Be you anyone, a tech startup, a media organization, or a software developer, it goes without saying that you will be creating a lot of intellectual property which has the potential of being monetized. But, wait, what is an intellectual property? What is the ambit of IP?
Well, anything that is a creation of the mind, of the intellect, is IP. It may be the content on your website, the design/shape of your product, the codes on your software, or the packaging and looks of your product, almost everything comes under the ambit of IP. And, having an IP strategy for your startup serves the best purposes in the long run. Here is a brief of overview of why it’s important for you to have a well established IP strategy:
- To Prevent Copying/Imitation: The world is full of imitators and copycats. The more appealing your content/product is, more are the possibilities of they being copied and thus, lesser are the chances of protecting your individuality and the brand. Not protecting your work legally can leave you weaponless when something seriously goes wrong. Also, having a proper IP strategy in place can help you earn extra revenue.
- To Monetize: How can you earn extra revenue from your creations? Simply by the fact that registered IP attracts credible legal protection in case of infringement from third parties. Thus, for example, you are a breakthrough technology startup with great promises of changing the face of the world, and someone tries to copy your product and/or its design, you can file a passing off/ infringement action against the infringer and claim for damages. Also, you can license and/or franchise to better market your products and earn hefty royalties.
- To Brand Yourself: You agree or not, branding does play a very crucial role in the present free market economy. And, what else can be a more solid branding tool than your IP! Be it your marketing campaigns or your blogs, your fliers or your emails, your web content or its design, your product, its design, packaging, make, looks, anything and everything, significantly contributes to your branding strategy and also to the IP strategy.
Thus, these are the basic reasons as to why you should have an IP Strategy. Now, to address your concerns. How to go about it? Would it be a costly affair? Well, it all depends on how you plan it and what you do with the plan. Here are some pointers to be kept in mind:
- Conduct IP Audits: This is the first step towards creating a well structured IP Strategy. An IP audit can simply be defined as that elaborate process whereby you determine the presence of IP in your organization. That is, you audit your organization and your products and every bit of your activity to find out what kind of IP (Copyright, Trademark, Patents, Industrial Designs, Integrated Circuits, etc) you are producing and how they can be protected. One way of conducting an IP audit is by outsourcing the work to an IP law firm. But since the entire affair would prove to be costly, you could as well do the entire task all by yourself, since you would be in a better position to assess your IP status (How exactly can you conduct an IP audit for your organization all by yourself, read it here). You can as well hire an IP practitioner as a consultant to oversee the entire process.
- Follow-ups: It’s not enough if you conduct an IP audit at the startup of your organization and call it off. Regular revisions and follow-ups of the audit are immensely essential for the entire exercise to prove to be fruitful. The reason being, during the process of running your organization, you might have had created many different and newer IPs not existing before in your organization.
- Short-term v. Long-term gains: You might be of the opinion that this entire complex procedure of an IP audit would be a drag on your funds and it wouldn’t be really helpful for your organization, financially. But, nothing can be farther from the truth, because, in the long run, and looking at the big picture, it is a well established fact that it’s high time that startups start taking their IP seriously because there is a whole gold mine lying down there unattended!
So what are you waiting for? Go review your organization and look for IP, any IP. You would be astonished at the amount of unprotected invaluable creations you have with you! It’s high time that you give them the protection, recognition and monetization that they so truly deserve and are made for!
Feel free to drop in your views, opinions, doubts and criticisms in the form of comments below!
Image from here.