Time for an IP detox?
The new year is a good time to step back and assess whether the IP rights in your portfolio are adding value to your business, but where should you begin?
Many companies estimate the healthiness and relative worth of their IP portfolios based on size alone. However, those IP rights could be worth far less than hoped if the following checks and balances aren't also considered. IP portfolios are frequently cluttered with unused registrations or starved by gaps in coverage; reviewing your IP now via a detailed audit could help you to identify ways to streamline your portfolio in 2016, saving you money while also improving the efficiency of your assets.
Step 1: Review your IP records and data for accuracy
The data in your IP portfolio needs to be accurate and up-to-date, otherwise you may find that you don't quite own the rights that you think you do. Taking the time now to cleanse, update and rationalise your IP data can save you both time and money in the long-run, as it will identify errors in the records, as well as unnecessary costs such as duplicate registrations (e.g between national and CTM rights).
Centralising IP ownership can also help you to avoid unnecessary costs and risks, e.g. due to refusals or duplicate records. This also enables companies to file oppositions or to act against infringement on behalf of one formal party, instead of being forced to initiate double procedures in case of decentralised ownership.
Step 2: Audit your IP portfolio for value
A regular IP audit enables you to assess the value of your portfolio against the costs involved in growing and maintaining the IP rights it contains. It helps to identify, for example, trademark rights that are being renewed despite never being used, as well as gaps in protection, which might leave a company exposed. To undertake this audit, we would first recommend:
- Reviewing your IP strategy to ensure that it takes into account your strategic business goals;
- Prioritising your IP rights (e.g. between ‘core’ and ‘non-core’), and markets (countries and goods/services) based on current branding/R&D strategy and future plans;
- Auditing licensing and royalty agreements to ensure that the rights have been correctly maintained and the revenues received; and
- Reviewing your supplier list to see if it is possible to generate further cost savings by consolidating your IP portfolio with one provider.
Step 3: Conduct regular healthchecks
Completing an IP audit is only the first step in what should be a regular programme of portfolio reviews. By conducting audits at regular intervals (ideally at least every six months), you can ensure that your portfolio continues to evolve as your business does, and it could also identify additional savings in the future; for example, by:
- Merging registrations;
- Allowing possible duplicate (local) registrations to lapse; and
- Identifying unexploited rights that could be sold, licensed or allowed to lapse.
Find out more
Novagraaf regularly undertakes IP audits for customers, helping them to assess the efficiency of their rights, to identify gaps in coverage and to highlight areas where they could save costs. You can find out more about this service and our methodology on our website.