IP audits can provide many benefits for business owners, helping them to identify, understand future-proof their IP. Here, our expert Tom Baker outlines what IP audits are, what types are available, how to get one and the financial support available for UK-based companies.
What is an IP audit?
Every business that innovates could benefit from an IP audit. Their purpose is to identify and assess your IP to ensure that you are well-placed to achieve your business objectives and safeguard your business in the long term. The results of an IP audit can increase your revenue streams and help to secure the investment you need to grow.
IP audits are carried out by qualified IP professionals and provide a detailed review of the existing IP assets of a company. The audit includes advice on how to maximise the value of your IP, as well as how to manage it moving forward.
Does my business need an IP audit?
Whether you’re looking to protect a new technology, process or service or simply make sure that you actually own your IP, it’s well worth taking the time to take stock and assess your options. The direction of an IP audit depends on your specific business requirements and objectives, with focus applied to the areas that need most attention.
If you’re looking to protect your business, innovations and brands; reduce risk; understand and make long-term financial decisions; identify new opportunities or unlock new revenue streams, an IP audit could give you the insights you need to make key strategic decisions.
We have extensive experience of performing IP audits for all shapes and sizes of business. There are a number of common focus areas that are worth considering, including:
- IP ownership — do you know how IP ownership actually works? Many businesses don’t, especially when engaging or collaborating with unrelated third parties like consultants and agencies. To avoid the costly need to remedy issues in future, it’s important to know exactly where the ownership of your IP resides.
- Existing IP rights — do you understand the full potential of IP in your business? Often, businesses don’t realise that they have valuable IP that could be protected. Whether it’s registered IP such as patents, trade marks and registered designs, or unregistered IP rights like copyright and unregistered designs, undertaking an exercise to assess this has helped many businesses to enhance their value and flag risk areas where protection may be lacking.
- IP strategy — is your IP strategy aligned with the direction of your business? This is critical to ensure that you are making the right decisions at the right times.
- Third party rights (freedom to operate) — do you engage or collaborate with third parties? Identifying potential threats that arise from these relationships is important to reduce risk to current or future commercial activities.
- Cost forecasting — are you aware of the current and future cost implications of your IP? IP audits can help you to plan and budget as you navigate the various routes to protection.
- Confidential information — do you use non-disclosure agreements or regularly review the IP clauses in your contracts? IP audits can also help you to understand where you face risks and where your practices should improve.
How much does an IP audit cost?
The UK Intellectual Property Office’s (UKIPO’s) IP Audits Plus programme — aimed at small- to medium-sized companies — provides funding of up to £2,500 (inclusive of VAT) to help businesses offset the cost of an IP audit. This means that you will only pay £500, with the remainder being funded by the UKIPO.
Additional competitive funding is available to take forward some of the recommendations provided within the IP audit report. This is referred to as the “IP Access” fund. The additional money (typically £5,000) can be used to cover service costs related to professional fees for IP services in the UK and abroad or certain other purposes related to IP.
How do I get an IP audit?
To get an IP audit, either contact the relevant agency based on your location in the UK or get in touch with us, so that we can point you in the right direction. We have worked with various bodies throughout the UK to provide all manner of IP audits. We can help you to assess your needs and figure out the most suitable type of audit for your needs.
- England — contact Innovate UK Edge (formerly Enterprise Europe Network), which works in partnership with the UKIPO.
- Scotland — Scottish Enterprise works in partnership with the UKIPO to provide its own programme. You can contact Scottish Enterprise and enquire about an IP audit here.
- Wales — Business Wales can provide IP audits through its Smart Innovation programme, which operates in partnership with the UKIPO.
Talk to us
If you’re thinking about undertaking an IP audit, get in touch with me at [email protected] or your usual Murgitroyd representative.