In May, I had the good fortune to attend the International Trademark Association’s Annual Conference in Seattle, Washington. Over 11,000 trademark lawyers and brand professionals from all around the world attended.
Throughout the conference, there was one common theme: the need to educate individuals on the value of trademarks and other intellectual property (IP) assets in the success of businesses.
Learning to identify, monitor, and protect key IP assets will build value in a company. That’s why, whether large or small, all businesses should develop and maintain a culture of respect for the intellectual property created and owned by the business.
Here are some tips that I heard during the conference.
- Create a corporate culture of knowledge and respect for IP assets. This includes trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, and trade dress.
- Learn how to make the most of your IP assets. If your company is small, focus on building value in the IP assets. If your company is large, demonstrate and build on the value created by the IP assets.
- Leverage the value of IP assets in commerce. For example, make use of strong licensing agreements and engage in ongoing protection of products and brands.
- Get rid of IP “waste”. Dispose of or sell off IP assets that the company is not using and bring no value to the company.
- Learn to collaborate with in-house and outside counsel. Outside counsel should understand the culture of the business and know the business well.
- The fewer resources you have, the more you need to plan. Proactively monitoring and protecting your trademarks is more efficient and cost effective than reacting to a crisis. Planning keeps costs under control in the long term.
- Be a more attractive investment. Investors and venture capitalists like intellectual property assets that are registered and protected. Proper registrations and ongoing protection bring greater value to trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade dress.
Today’s business world is crowded. In many cases, you are not just competing with companies down the road, but across the country or even the world. To succeed, you must offer a differentiated product or service.
It is your IP assets that allow consumers to quickly differentiate your company from others. This makes them powerful, indispensable tools for staying competitive and growing your business.