In an increasingly competitive world, it can often be difficult for any business to stand apart. It is important to develop a product or service that meets a need and can sell, but it is also crucial to create something unique, which often involves the development of intellectual property (IP). But what exactly is this, and, crucially, how can you protect your IP so that you can maintain and develop your advantage?
What Is IP?
Intellectual property is, essentially, a creation of your mind. It can be a logo, a design, a symbol, an image, a name or even a process. Your IP can help identify the organisation or describe what you do, and even though it may be difficult to assign a monetary value to it, your business will be much worse off without it.
Methods of Protection
It should be possible to protect your IP in law by registering trademarks, asserting copyright or registering patents. But you also need to develop processes and procedures to ensure that you can protect your intellectual property on an ongoing basis.
Using Your IP
To start with, recognise the fact that you do, indeed, have IP. Describe it very clearly and ensure that you develop policies that can be passed across your organisation to all concerned. If possible, make somebody in your organisation responsible for the IP. They can then conduct regular audits to ensure that you are still on track and have identified new IP assets should they arise.
Moving the Idea Forward
Use your existing assets and think about how you could develop, add or augment. Be proactive about your brand identity and be proud of your IP as it stands.
Share with Care
It is sometimes necessary to share IP (images, content, etc.), but be very careful before you do so. Ensure that any partners or contractors who will get access are trustworthy and ask them to sign documentation that can be legally binding.
Standing Your Ground
Some major organisations go to extreme lengths to protect their IP and have a team of lawyers ready to pounce should they discover any issue. While you do not need to go this far, you should certainly think about protective measures and be ready to implement them as and when needed.
Getting Professional Advice
To do this, get in touch with a lawyer who specialises in IP matters. If you haven't already done so, they will help you register any patents with the relevant authorities. They can also develop some procedures for you to implement across your organisation.
For more information, contact a lawyer near you.