Despite Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) possibly being the most valuable asset a business can possess, many companies fail to recognise they own such rights. So what are IPRs and why are they so important?

Intellectual Property allows you to own the work you create arising out of ideas, innovation technology and creativity. In the last 25 years, intangible assets have gone from accounting for 17% of the average company’s value to nearly 70%.  However, many businesses are not aware of the IPRs they may own and incorrectly assume that only large incorporations with profitable brands, logos and patents need to safeguard such rights. 

IPRs protect business and product names, logos, packaging, designs, inventions, technology, artwork, photography, written work, music, dramatic work, trade secrets, computer software and databases, amongst others.  Therefore, all businesses have IPRs, regardless of their size or sector and it is important to identify these rights and safeguard them where possible.  Failing to protect these assets can have serious ramifications on your business. 

By failing to consider IPRs, you are not only potentially damaging your brands and reputation, but also putting your business at risk.  Competitors will be able to steal your designs and ideas and sell copies of your products or use your business name.  If you allow others to copy your work or use your trademarks, inevitably it will also impact upon your company’s earnings.  You may also find that you are inadvertently infringing somebody else’s IPRs and in that scenario you may well find yourself in the highly inconvenient and very costly position of being embroiled in litigation and, potentially, having to withdraw your products and pay damages to the rights holder.

Once IPRs have been identified, you can exploit these rights by selling or licensing them to provide an important revenue stream.  Patents, design rights or trademarks can be licensed to another company in return for royalties.  IPRs can also be exploited through assignments, IP terms within commercial agreements, confidentiality agreements, joint ventures and collaboration.  IPRs can really set your business apart from competitors by offering customers something new and form an essential part of marketing.

To exploit your IPRs fully, it makes strong business sense to do all you can to secure them.  Trademarks, designs and patents should be registered and copyright work should be marked with the © symbol with the name of the copyright owner.  You can then protect it against infringement from others and earn royalties by licensing it or make money by selling it. 

I’m sure you all found that really insightful and is sure to have left you thinking.  Please feel free to comment on the blog or if you have any matters that you need to speak to Joanne about feel free to contact her by following the link below.