What I have observed in practice is that many businesses overlook the fact that fundamentally IP is a business asset.
Where the asset is protected by law and exclusive to you its value increases as does the business.
- IP can create an income stream for your business. How? Licensing, patenting and commercially packaging IP as products for profit. This is a sensible way to generate cash flow.
- IP rights will make your business look more attractive to investors
- When selling or merging your IP can increase the value of your business in the market place.
As a business owner you should strategically utilise these IP rights to maintain a competitive edge in the marketplace.
I frequently come across companies registering IP in the UK and not forecasting its worth overseas. This should be reviewed regularly and any attempt to hit an overseas market should flag up the need to register your IP there also.
Can your SME use IP assets for your benefit?
IP can be sold, licensed used as security or used as leverage to secure funds from investors. It is crucial to view your IP not only as a legal asset of your business but also as a financial instrument. Increasingly businesses are securing part or all of their IP against commercial loans and bank financing.
Intellectual Property Disputes
The more valuable the IP assets are, the more likely it is that others will try and copy.
Having acted for numerous clients who are seeking to defend IP infringement claims or seek to bring claims I understand how important it is to act commercially. We must first agree the strategy as sometime rather than fight you can offer it use at a charge or you simply modify your branding.
It is sensible now though to ensure that any contracts provide for any dispute to be referred to mediation. In the same thread my advice to all companies would be to maintain a clear and consistent policy on IP enforcement.
I would encourage you to consider a health check to ensure that you IP rights are adequately protected and exploited. Consider the following:
- Ensure that your contracts and confidentiality agreements secure your IP.
- Consider whether the jurisdictional clauses are suitable to enforce infringement by customers or suppliers, particularly if these are based overseas.
Ensure that your assignment agreements fully control the permitted use granted over your IP. A common example is a third party infringing the IP which has been passed over by a permitted assignee, but the contracts indemnities are so weak that enforcement on the third party often fails
For a competitive commercial health check on your business' IP and how to enhance the attractiveness of IP as an asset for business, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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