Protecting

Is your Intellectual Property utilised?

Intellectual Property has too long been seen as a guard against imitators and should be better used forging partnerships and raising valuations, Sean Hargrave Discovers.

There are two major problems with the way the business world considers intellectual property (IP). Many companies see a patent, trademark or registered design mainly as a defensive measure and so will not look beyond these protective rights and consider what other IP the business might own.

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Safeguarding your Intellectual Property assets

200x200-Martin2.jpgIntellectual property is about much more than just patents and your firm must protect these assets, writes Martin Brassell, chief executive of Inngot

To get an idea of the strategic importance of “intellectual assets” in general, take a look at how value is assigned to FTSE 100 companies. Back in the 1980s, market capitalisation and balance sheet asset values followed each other closely. But look at the top businesses today and you will find that up to 80% of their value no longer relates to “hard assets”. The difference is accounted for by a whole range of intangibles, which need to be properly protected.

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Protecting your Intellectual Property: The answer could be right under your nose

By Martin Brassell, Chief Executive, Inngot.com | Computerworld UK |

Compare a company’s market capitalisation with its tangible assets and you’ll find a gap of up to 75%, which IP experts assure us rests in intangible assets.

However, in a survey, the Intellectual Property Office who issue patents in the UK found that 86% of UK businesses were either ignorant or misinformed about how to protect and make best use of these “valuables”. The survey was conducted in 2006, but there is little evidence that things have improved since.

If UK plc is to pull its way out of recession based on innovation (as the government seems to believe), companies need to get better at understanding their intellectual assets, and leveraging their knowledge and technology to get finance and business through the door.

The IPO says the problem is particularly acute among smaller businesses: “SMEs and the mass of micro-enterprises (businesses with 0-9 employees) which form the cradle of IP and future large companies are in the main effectively unaware of the IP system”.

This assessment does seem unduly pessimistic, and reflects the fact that current debate too often focuses on formal registered rights, especially patents, as being synonymous with IP.

There is no doubt that for some businesses patents are helpful or even essential, but they do not sit well with knowledge economy companies, especially those whose innovations lie in software.

The patenting process often requires specialist expertise, making it costly (officially estimated at up to €50,000 for an EU patent) and time-consuming: the fastest I have personally encountered took some 17 months from filing to publication date, and 2-3 years is more normal.

In a world moving towards increasingly open models of innovation, this combination of high cost, lengthy time to market and defensive intention makes patents an appropriate option only in a limited number of situations.

In fairness to the IPO, strong rights should be backed by rigorous processes, and these will take time – once an application has been submitted, the IPO checks it against existing published patents, and if the application passes this process then a patent is granted, normally in the two to three year time period.

But many small firms now question how advantageous these rights really are in practice, given that their large competitors often have sufficient financial muscle to render patents very difficult to enforce.

Surely the answer is broader and simpler – it’s to make more of copyright. While it’s recognised that copyright is fundamental to creative works, many of which are now digital, its importance as the underlying right to protect all types of software is not well understood, other than in the context of piracy.

Copyright is automatic and it’s long lasting; it’s remarkably consistent internationally; it can be used to sell, assign, transfer or licence intangible assets; it can even be assigned in works that are not yet complete.

In working with young businesses over many years I learnt to be wary of any proposition that seemed to require legislative change. The good news for business in the digital age is that we already have the legal framework we need – we just have to capitalise on it better.

Martin Brassell is CEO of inngot Limited- It provides a safe and secure place for IT companies to register their intangible assets enabling companies to ‘showcase’ their IP to find customers, partners and investors.
He is also a South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) Hub Director, working to assist high potential new ventures.

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Inngots profiling system explained – Intellectual Property

A video on intellectual property based around inngots recently new and improved Profiling system which helps identify and capture organisations innovations.

It can sometimes be hard to separate an organisations intellectual property from the rest of the company. Inngot’s profiling system helps separate your intangibles from your organisation; a crucial part to utilising and making the most of your IP.

Identify, explain and promote your intellectual property and intangible assets. Our web tools will help you capture and identify not only intellectual property like copyright, patents, designs and trade marks but also value producing intangibles like trade secrets, special processes, specialist technical know-how and brand reputation — over 40 different types in total. Up to 75% of a company’s value can be hidden within its intangible assets. Make the most of yours by using Inngot’s profiling tool today.

Check out our new video and let us know what you think. Subscribe to our blog to keep up to date with future posts.

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