Intellectual property is a cornerstone of modern businesses
But it can seem to be a cost centre at first glance. How do businesses make money from IP? Here's how.
Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry
Intellectual property (IP) is becoming increasingly important for businesses in today's knowledge-based economy. IP refers to the creations of the mind, such as inventions, artistic works, and symbols, names, and images used in commerce. Businesses that own IP can monetize it in a variety of ways, including licensing, selling, and using it to create new products or services. In this blog, we'll explore the different ways that businesses can make money from IP and how they can protect their IP rights.
Types of IP
There are five main types of IP: patents, trademarks, designs, copyright, and trade secrets. Each type of IP can be monetized by businesses in different ways.
Patents: Patents protect inventions, such as new products, processes, and machines. A patent gives the owner the exclusive right to make, use, and sell the invention for a certain period of time, usually 20 years from the date of filing. Businesses can monetize their patents by licensing them to other companies or by selling them outright.
Trademarks: Trademarks protect symbols, names, and images used in commerce to distinguish one business's products or services from another's. Trademark owners have the exclusive right to use their mark in connection with their goods or services. Businesses can monetize their trademarks by licensing them to other companies or by selling them outright.
Copyright: Copyright protects original works of authorship, such as books, music, and software. Copyright owners have the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and display their works. Businesses can monetize their copyrights by licensing them to other companies or by selling them outright.
Designs: Designs protect the appearance of a product, where it adds no specific functional benefit. This can be the whole or part of a product including: line, contour, colour, shape, texture and ornamentation. The unique appearance of products, or their packaging can have a distinct appeal to consumers which drives sales.
Trade Secrets: Trade secrets are confidential information that give a business a competitive advantage, such as customer lists, manufacturing processes, and formulas. Trade secrets are protected by keeping them secret and by requiring employees and contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). Businesses can monetize their trade secrets by licensing them to other companies or by using them to create new products or services.
Licensing is a common way for businesses to monetize their IP. Licensing involves granting another company the right to use your IP in exchange for a fee, typically a percentage of the licensee's revenue. Licensing can be an effective way for businesses to generate income from their IP without having to invest in manufacturing or marketing their own products.
For example, a software company that owns a patent for a new technology may license the technology to other software companies that want to use it in their own products. The licensing agreement may specify the terms and conditions of the license, such as the duration of the license, the territory in which the licensee can use the technology, and the royalties that the licensee must pay.
Selling IP is another way for businesses to monetize their IP. Selling IP involves transferring ownership of the IP to another company or individual in exchange for a lump sum payment. The value of IP depends on factors such as its uniqueness, its potential for commercialization, and the demand for it in the market.
For example, a pharmaceutical company that owns a patent for a new drug may sell the patent to another pharmaceutical company that wants to manufacture and sell the drug. The purchase price for the patent may be based on factors such as the potential revenue that the drug could generate, the cost of developing and manufacturing the drug, and the risk of competition from other drugs.
Using IP to Create New Products or Services
Businesses can also use their IP to create new products or services to sell. For example, a software company that owns a patent for a new algorithm may use the algorithm to develop a new software application that it can sell to customers. Using IP to create new products or services can be an effective way for businesses to generate revenue and increase their market share.
Protecting IP Rights
In order for businesses to monetize their IP, they must first protect their IP rights. This means taking steps to prevent others from using or infringing on their IP. There are several ways that businesses can protect their IP rights:
Patent Protection: Businesses can protect their inventions by obtaining patents. Patents provide the owner with the exclusive right to make, use, and sell the invention for a certain period of time. In order to obtain a patent, the invention must be novel, non-obvious, and useful.
Trademark Protection: Businesses can protect their brand names, logos, and slogans by registering them as trademarks. Trademarks give the owner the exclusive right to use the mark in connection with their goods or services. In order to obtain a trademark, the mark must be distinctive and not confusingly similar to other marks. Unregistered brand elements can be protected via passing off, albeit in a much more limited and involved way.
Design Protection: Design rights come in both registered and unregistered forms. Unregistered design rights have a less significant scope of protection compared to their registered counterparts, which can be obtained for a nominal fee.
Copyright Protection: Businesses can protect their original works of authorship by being aware of copyright. Copyrights give the owner the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, and display the work. In order to obtain a copyright, the work must be original and fixed in a tangible form. Copyright is an automatic right which comes into existence at the point where an original work is made.
Trade Secret Protection: Businesses can protect their trade secrets by keeping them confidential and by requiring employees and contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). NDAs prohibit the disclosure of confidential information and provide remedies in case of a breach.
In conclusion, IP is becoming increasingly important for businesses in today's knowledge-based economy. Businesses that own IP can monetize it in a variety of ways, including licensing, selling, and using it to create new products or services.
However, in order to monetize their IP, businesses must first protect their IP rights by obtaining patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secret protection.
By doing so, businesses can maximize the value of their IP and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
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DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances.