Innovaccess - Intellectual Property Portal

Importance of Intellectual Property in Business

Importance of Intellectual Property in your Business

From research and business creation to fight for defending intellectual property rights: IP should be present all the way long.

Business development

Development of a work of art

There are two forms of protection that may be applied to protect a work of art: design and copyright.

Design can relate to creative and original designs or patterns which can be elaborated on clothing or furniture collection, appearance of a product, etc.

A business can also produce or help to publish, distribute or retail a work protected by copyright such as paintings, works of arts applied to industry, architectural plans, photographs, etc.

Development of a new product/service

A business is well positioned to benefit from innovation if it takes all intellectual property issues into account at an early stage of the design process of a new product.

It is essential to keep the new idea secret in order to obtain the appropriate commercial potential (see section "Know-How and Trade Secret"). In addition, not all commercially viable ideas can be or are patented, so it is important to treat ideas as trade secrets, especially at the initial stage of the development.

Putting a product on the market is usually a big challenge. Intellectual property, particularly patents, plays a crucial role in facilitating access to funders at an early stage, which may help an invention to reach the marketplace.

Thus, use of IP should go along with the development of a new product/service. Different aspects of the product/service can be protected by IP:

  • technical characteristics can be protected by patents,
  • name of the product/service can be protected by trademarks,
  • aesthetic aspects can be protected by designs.

Whatever your approach, be sure to consider trade secrets.

Development of collaborations

Use of patent pools can provide attractive propositions in cooperation between firms.

Sometimes, acquiring by oneself the foundational knowledge needed to produce cutting-edge technologies is a costly; it can be much cheaper to take advantage of the experience of others. Collaborating with another firm is particularly useful when exploring new markets, geographies or technologies.

Other times, when two firms want to explore the same area of technology, dividing effort and sharing costs can also provide improved efficiency. It also allows firms to share development risks and undertake projects that might otherwise be considered too risky.

Negotiating agreements over the ownership and management of IP generated in collaboration is vital for a successful relationship (see section "managing collaborations and open innovation" and section "licensing and license agreement").

Marketing a new product

A marketing strategy should establish a clear link between your products or services and your business, as the producer or provider of such products or services. That is to say, customers should be able to distinguish, at a glance, between your products or services and those of your competitors and associate them with certain desired qualities.

Intellectual property plays an important role in the commercialization of technological innovation and is an important tool for creating an image for your business in the minds of the customers and for positioning your business in the market. In particular, trademarks and industrial designs play an important role in so far as they enable consumers to identify the product or service of a given society and to distinguish it from other similar products or services.

Moreover, trademarks can be a very effective way to enter new markets and can also extend the business benefits beyond the term of a patent. Technological innovation can be well protected by a combination of patent, industrial design and trademark.

Efficient use of IP rights, combined with other marketing tools (advertisements, sales promotion activities, etc) is crucial for:

  • Differentiating your products and services and making them easily recognizable
  • Promoting your products or services and creating a loyal clientele
  • Diversifying your market strategy to various target groups
  • Marketing your products or services in foreign countries
International business development

Before embarking on an export operation, enterprises go through a series of crucial steps such as:

  • Identifying an appropriate export market and estimating demand,
  • Finding channels of distribution,
  • Estimating costs,
  • Obtaining funds.

After this, SMEs can decide to operate in more than one market by selling products or services or licensing IP rights and know-how beyond the national borders.

Intellectual property (IP) issues should be taken into account while planning an export strategy. However, IP rights are generally territorial, so they are only protected in the country or region in which protection has been applied for and obtained. To enjoy same exclusive IP rights in foreign markets as in domestic market, it is necessary to carefully consider applying for IP protection well in time in all countries to which the SME is likely to export or license the product or service.

IP rights such as patents, trademarks and industrial designs may open up new export opportunities, may help position oneself in export markets and in winning clientele.