Intellectual Property (“IP”) is a broad term used to describe intangible property resulting from a creative act or process. This typically includes patents, trade marks, designs and copyright. This is in contrast to tangible property such as land, buildings, factories, vehicles, raw materials, etc. However, just because something is intangible, it doesn’t make it any less valuable. In fact the opposite is often true.
IP can be the most valuable asset of a business. For example, the APPLE™ brand, widely regarded as the most valuable in the world, is estimated to be worth US$154 billion*. That’s right 154 BILLION.
Whether a multi-national pharmaceutical giant or a regional restaurant chain, every business is affected by IP.
By its nature, a business’s IP is unique to it. It could be an invention, an innovative process, a product design, branding or a combination of all of these. Ultimately, your IP creates a market advantage and sets your business apart from others. Your IP rights symbolise what your business represents to your customers, whether this be your approach, levels of creativity or the quality and value of your products and services. Being the first to do something, or becoming a market leader, is worth protecting and gives you the competitive edge.
IP rights, particularly trade marks and brands, are key to the promotion and marketing of your business. Today’s consumers have an abundance of choice so fostering and maintaining brand loyalty is an important factor in any successful business.
Legally protected and enforceable IP rights can be used to prevent competitors from piggy backing on your investment, hard work and innovation. Securing adequate protection in the first place creates a strong legal basis to stop foul play. More often than not, merely securing protection avoids expensive litigation in the future.
IP rights can also function as an important revenue stream for businesses and individuals. Rights can be sold or licensed to generate on-going income. Just like tangible assets, properly protected IP rights can also be used as a means to raise finance and secure investment.
Knowing what to protect and when to do so is key to any business’s success. Protecting valuable Intellectual Property can make the difference between securing the long term success of your business, or losing out to a competitor.
* source Forbes 2016 brand listing