Intellectual Property: the ins and outs

Intellectual Property (IP) can be a powerful advantage in the right hands. Metropol catches up with IP specialist and Patent Attorney Virginia Nichols from Saunders & Co Lawyers about how to use IP to your commercial advantage.



Every business has valuable IP, but it is easy for owners or executives to overlook the opportunity to leverage those intangible assets fully for their commercial advantage.

The first step is to perform an ‘IP audit’ to find out what intangible assets your company already has or may need or want.

Many companies underestimate the value and commercial importance of the intangible assets they already own.

IP comes in a lot of different forms, including trademarks and other brand elements, copyright in written text, technical or artistic drawings, photos and videos, know-how and inventions, processes, licences, customer lists and databases.

Every company has different intangible assets, and should regularly consider their IP strategy as part of their evolving business plan.

It is important to ensure all intangible assets are correctly owned and that your trade secrets remain confidential.

There should be clear contracts with employees, contractors, external providers and co-founders.

Many legal disputes arise because the parties were not clear at the outset about who would own the output, or how it is to be used.

This can be avoided by being proactive in getting contractual arrangements right before work starts (or as soon as possible).

Certain types of IP rights are recognised by statute, which can provide a legal monopoly.

Trademark registration is a very effective tool for brand protection and essential for any business involved in either exporting or overseas manufacture.

Patents provide an extremely powerful protection for any new product or process and should be given serious consideration by any innovative enterprise.

The main ways to exploit these intangible assets include:
• Protecting your own market position to keep competitors from copying you
• Licensing others to use your IP, in exchange for an income stream
• Selling some or all of your intangible assets to another company.

As your business plan evolves over time, your IP strategy should do the same.

Leveraging intangible assets can be extremely useful when expanding into new markets.

Now is the time to maximise your IP potential.

For a no-obligations discussion about your current IP strategy, call Virginia on 03 963 1463.


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