Success with your IP is dependent upon your ability to manage and protect it. The trick is in knowing what and when to protect it.
If you don’t protect it on time, the potential consequences of not protecting IP are many:
- Loss of income because your competitors, partners, and customers are using your IP without paying any royalties.
- An ex-employee takes your trade secrets and gives them to their new employer whose your competitor
- You get a letter threatening litigation from a company claiming you are infringing on their IP
On the other hand, you overspend on protecting the wrong parts of your IP, failing to identify which parts are really the most commercially viable. Your money and time would have been better spent testing your IP, confirming its value, and setting the stage for a licensing play.
Many IP owners focus on the tangible parts and overlook the intangible pieces that can be the most valuable. I consulted a woman who created a patent learning assessment toy. It collects data about the kids learning skills by testing them with interactive toys. It analyzes the results and, based on a series of questions answered by the parents, provides customized recommendations on the best type of learning toys to enhance their child’s learning skills. Not realizing the real value of her IP was the data collection, she spent all her money on patenting the interactive toy “parts” of her IP.
Identify all of your IP parts and then decide which ones are the most commercially viable. Focus on protecting the most valuable parts first. Those are the ones you’ll want to develop and use for licensing.
You’ve invested a lot of time and money in your IP. Focusing on the most valuable parts gets you the highest return on your investment. Otherwise your IP can wind up over-protected and under-performing.