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Why Small and Medium Sized Businesses Should Protect Their Intellectual Property By Rae Steinbach

It’s easy to assume that smaller enterprises don’t need an intellectual property (IP) strategy. That said, the World Intellectual Property Organization warns against this attitude. No matter how large or small your business is, it’s important to protect any and all innovations you develop.

You would want to maintain authority over any material you’d developed, whether you’ve had it translated by a professional translation company or kept information internal. Maintaining an IP strategy offers many key benefits, including the following:

Financial Benefits

According to data from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Indicators, the worldwide IP licensing market is worth $200 billion. The U.S. alone accounts for half of that total. This means an IP strategy can provide your organization with a valuable edge over your competition.

Stimulating innovation

A company that implements a strong IP strategy is a company that encourages its workers to innovate.

When the organization values protecting its intellectual assets, employees are more likely to develop new technologies and strategies to solve problems and better serve customers. The result is a workplace climate in which innovation occurs naturally and often.

Strategy Development

An IP strategy should protect your company’s intellectual property, make optimal use of R&D operations, and provide ways of monetizing IP assets.

These three “prongs” form the foundation of your strategy. Flesh them out when developing your IP strategy document. This document should:

● clearly define how IP assets can help the company achieve its goals.

● assess opportunities (both current and future) that your IP could potentially exploit.

● be accessible to stakeholders once it is officially completed.

● be thoroughly communicated to all relevant personnel, ensuring they comply with its methods and goals.

● be actively implemented, rather than merely filed away.

Answering IP Questions

When developing an IP strategy, ask yourself the following key questions:

What are the company’s plans for using IP? Knowing how you plan on using your IP will help you create the plan’s overall foundation.

What should you protect? Determine how genuinely valuable your IP assets are. For example, before trying to acquire a patent, define the exact value an IP asset offers your customers. This is key to securing a patent that provides thorough protection from competitors.

How can you monetize your IP? Protecting your IP costs money. Therefore, you want to ensure you maximize your return on investment by optimally monetizing your IP assets.

How will you protect your IP internationally? These days, even small enterprises can easily do international business. Make sure your IP strategy offers protection both domestically and abroad.

It’s also important to establish an intellectual property management infrastructure. Again, this strategy should play an active role in your operations. That means you’ll need managers to ensure it gets, and remains, implemented correctly. By taking a proactive approach, you’ll reap the full benefits of your IP assets.

Rae Steinbach

"Rae is a graduate of Tufts University with a combined International Relations and Chinese degree. After spending time living and working abroad in China, she returned to NYC to pursue her career and continue curating quality content. Rae is passionate about travel, food, and writing, of course."

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