The Times newspaper today contained a very interesting Raconteur special report focussing on intellectual property (IP) issues and their impact on the success of British businesses.
10% of the UK economy is made up of so-called intangible assets (ie. intellectual property like trade marks, patents, copyright and design rights), yet still very few businesses seem to be exploiting or protecting their value.
SMEs in particular are often guilty of delaying or ignoring the need to protect their IP. It is however vital that steps are taken to protect new innovations from the start of their life cycle, before others take advantage of them.
Furthermore, when it comes to seeking outside investment, it is crucial that businesses can demonstrate a robust IP portfolio.
A key recommendation from the report was a 3 stage process that every business, whatever their size and budget, should go through when it comes to intellectual property rights:
(1) Identification – every business will own some intellectual property assets. The key is identifying what they are.
(2) Protection – once a business’ IP assets have been identified, the next task is to take steps to protect them. Assets like trade marks and patents require registration through the appropriate body.
(3) Revenue maximisation – once you are satisfied that your business’ key IP assets have been protected, you should consider whether you are maximising their potential as a revenue stream. This includes developing an IP strategy: perhaps licensing your IP assets to others in return for a royalty or selling aspects of your IP portfolio which are no longer required.
The bottom line is that to succeed in today’s challenging economic environment, it is crucial to maximise and make the most of all your business’ assets, tangible or otherwise.
An online version of the Raconteur report can be viewed at www.theraconteur.co.uk.