Companies seeking to improve their IP protection programs can gain valuable insights from CREATe.org’s “Top 10 Tips” for IP protection. These tips are designed to promote IP protection both within an organization and among its supply chain and business partners.
- Understand Your Risks – Companies should perform regular IP risk assessments specific to their industry, geography and business partners. They must take into account: (a) the IP (copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, patents, registered designs) they own or deal with for third parties; (b) who within their organization, upstream supply chain, and downstream supply chain manages IP; (c) what and where their risks are; and (d) what the likelihood and potential impact of such risks may be.
- Have and Implement Effective IP Policies and Procedures – Companies should have clear IP related policies and procedures, and ensure that they are well communicated and understood within their organization and among their business partners.
- Do Your Due Diligence – It is important that companies include IP in effective, risk-based due diligence on their business partners.
- Document Business Partner Relationships Carefully – Companies should ensure that their contracts spell out IP-related requirements clearly. These should include provisions on IP ownership and requirements to implement and comply with policies and procedures, use IP lawfully (both their own and that of third parties), have processes in place to ensure that their staff and supply chain comply with IP requirements, and keep accurate and complete IP-related records.
- Train and Communicate –Companies must regularly train and otherwise raise awareness among employees and relevant business partners on the importance of IP protection. Specialized training should be provided for relevant employees and third parties, as should consistent communication on the importance of compliance.
- Benchmark and Monitor Your Company’s and Your Partners’ IP Management – Effective IP protection requires regular monitoring and measurement of a company’s IP program and the performance of its business partners.
- Enforce and Improve – Companies should thoroughly investigate and address specific violations by their employees or business partners, as well as root causes.
- Secure Senior Management Approval – Gaining buy-in from senior management is crucial to a company’s IP protection program. Companies should work closely with their own senior management and that of their supply chain members so that they consistently demonstrate a commitment to protecting IP.
- Integrate IP Protection Across Business Operations – All of a company’s relevant business units and departments should be fully integrated into IP protection and management efforts and be accountable for implementation and monitoring, both internally and with business partners. A cross-functional team is optimal.
- Be Proactive and Think About Prevention – Companies should monitor and review their programs regularly, perform ongoing due diligence, and make improvements as necessary.
For more information on improving your IP protection program, consult CREATe Leading Practices for IP Protection here.