Intellectual property (IP) is a company’s or individual’s asset that is used to create new products. It is a type of asset created by the capability of the human mind that is legally protected to ensure that only the owner can benefit from using it.
Intellectual property is based on the idea that some ideas are just as valuable as physical assets and can be utilized to generate revenue. Today, most countries provide intellectual property protection.
Intellectual Property (IP) Examples
- Patents: A patent is a legal right that is granted for a new invention. The invention could be a product, a process, a manufacturing process, a design, or an improvement on an existing idea. Patents grant the owner exclusive rights to use them. It must be approved by the appropriate authorities before it can go into effect and has a life span of about 20 years.
- Copyrights: These are the rights granted to any literary work that is created. It takes effect the day the work is completed and does not require approval from anyone.
- Trademarks: They are any pattern, design, symbol, or other insignia that symbolizes a brand and can easily be used to distinguish it from other brands. It is assigned to a single brand, and a trademark cannot be assigned if something similar to it has already been registered by another brand.
- Trade secrets: As the name implies, trade secrets are a company’s unique method of performing a task or producing a product that gives the company an advantage over its competitors. NDAs protect it, and no special rights are granted to it. Its anonymity provides the best defense.
Need for Intellectual Property Strengthening
This article will focus on patents specifically. IPs are assets that, when used properly, can provide the owners with a significant advantage over their competitors, whether in terms of revenue, efficiency, limiting their opponents, or any other way. As a result, most businesses attempt to file for IP rights as soon as the IPs are created.
Developing new intellectual properties is a difficult task for anyone. Companies waste a lot of skilled labor, money, and time developing new intellectual property. Companies try to strengthen their IPs in order to better protect them from being used without payment by others.
The greater the strength of the IPs, the better protected they are against third-party infringement and the more benefits they provide to their owners.
The scope of protection provided by intellectual property (patents) determines its strength. If the scope is limited, others can use the innovation or invention instead.
How Do Businesses Strengthen Their Intellectual Property (IP)?
Companies are constantly looking for ways to strengthen their intellectual property (especially patents). To be effective, a strong patent portfolio must cover a wide range of protection. Companies use a variety of methods for this, including:
1. Acquiring Patents from Solo Inventors
Patents necessitate investment in order to develop products based on them, which is often prohibitively expensive for solo inventors. Furthermore, not all patents are marketable. As a result, companies pay a fee to purchase patent rights from individual investors. In this way, the inventor receives monetary compensation for his invention, and the company can broaden the scope of its research, thereby strengthening its existing patent portfolio.
2. Company Acquisition
A company may acquire another company directly. As a result, all of the acquired company’s existing patents and intellectual property (IP) are added to the buyer company’s portfolio.
3. Talent Acquisition
Businesses are constantly looking for skilled employees who can add value to their operations. They hire these skilled workers and give them opportunities and resources to work in specific domains. The innovative ideas and inventions they develop become the company’s property and are used to expand their IP portfolio.
4. Collaboration with Other Companies
Companies will sometimes collaborate with other companies to research and file for joint ownership of the intellectual property created. This is done when a single company cannot complete the research on its own. They benefit from the research while also strengthening their intellectual property (IP) portfolio.
5. File Ideas/Innovation Early
Companies use provisional applications to protect their ideas early in order to improve their patent portfolio. In a provisional application, the applicant is not required to provide complete details of the invention and can only provide a general idea of the invention. By filing a provisional application, the company gains an additional year to work on the invention and determines whether it has marketable value and whether it will add to the company’s portfolio.
6. PCT (Patient Cooperation Treaty) International Application
Companies file a PCT international application to strengthen their portfolio, allowing them to seek protection for their inventions in more than 150 countries worldwide under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
7. The best offense is a good defense
Companies strengthen their intellectual property (patents) by checking the validity of the patent before someone else does. This accomplishes the following goals:
The company can determine whether the patent is strong enough to withstand an infringement suit. The company then performs another invalidation check to identify new prior art that could invalidate the patent. Following the invalidation check, the company may modify the patent’s claims (by changing its claims) to strengthen the patent. After the patent’s strength has been verified, the company can determine whether it can be used in infringement cases, which are expensive and time-consuming.
Intellectual property is an important asset for any company and is constantly under threat of being invalidated if not properly strengthened and protected. It is critical to file for IP protection (patents and trademarks) as soon as possible to avoid being exploited and infringed upon.
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