We are often asked about the overall cost of protecting intellectual property (IP), and why a company should allocate some of their finite funds to seeking IP protection for their products and brands.
These questions are most common when the perception is that the company may not have enough funds to defend or enforce its IP should that situation arise.
Protecting or enforcing your IP in the courts can indeed be a significant cost. However, it is also important to note that court proceedings are usually the last resort. Only a small percentage of IP cases end up in court, and these cases are often those that attract press coverage due to the sums of money at stake. More commonly, when an IP dispute arises, an alternative to court proceedings is the preferred course of action – for example, a licence agreement or a mediated settlement offering an innovative solution to bring parties together and any dispute to a close.
Separately, we always encourage companies to have a full understanding of the value IP brings to their business, including appreciating the sometimes “hidden” benefits provided by maintaining an active IP strategy.
- Beyond direct enforcement, IP rights act as a deterrent to competition in several ways. As an IP owner, you will probably never be aware of the number of competitors who were forced to change their products or commercial strategy because of your patent or design protection! Additionally, the content of patent applications is secret until publication, usually 18 months after filing. As such, the protection you are seeking for a new product is not immediately identifiable, and your competition is, therefore, more likely to allow you space in the market to avoid possible infringement.
- IP rights can be revenue-generating for you too. Instead of looking to copy your product, a third party may contact you to ask you for a licence, therefore offering to pay you royalties in exchange for using your IP.
- IP rights are company assets. As well as seeking to obtain a license from you, you may also be approached by a third party looking to purchase your IP right outright.
- Existing IP rights or patent applications will attract and reassure potential investors who seek companies with clearly defensible IP protection.
For a more detailed explanation why not listen to our Innovation Talks podcast episode ‘Should I Seek IP Protection Even if I have No Money to Defend It‘ available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker, Deezer or Stitcher. Why not subscribe so you don’t miss our future episodes!
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