Along with human creativity and inventiveness, intellectual property is all around us. Every product or service that we use in our daily lives is the result of a long chain of big or small innovations, such as changes in designs, or improvements that make a product look or function the way it does today. Take a simple product. For example, a pen. Ladislao Biro’s famous patent on ballpoint pens was in many ways a breakthrough. But, like him, many others have improved the product and its designs and legally protected their improvements through the acquisition of IP rights. The trademark on your pen is also intellectual property, and it helps the producer to market the product and develop a loyal clientele.
And this would be the case with almost any product or service in the marketplace. Take a CD player. Patent protection is likely to have been obtained for various technical parts of a CD player. Its design may be protected by industrial design rights. The brand name is most probably protected by a trademark and the music played in the CD player is (or has been) protected by copyright.
So, How Does this Affect Your Business?
Regardless of what product your enterprise makes or what service it provides, it is likely that it is regularly using and creating a great deal of intellectual property. This being the case, you should systematically consider the steps required for protecting, managing and enforcing it, so as to get the best possible commercial results from its ownership. If you are using intellectual property that belongs to others, then you should consider buying it or acquiring the rights to use it by taking a license in order to avoid a dispute and consequent expensive litigation.
Almost every Business has a trade name or one or more trademarks and should consider protecting them. Most business’s will have valuable confidential business information, from customers’ lists to sales tactics that they may wish to protect. A large number would have developed creative original designs. Many would have produced, or assisted in the publication, dissemination or retailing of a copyrighted work. Some may have invented or improved a product or service.
In all such cases, your business should consider how best to use the IP system to its own benefit. Remember that IP may assist your business in almost every aspect of your business development and competitive strategy: from product development to product design, from service delivery to marketing, and from raising financial resources to exporting or expanding your business abroad through licensing or franchising.