Intellectual Property (IP): Are You an Ostrich or a Peacock?
IP is what distinguishes your company from another; it is often the main driver of revenue and can be one of the main reasons customers buy your products and services.
US companies have a different attitude towards commercialisation of IP rights. Generally, US companies establish a strategy of recording and protecting their IP rights around their key revenue streams which protects and maximises their revenue. Also, they pursue other business opportunities such as licensing technology, where strong IP protection is available.
In the UK, small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) typically take one of three approaches to IP.
The first two could be said to be like an ostrich with its head in the sand, often acting when it is too late. SMEs adopting the third approach are more like a peacock; confident and proactive.
- IP ignorant– they do not need (or want) to consider IP rights.
- IP passive– they are aware of IP, but do not act unless absolutely necessary.
- IP focussed– they plan to protect their IP rights, avoid competitor’s IP, and create business opportunities around their IP.
Which approach to IP does your company take?
Being IP ignorant or IP passive is risky.
It means your valued brands, products and services could be exposed and open to a competitor to copy them. At best, this can dilute your brand and adversely affect the potential revenue streams and profitability of your company. At worst, it can be extremely detrimental to the future viability of your company, for example, if you are alleged or found to be infringing a competitor’s IP.
Taking a proactive approach means:
- establishing a robust strategy for recording and protecting the IP around the key revenue streams in your company
- maximising profitability and leveraging commercial control in the markets in which you operate.
If your profitability relies on creativity and innovation then you really need to take an IP focussed approach, and consider developing an IP strategy for your key products or services within your budgetary constraints.
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