What gives your company an edge? If its like most companies today, the answer is complex. It may be a proprietary product design, code that runs an app, or the caché that comes with your logo, but it may also be your customer list and market strategy and unique approach to efficiency.
As intellectual property (IP) becomes an increasingly significant component of company value—making up about 75 percent of the total worth for most—the age of technology has also made it easier to steal.
How to best navigate the IP landscape with its ever-changing risks and challenges?
Here are 10 tips from CREATe experts:
- Think IP: Get to know your company’s IP assets in all its forms, and consider the risks associated with losing control of each type.
- Set the stage: Put IP policies in place that convey how vital intellectual property is to the company’s ability to compete and how employees, supply chain members and other business partners are expected to handle IP materials and information.
- Start at the top: Ask senior management to lead a cross-functional team dedicated to protecting valuable IP assets. The scope of the task means that it can no longer be one person’s responsibility or only part of the legal function.
- Due diligence is critical: When conducting risk assessments of business partners, suppliers and employees, include intellectual property risk.
- Get suppliers involved: Make IP protection a priority in the relationship. Share your intellectual property protection policies and/or make adoption of these policies a condition of the contract.
- Secure the IT network: In the age of technology, an IP thief can do major harm with a keystroke or a thumb drive. Give a critical eye to security systems that govern data servers, who has access to sensitive information within the business, and what is shared with partners.
- Train and train again: Make IP protection procedures part of compliance training for new employees, and make it an ongoing component of training. These procedures can be shared with supply chain companies, often through existing programs.
- Keep watch: Routine monitoring and measuring intellectual property efforts will likely turn up issues that need immediate fixing and others that require improvement over time. Consider bringing in a third-party to help evaluate systems of preventing trade secret theft, counterfeiting and other types of IP theft.
- Fix the problem: When things go wrong, get to the root of the problem. Choose the systematic improvement over the “quick fix.”
- Make IP a priority to the bottom line: Let employees and business partners know that intellectual property protection is vital to the business. The better your system to safeguard valuable assets, and the further they extend into your supply chain, the more attractive you company will be to others.
In our 250-page ‘Guide to Improving Your IP Protection Program,’ we provide a detailed approach to building and maturing systems to safeguard intangible assets that can be tailored to individual businesses.
To learn more about the Guide, please download a preview in the Tools section. To see how your company can participate in CREATe Leading Practices for IP Protection, please email us: info@CREATe.org.