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Some quick wins

Hello everyone,

I do hope that this reaches you well, and you are rested and recuperated after this weekend's festivities (should you have been in the UK, or celebrating!)

This week I've decided to give you some value, apropos of nothing, which will help you and your business.

I am calling these my "quick wins", they are actionable activities you can undertake quickly to boost the value of IP in your business.

As always, if you need any assistance, drop me an email and we'll arrange a call.


Quick Win 1: Identifying untapped intangible assets

Do you know what intangible assets you hold within your business?

Cumulatively, intangible assets comprise your: reputation, expertise, experience, content, innovations and more. 

Many businesses haven't got to grips with this and created an asset register to help them leverage them toward business growth.

Creating a basic IP asset register

In its most basic form, an asset register is a spreadsheet that starts with a list of assets. Think databases, unique training materials, processes, plans, marketing collateral, brands and so on. If it is a knowledge asset and has value within your business - write it down.

Then in the second column, ascribe a value to the asset. This can be difficult to do out of "thin air", but a good indication of this is to ask yourself: 1) what would it cost me to recreate the asset if it were to disappear? 2) What revenue is directly attributable to it? 3) what would it cost me in lost revenue if a competitor were able to replicate it? Or: 4) how much did it cost to create the asset?

In the third column, you would ascribe the level of access that members of your team have to this asset. If it is your business plan, for example, it may only be the "top table" who have access to it.

Finally, in the fourth column, you ascribe the ways in which you're keeping this under lock and key - whether through legal IP protection or otherwise.

It's not comprehensive, but it's a start! the more detailed and complete your IP register is, the more you are aware of what your priorities are.

If you really want to go the extra mile, you can instruct an IP specialist to do an IP audit with you, to get precise clarity on this and help you leverage these assets toward your commercial goals.


Quick Win 2: Getting the Trade Mark

This one is a bit simpler.

Securing your brand as a trade mark is a priority for any business. And what's more, if done with precision it can be an incredibly valuable asset (and weapon) in protecting your market position.

Many people seek to register their own, which we don't recommend for a few reasons:
  1. People often tend to try to register legally unenforceable marks, either too descriptive or non-distinct. These can be denied outright or result in a very weak form of protection.
  2. People fail to get the right kind of clearance. There is a real discipline and skill in navigating trade mark registration that means avoiding various forms of similarity to existing marks that can result in expensive backfires, like opposition and cancellation proceedings.
  3. People tend to capture what they need now, but fail to craft an asset for the future. Trade mark specifications should be tailored to perfection, not looking at what a business sells now, but what commercially is in the pipeline in the next 5 to 10 years.
Simply put, there is a reason why professionals train for years to register trade marks without involving themselves in anything else! 

A tailored trade mark registration can help you stake a claim to a swathe of distinctive terrain in your marketplace which you can create further appeal via goodwill and reputation.

It also acts as a strong deterrent should anyone else come close to your unique look and feel - as you can quickly nip what they're doing in the bud.
It is worth doing properly, and in terms of "bang for your buck", it is one of the best investments a business can make. Period.



Quick Win 3: Copyright Notices

Every company creates a host of material in the course of business which attracts copyright protection.

Copyright protection is automatic and essentially comes into existence at the point where new and original work is made. 

This can include (but is not limited to), things such as written works, videos, music, performances and so on. Even this newsletter!

As copyright is automatic, you do not have to register it - but there is a bit of work to be done by copyright authors.

To maximise the value of your copyright, and limit the risk and damage of copyright infringement:
  1. Add copyright notices to your work - this notifies people who engage with it that you are of copyright and claim it and that moreover that you are likely to enforce your rights.
  2. Catalogue and retain evidence of the creation of work. A lot of this is done via metadata (i.e. data automatically attached to photos and files you create when you create them). But if you are in certain industries it can be helpful to create your own records.
  3. Educate yourself about fair use. There are ways in which you are allowed to use other people's copyright material and ways in which you are not. There are some fine lines here that are worth understanding if you create a lot of material for the public.
  4. Remain vigilant over your key assets. From time to time we see websites entirely clone SEO and good sales content in order to siphon off a business's value. Sometimes it is literally the entire site. It is good practice, from time to time, to search around your key assets in order to catch things that may be out there.
If you need help with any of these, or you uncover any problems - do not hesitate to get in touch.

Quick Win 4: Agreements With Others

When it comes to IP watertight agreements with employees, collaborators and 3rd parties are a must.

Most people think that with these people being on "your side" they are low-risk when it comes to potentially damaging the business through misappropriating IP.

But we see it time and time again where a business partner or ex-employee, following the conclusion of a working relationship, suddenly becomes a thorn in a business' side.

Either starting up a competing entity with the knowledge (i.e. IP!) they've gained within a business, or in some way leveraging your IP, and in doing so, damaging your commercial outcomes.

If you have clarity on the value of your IP you will understand that it is prudent to make sure that those you work with are compelled to protect it. Clauses in agreements with 3rd parties and employees ensure that people know exactly where they stand as it relates to your big idea.


Wrapping up

I hope that this has been useful to you and provided some "food for thought".

We also have a handy IP questionnaire that is freely available from our website. If you are wanting to further explore IP within your business, please take a look at it here.

Hope you have a fantastic week,

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