Intellectual property should be thought of as an asset of your business. Even though an intellectual property right is not a “hard asset” that you can touch and move from place to place, it may have considerable value. A trademark may have a value based on the good will of your business.
A patent may have value if it can be used to prevent others from competing with you in the marketplace. For emerging companies, a patent can demonstrate to a venture funding source that you have a “lock” on a competition free technology. A copyright registration may have value because it enables you to sue someone to prevent them from copying your work of authorship and competing with you.
Trademarks become more and more valuable as your business becomes “branded” in the marketplace and your trademarks are more and more recognized as identifying your business’ goods and services.
It is important to become more aware of how your business creates and utilizes intellectual property assets. Perhaps the most obvious is your business own research and development. The products that you develop may include technology that is patentable even though the product may only be a combination of old elements. If those old elements are put together in a new, useful and non-obvious way, the resulting arrangement may be worthy of patent protection as described in this step by step guide for inventors.
Your patent program should always relate to your business strategy. As your business evolves, so should your patent portfolio. You should review your patent portfolio regularly as your products and services change. It can be helpful to watch the patents that issue to your competitors so note trends in your industry and keep you aware of R&D by others.
US patent applications are now published 18 months after they are filed. They are no longer kept secret until they are issued as patents. If a particular technology is important to your fending off competition in an important product line or service, it is worth extra thought and investment in protecting that technology. There are patenting agencies, such as InventHelp, that can help you with patents.
Thinking about your intellectual property assets should be a significant part of your business activity. Set up your business practices to bring to light creative efforts that can be protected as intellectual property and then develop and guard those assets as you would other assets. Encourage the disclosure of ideas and reward their disclosure. Make intellectual property a part of your business culture. You may find some gold in them there hills.