We often discuss the challenges that come with protecting and enforcing your rights for an individual copyright, patent or trademark. However, most technology companies have multiple intellectual property assets to manage. Together, these multiple assets comprise a company’s IP portfolio. Strategic management of the portfolio is important to ensure that your IP assets actually cover what you believe they do and to avoid unnecessary expenses–patent renewal fees or registrations in countries/markets that are insignificant to your business, for example.
IP portfolio management
The most important aspect in managing an IP portfolio is to consider all the assets you might have. Everything from patents, to branding elements, to novel business approaches are all part of the mix and should be evaluated.
Once you know everything you have to protect, assess whether you must take additional steps to take ownership. In cases of trade secrets, you may only need to keep doing what you’re doing if you are already taking reasonable steps to keep it private. Obviously, securing patent and trademark rights requires more deliberate action.
You will also want to track value, jurisdictions and ownership information.
Mistakes to avoid
Complications, vulnerabilities and unnecessary costs can arise when a business is not thoughtfully managing its IP portfolio. Thus, it can be crucial to avoid some common mistakes in this endeavor.
- Failing to align your IP portfolio with your business goals. Filing patents on every new innovation, ignoring how your brand is used online, or filing trademark applications in countries where the mark will never be used/enforced can be costly mistakes. Portfolio management should start with a clear understanding of your business goals and how IP assets will protect and create value.
- Not viewing your portfolio as a value generator. Licensing, enforcement and blocking competitors are all ways that IP creates value. In addition, IP portfolios can make a business more desirable to investors and partners.
- Inadequately staffing the IP portfolio management endeavor. There are several moving parts, particularly when there are several assets involved. Having someone on your team to manage the portfolio on an ongoing basis, or engaging an outside intellectual property attorney or firm, is crucial.
When business owners avoid these mistakes and dedicate resources to intellectual property management, they can strengthen their competitive edge.