Why & How Do Organizations Strengthen Their IPs (Intellectual Properties)?

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Intellectual Property is an asset held by a company or person based on which its new products are created. It is a special kind of asset created by the power of the human mind and is legally protected so that only the owner can derive benefit by using that asset.  
Intellectual property works on the concept that some ideas are as much if not more valuable than physical assets and can be used to generate revenue. Most nations today offer protection on intellectual property. 

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Examples of Intellectual Property (IP) 

  • Patents: A patent is a right granted for a novel invention. The invention could be a process, a product, manufacture, design, or an improvement over an idea. Patents grant exclusive rights to the owner to use them. It must be approved by relevant authority to be in effect and have a life span of around 20 years. 
  • Copyrights: Rights provided on any literature work created are called copyrights. It comes into effect from the day the work was created and does not have to be approved by anyone. 
  • Trademarks: Any design, pattern, symbol, or any other insignia that represents a brand and can be easily used to separate it from other brands is known as a trademark. It is exclusively assigned to a brand and a trademark cannot be assigned if something like it has already been registered by another brand. 
  • Trade secrets: As the name suggests, trade secrets are a company’s unique way of doing a task or producing a product which gives the company an advantage over its competitors. It is protected by NDAs and no special rights are granted for it. The best protection for it is its anonymity.

Need For Strengthening IPs (Intellectual Property) 

In this article we will discuss especially for patents. IPs are assets which if used properly can provide a big advantage to the owners over their competitors be it in terms of revenue, efficiency, restricting their opponents or any other. That is why most of the companies try to file for IP rights as soon as the IPs are created.  
Creating new intellectual properties is not easy for anyone. Companies waste a lot of skilled labor, finances, and time to create new IPs. So, to protect them better from being used by others without paying any charges, companies try to strengthen their IPs.  
The greater the strength of the IPs, the better protected they are against infringement from third parties and the more advantages they provide to their owners. 
The strength of an IP (patents for more specific) depends upon the scope of the protection it provides. If it is only a narrow scope, then others can bypass it and use the innovation/invention. 
Also, having a strong patient portfolio can help the company avoid litigations and charges related to infringement which could cost a lot of money for the company to solve. 

How Do Companies Strengthen Their IPs? 

Companies are always trying to find ways to strengthen their IPs (especially the patents). A strong patent portfolio needs to cover a broad range of protection to be effective. For this various methods used by companies are: 

  • Acquiring patents from Solo Inventors: Patents need investment for developing products based on them which most of the time cannot be incurred by solo inventors. Also, not all patents are marketable. So, companies buy the rights of the patent from solo investors for a price. In this way the inventor gets monetary benefits for his invention and the company can expand the scope of the research and thus strengthen its existing patent portfolio. 
  • Company Acquisition: Sometimes, a company directly acquires another company. In this way, all the existing patents and IPs of the acquired company get added into the portfolio of the buyer company. 
  • Talent Acquisition: Companies are always looking to hire skilled personnel who can create value for them. They employ these skilled workers and provide them with resources and opportunities to work in particular domains. Then the innovative ideas and inventions they create become the property of the company and are used to boost their IP portfolio. 
  • Collaboration with Other Companies: Sometimes, companies work with another company to research upon an invention and file for joint ownership of the intellectual property created. This is done when alone, it is impossible for a single company to finish the research. They both enjoy the benefits of the research and strengthen their IP portfolio. 
  • File Ideas/ Innovation Early: To strengthen their patent portfolio, companies make use of the provisional application to file for protection on their idea. In provisional application, the applicant does not have to provide full details of the invention and can only provide a brief idea about the invention.  
    By filing a provisional application, the company gets an additional year to work on the invention and see if it has a marketable value or not and if it will bolster the portfolio of the company.
  •  File PCT (Patient Cooperation Treaty) International Application: To strengthen their portfolio, companies file a PCT international application through which they can file for protection on their inventions in more than 150+ countries worldwide under Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT). 
  • The Best Defence is an Offence: To strengthen their IPs (patents), companies before someone files for checking the validity of the patent, they do it on their own. This serves the following purposes:
    The company can check if the patent is strong enough to be able to stand its ground in case of an infringement case. For this, the company does an invalidation check again for finding new prior arts which can invalidate the patent. After the invalidation check, the company can modify the claims of the patent in certain cases (by changing its claims) to strengthen the patent. After the strength of the patent has been verified, the company can analyze for themselves if it could be used for infringement cases as those cost a lot of money and goes on for a long time. 

Conclusion

Intellectual properties are important assets of any company and are under constant threat of being invalidated if not strengthened and protected properly. 
It is important to file for protection of IPs (patents and trademarks) as early as possible to avoid being taken advantage of and infringed upon. 

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