Intellectual Property (IP) is actually all around us. From the shoes you wear, to the meal you ordered for lunch, to the device that you are reading this on, they are all protected by IP rights. It is a common misconception for a small business owner to think that IP is reserved for big corporations. In actuality, it is not! Protecting IP can bring massive advantage for businesses, big or small. Read on to know more.
What is Intellectual Property?
Intellectual Properties, or Ips, are the creation of the mind which can be in the form of inventions, literary and creative works, designs, symbols, names, or photography. IP rights can take the form of copyrights, patents, trademarks, design, geographical indication, and trade secrets through registration with the applicable authority.
The benefits of protecting your intellectual property
It gives you certainty.
Ideas have no intrinsic worth if it is not executed and protected. You may have created a unique hijab design or invented a flying vehicle, but you have no legal rights over it as long as the design or invention is not protected. When you have no legal rights over the IP you have created, it opens doors for exploitation. Additionally, suppose you are looking for investment for your business. In that case, uncertainty over your creations may be a turn-off for some investors – it is a sign that there could be a problem with your products, especially in respect of IP, which may affect their investment. Protecting your IP gives you a degree of certainty that no one else can exploit your hard work for profit without your consent, and this may appeal to some investors.
It gives your company value and competitive advantage
Protecting your IP may create value and a competitive advantage in many ways. When your product is unique and different from your competitors, it gives you an edge that may draw customers. For example, there are many exceptional matcha brands out there. Yet, some customers believe that Niko Neko Matcha is a better product than others due to its unique and distinct features and purchase the products for this reason. When a unique and distinguishing feature of a product is protected under the laws governing IP, it allows the business to deliver a unique product or service from its rival, which creates value and drives profit for the business.
It protects your reputation.
A business with a reputation typically has a large number of repeat customers. Reputation is what drives profit for many businesses. Irvins Salted Egg, for example, has a stellar reputation in the market for being a business that produces salted egg flavored chips. It has trademarked its name to protect its reputation so that no other business can claim that they are part of its business. This strategy is essential to protect the business reputation, which can take many years to build.
Now you know the benefit of protecting your intellectual property, where do you go from here?
Research, research, and research
Read up on the types of intellectual property and the requirements of your jurisdiction for each type. Each jurisdiction has different IP regulations, and as such, you need to research on the local requirements before making the application. If you have the budget, you may want to consider getting the advice of a professional who can advise on the IP strategy for your business. It is worth getting professional advice if you are considering commercializing your IP.
Identification of IP assets
After having a general idea of what IP is, the first step is to do an inventory check of intangible assets in your business. Catalogue them and provide a description of what it is, how they are being used, who owns them. From the information gathered, you will be able to identify your core IP and non-core IP. Evaluate the costs and benefits and see whether it is worth pursuing IP protection for a specific asset.
Register your IP assets.
Once you have confidence that it is worth pursuing IP protection for a specific asset, submit the application for IP registration. You may need the help of an IP agent for this. Once you obtain the rights, you can continue to benefit from the rights to support your business.
Constantly keeping yourself updated with the market trends.
If you want to commercialize your IP, the work doesn’t end at the point of registration. Keep yourself updated with the latest development in the market. This will help you to monitor the activities of your rivals and other markets to keep your business to stay relevant.
Without appropriate IP protection, you will miss out on opportunities of licensing your IP to generate long-term business growth, besides losing out to competition. Protecting your intangible assets is extremely important for any business strategy. Trademarks, copyrights, and patents for instance, help to formalize and protect your IP, which can have both an immediate and strategic effect on your business’ position and competitive advantage in the marketplace.
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