP).
Practically every company has some form of IP, whether it’s a company or product name, a new technology, a product design, or a logo. This IP adds value by providing a competitive advantage over competitors, and making the business far more attractive to investors. Investors like the monopolies granted by IP, just ask the Dragons!
Failure to recognise IP will almost inevitably mean that a business is not maximising its true value. So every organization, regardless of size or sector, should place generating, capturing and exploiting IP at the forefront of its business planning.
Below are some tips on maximising the value of your IP.
1. AUDIT YOUR IP
Determining exactly what IP rights you have, enables you to properly protect and monetise them.The Intellectual Property Office has a great online IP health check that you can use to audit your own business. If a fuller investigation is required, we advise you instruct an IP professional. Audits should be updated regularly.
2. REGISTER YOUR RIGHTS
Most (but not all) IP rights can be protected through registration. Having established what IP you own, instruct an IP professional to make sure they’re all formally recorded.This makes it easier to prove ownership and enforce these rights.
3. MAKE IT PUBLIC
Using the right symbols in your media and marketing material alerts others to your IP rights.
® = registered trade marks
™ = unregistered trade marks
© = copyright work
Patent and design numbers can also be added to your products.
4. ENFORCE YOUR IP
Infringements of IP can lead to devastating loss of value. Even if you have identified, registered and marked your IP appropriately third parties may still try to imitate it. You should regularly police your marketplace, and take decisive action against any infringers. Intervening at an early stage is often the cheapest and quickest way to limitdamage to your business’ value and reputation.
5. KEEP RECORDS
When it comes to protecting IP, it is essential to keep a thorough record of who did what, when and where. Make sure diligent records are kept safe and dated. These can be used as evidence should you be involved in any legal disputes. Prior to registration, only disclose details of your IP in confidence
6. BE TAX SMART
Maximise the tax incentives of your IP. Under Government schemes such as Patent Box, profits earned from patentsare subject to a lower rate of Corporation Tax.
IP professionals can help you with careful tax planning, to ensure significant reductions in the amount of tax payable on revenues generated by IP rights.
7. PRICE IT RIGHT
By its very nature IP is unique and its value should not be underestimated. Before looking to sell, licence or assign an IP right, check that the price you are placing on it is accurate. Intellectual Property Office guidelines can help with valuation, or you may need to appoint a professional IP valuation expert.
8. KEEP ON TOP OF RENEWALS
To ensure the continuedprotection of trademarks, patents and designs, don’t forget to pay renewal fees. These rights will lapse if you fail to pay fees on time.
9. PUT YOUR IP TO WORK
IP has a limited life span so the quicker you commercialise it, the more revenue it will generate. Ensure you review your IP portfolio regularly to see how effectively it is serving your business. If IP is underutilised or not being used at all, consider the benefit of selling or licensing it to a third party who may value it higher.
10. CREATE AN IP CULTURE
Create a business-wide IP awareness policy, to ensure that all employees understand the importance of IP and the issues surrounding it. Whether you dedicate one person within the business to oversee the registration, protection and monetisation of IP, or you outsource this role to an IP professional, the money you spend will be a sound investment in the future growth of your business.
Find out more at www.safeguardip.com
Safeguard IP are the UK’s only insurance broker dedicated to offering affordable insurance solutionsthat protect the value of Intellectual Property. Safeguard iP’s policies are backed by some of the world’s leading insurers and cover the legal costs of enforcing and protecting IP, the profits lost if IP rights are revoked and the legal costs of disputes with licensees. Our legally qualified team understand IP and its value to you and will provide you with the right protection at the right price. © Safeguard iP 2014