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Intellectual Property Management is an area in business that many organizations overlook, in terms of the potential for generating revenue. It is undoubtedly a significant contributor to corporate value, and yet its inherent intangibility means it often plays second fiddle to more tangible assets, in terms of active management. Getting to grips with Intellectual Property Management within your business is a key factor in increased success, though, and this becomes clear when you consider the varied revenue streams of your organization.
The term ‘Intellectual Property’ is often associated with more creative industries, where ideas are widely acknowledged as being a currency. The notion of ideas being a currency is something that applies to all sectors, however, because it involves most of the things you are doing in order to move your enterprise forward. It involves all of your revenue streams. Everything from your branding to your product development; from your proprietary techniques and procedures to research and development plans – each area requires effective Intellectual Property Management. When you achieve this, you can increase revenue through new markets, investment opportunities, the development and expansion of innovative ideas, and also through lower operating costs.
What is Intellectual Property Management?
With Intellectual Property playing such a fundamental role in every area of your business, the need for its effective management becomes clear. Just as the implementation of effective management of your supply chain and your contracts system brings order to those areas, so taking control of your Intellectual Property can bring tighter control to your entire operation.
It is, first and foremost, an exercise in centralization and standardization, because, in order to manage something, you must first bring it all together, identify, and catalog it. This process will include:
- Patents – these protect your ideas;
- Trademarks – these protect the value that indicates the source, such as your logos and branding;
- Copyright issues – these involve the medium through which your ideas are expressed, in reports, drafts, or proposals, for example.
Within these specific examples, you’ll find your designs and domain names and even proposed joint ventures or partnerships. Everything relating to innovation within your organization will also be included through its relationship to these areas.
The process of Intellectual Property Management reflects the Intellectual Property lifecycle, from conception and identification to protection and enforcement. This involves:
- Auditing the Intellectual Property within your business – this is essentially an inventory procedure in which Intellectual Property of all types are identified and assessed in terms of scope, ownership, and status. This assessment will also review:
- Management and maintenance issues;
- Exploitation potential;
- Ongoing innovation;
- Evaluation of protection and preservation procedures.
- Protection and preservation of Intellectual Property within your business – this is the point at which agreed remedial actions are undertaken to ensure that your Intellectual Property is secured, and productive.
In its entirety, Intellectual Property Management can be viewed as Portfolio Management, with a pro-active approach that optimizes the commercialization of your business and, as such, it is part of your obligatory due diligence. By taking this approach, your teams are able to incorporate into their workflow the regular review of due dates, milestones, dynamic risk, and assessments for decision-making, ensuring that your Intellectual Property remains readily available, and inaccessible order, for the future of your business.
Your Intellectual Property Management is very closely related to your Contract Management system because it will inevitably involve licensing agreements, as well as possible Non-Disclosure Agreements. To that end, the systems of management of these two areas are very similar and boast many of the same features.
Why is Intellectual Property Management important?
When you take control of your Intellectual Property, you unlock the full potential of your business. By undertaking a full inventory of your Intellectual Property, it is possible to ensure that every commercial opportunity is exploited to the fullest extent. Indeed, it is about what you do with the information gathered in an Intellectual Property audit that can make all the difference to your success.
From a purely commercial perspective, having control of each, individual Intellectual Property component allows you to push forward with projects, joint ventures, partnerships, and mergers in a timely fashion – keeping decision points and pathways on track, and ensuring deadlines and milestones are regularly and reliably met. It also provides the opportunity to explore under-developed ideas and pending projects in a way that is more efficient, in terms of timescale and resources. By identifying the departments and employees that are generating the Intellectual Property of the most value, and at the highest rate, you are also able to deploy your resources in a way that better supports such innovation.
Similarly, effective Intellectual Property Management can play an important role in attracting new investment, as well as boosting the confidence of current investors and shareholders. When Intellectual Property assets are fully quantified and valued, the true commercial value of your enterprise – beyond equipment, premises, and trained staff – is revealed. This is vital for stakeholders, vendors, and even potential debtors, and can help your organization speed any future legal proceedings with regard to financing.
Where Intellectual Property is fully audited and identified, the management process also provides you with a real opportunity to cut out the deadwood – addressing the end of the Intellectual Property lifecycle. Over time, while some components of the Intellectual Property within your business will remain viable and valuable, some components will decrease in value, and cease to be useful. These components take up space and consume resources while providing no real return on that investment. Your business can be made more efficient and streamlined by excising these inactive items and focusing resources on more productive Intellectual Property.
From an administrative perspective, taking control of your Intellectual Property through the introduction of stringent management strategies both streamlines and protects your operation. Centralizing and standardizing procedures and processes around Intellectual Property reduces risk exposure, including exposure to third party property protections, as well as to adverse influences. It also limits your liability from shareholders, because it reduces the potential for such exposure, as well as reducing the waste of resources, and the possibility of assets being lost.
Proper Intellectual Property Management protects your legal rights, as well as ensuring that preparations are made for international issues, which are inevitable when dealing with patents, trademarks, and copyright law across multiple territories. Working to protect your legal rights in this way can help prevent costly litigation, as well as those difficulties surrounding regulation and compliance in terms of industry-related legislation – all of which can have a negative impact on the financial and reputational health of your enterprise.
Just like everything in the world of business, approaches to effective Intellectual Property Management have evolved over time, in line with technological advances in the digital age. Gone are the days of cabinets filled with file folders, and of keeping track of timelines using emails. Now, centralized storage with secure, global access is key to bringing Intellectual Property under control and ensuring it remains productive in terms of revenue generation.
The best Intellectual Property Management software packages provide all the tools required to truly get to grips with your Intellectual Property. With Symfact, when Intellectual Property Management software is fully customized and tailored to your operation, it provides a platform for pro-active management and general overview, while also facilitating detailed views of all aspects of your Intellectual Property portfolio. It also allows for integration with existing software packages, including accounting systems, and the export of reports. This high level of automated coordination of processes and assessments gives your business a real competitive edge.
The basics of Intellectual Property Management - such as identification, categorization, and cataloging, as well as due dates control and valuation – are made quicker and more efficient, while accurate reporting provides controlled transparency that supports compliance. The software can store the detail on all the relevant laws and regulations for the industry in question, from an international perspective, while making that detail accessible to your whole team. In addition, incidents of non-compliance are captured, reported, and automatically assigned for investigation, putting your company in the driver’s seat of any issues that may need to be addressed. This provides the opportunity for accelerated decision-making and quick remedial action.
Accurate, customized reporting can provide the kind of detailed insight that drives growth and productivity, too. This type of data can reveal your most prolific creators of Intellectual Property, including the results of their innovation, and therefore its value. It can also help to map out snapshots of relationships between Intellectual Property and licensing agreements and contracts. This goes further to assist with the tightly controlled management of project timescales, and therefore the management of cost.
The automation provided by Intellectual Property Management software provides an opportunity to re-deploy resources for increased efficiency across your operation. Standard Intellectual Property processes, such as invention disclosure, are easily automated, though the manual management of such stages would have taken up a great deal of staff time. Such automation is achieved with a central library of forms, along with configurable notifications and alerts to prompt either pro-active, responsive, or remedial actions.
Perhaps most importantly, automation in Intellectual Property Management software makes it far easier to monitor and regularly review your Intellectual Property assets. Intellectual Property Management is not a one-off housekeeping task, and nor is it something that ends with the successful implementation of a software package. Regular monitoring, auditing, review, and assessment of your Intellectual Property assets, on an ongoing basis, will ensure compliance, risk mitigation and reduction, and revenue generation for the future of your business. The automation aids consistency and consistency is key.
Consistency is key to protecting your trade secrets
Of all the vital features now available in Intellectual Property Management software, consistency is key. If your Intellectual Property is to be controlled and exploited to its fullest potential, a consistent approach is required. This is achieved with the high level of automation within the software, along with the centralization and standardization of your Intellectual Property inventory. In this way, consistency ensures your Intellectual Property inventory will survive employee turnover, as well as market shifts and economic stresses. The Intellectual Property of your business therefore remains a central entity, regardless of the passage of time.
Consistency also makes it easier to identify issues – not just with governance and compliance, or with missed opportunities, but also with trade secrets. Trade secrets form an important part of your Intellectual Property inventory, but do not necessarily exist in such a form that they can benefit from the protections offered by patents, trademarks, or copyright legislation. Trade secrets usually have very high commercial value, however, which is why vigilance through consistency in Intellectual Property Management is as important as digital and physical security. Trade secrets are often another way in which your Intellectual Property Management intersects with Contract Management because Non-Disclosure Agreements and Non-Compete Clauses can be involved – indicating how closely related your Intellectual Property is to the legal interests of your enterprise.
The digital age has delivered a great many benefits to businesses around the world, including the increased automation of Intellectual Property Management. However, it also delivers an increasing number of ways in which Intellectual Property – including trade secrets – can be misappropriated, or even stolen outright. Of all the data businesses are obliged to protect, it is Intellectual Property that is of the highest commercial value.
Consistency helps combat the possibility of Intellectual Property theft or misappropriation. The standardized, centralized approach, along with secured access and controlled transparency, means that nothing happens within the Intellectual Property Management software system without leaving a visible trail. Access, workflow, investigations, decisions, and version histories are all fully trackable, searchable, and available through customized reporting.
This level of security cannot be achieved without fully configurable, flexible Intellectual Property Management software – and that is exactly what Symfact is able to provide. Contact us today to book your software demonstration, and get to grips with your Intellectual Property Management.