How IP can work for you
Here are ten tips to help you get your intellectual property (IP) strategy right.
Identify your IP
You may not know it but your new business may have a wealth of IP. From the name on your door, to an innovative new process - there will be things that help differentiate you from your competitors. As your business grows, so to will the importance of these intangible assets.
Understand your options
Understand the different types of IP and the advantages of each one. Patents protect inventions; design registration protects their look. A registered trade mark protects brand names, logos, original sounds and scents, and even aspects of packaging. Or you may want to rely on rights such as copyright or trade secrets, which do not need to be registered.
Keep it confidential
Keep your idea confidential until it is protected. If talking to others about your idea, use a confidentiality agreement to prevent them from disclosing your idea without permission. An IP Professional can prepare a confidential agreement for you.
Protect your idea or brand by registering it
Protect your idea using the IP system to register a patent, trade mark, design or plant breeder's right.
Be cautious in commercialisation
Where practical, build a model of your invention to help prospective financial backers visualise your smart idea and its market potential. However, do not let anyone see it without having a confidentiality agreement in place first.
Also, if you have an invention, be cautious not to chase money in relation to that invention before lodging an application for patent protection. Commercial use or even an exhibition of the invention prior to filing a patent application may destroy your chance of receiving a patent.
Track your costs
Keep track of all your development and protection costs to help put a value on your IP and give you an idea of how profitable your venture needs to be to recover your costs.
Research your market
Research your potential market and understand the likely consumers, buyers, licensees, investors, manufacturers and distributors. This will help you work out your unit cost and should give you a basis to see if your product or service is competitive. It will also assist you to avoid infringing the IP rights of others.
Get business know-how
To commercialise your idea you need a variety of business skills. Get educated, and also take advantage of support groups such as inventors' associations, your local business enterprise centre and government agencies for assistance. However, before taking major steps, invest in quality professional advice.
Work out a commercialisation strategy
There are different ways to make money from IP. You can sell it, license it or make products yourself. It might be more profitable in some cases not to manufacture your idea yourself. You can seek professional advice before entering into contractual agreements with others.
Beware of infringement
Keep an eye out for anyone who may infringe your IP. They can erode your market share and poor-quality imitations can quickly ruin your brand's reputation.
You can seek professional advice to help you decide on the best course of action against infringers. You may need to take legal action, but infringers can often be stopped without having to resort to this.
Last Updated: 30/4/2013