Recently I sat down to enjoy a beer, and my thoughts drifted to intellectual property. We live in a world surrounded by intellectual property. Everything we need, where, drive, listen to talk to or watch is comprised of bundles of intellectual property.
Take this beer . It’s actually a trade secret. It was created by a brew-master who developed a formula to make the beer in a unique way. It has a certain taste, aroma, and look.
And that’s what makes it unique from other specialty beers.
Products such as beer, sodas and energy drink, are really nothing more than bundles of intellectual property. What makes each of them unique is the formula and in many cases the brand.
The real value of these beverages is the intellectual property – the formulations are trade secrets and the trademarks are well-known brands. Some the most valuable trade secrets in the world are beverage formulas. Examples include Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and others. They are transformed into tangible beverages generating hundreds of millions of dollars in sales, and in some cases licensing revenues.
Maintaining secrecy and confidentiality is the secret to keeping your trade secret value intact. In the case of a beverage formula, you’ve got to make sure it doesn’t leave your company and get duplicated by a competitor.
Trade secrets are a do-it-yourself form of protection. You don’t register with the government to secure your trade secret; you simply keep the information confidential. Trade secret protection lasts for as long as the secret is kept confidential. If it becomes public, trade secret protections ends.
Types of trade secret IP include formulas, product designs, websites, software program, valuable business information such as marketing plans and customer lists, and research (and development)on what does not work such as a new type of drug that is ineffective.
Make sure you’ve got internal and external procedures to protect your trade secret confidentiality. When licensing your trade secrets, keeping control of your information is key. Be sure your licensing agreements specify what and how it will be used by your licensing partners.
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.