Companies should take a holistic and proactive approach to IP management by identifying IP infringement in the market place and protecting against infringement or loss, by applying best practices for protection, customising the approach to the cost and operational factors unique to each business.
IP management also involves evaluating the clearest path to monetising IP through licensing enforcement, or sale, including use of technology and market research to assist with business expansion, product development, and licensing programs. This involves evaluating terms of license, sale or joint venture agreements to determine appropriate royalty rates and ownership percentages, depending on factor such as profitability, exclusivity and complementary assets required for production or sale.
In this regard, an important practical step worth taking is a company-wide education programme should be put in place so that the importance of IP is understood.
Expiration and renewal dates of all IPs should be managed and independent watching and reporting services considered. Expiry dates for important patents likely to have a negative impact on core product sales should be clearly enunciated and contingency plans made. Company brands and their proper use should be protected energetically.
Royalty payments and both license-in and license-out investigations should be undertaken to ensure that proper royalties are paid and received. Surprisingly, a large number of firms pay for licenses for technologies that have not been renewed or have lapsed.
One aspect of IP management that is often discussed is the extra revenue to be gained by leveraging off technologies that are not being used through license agreements, royalties and joint ventures. However, with these advantages there comes a duty to ensure that the rewards are not just seen as being serendipitous but are real and commensurate with the value of the IP concerned.