Editor’s Note: This is part three of a series entitled “Building an IP Aligned Enterprise: A Guide for Corporate and Technology Leaders.” We will examine six signs indicating you’re lacking an aligned IP strategy in your technology enterprise.

6 Signs Your Technology Enterprise Lacks an Aligned IP Strategy

Intellectual property (IP) is absolutely essential to the success of your research, development, and core business goals. An intellectual property strategy provides effective tools for managing intangible assets, most especially key assets like trademarks, copyrights, design rights, and patents. A productive strategy involves capturing innovation, greater oversight of the process, and protecting all IP assets. Successfully managing contracts and overseeing revenue and market share are also necessary components. Keeping each of these areas running smoothly is not always easy. The following are six signs you’re lacking an aligned IP strategy.


1. IP Assets Are Unprotected

It’s necessary to know what type of protection is the most effective for your specific assets and innovation. There are several basic indicators that you need to improve IP protection for your assets.

  • You are not registering your IP assets in a timely manner.
  • You’re not regularly implementing non-disclosure agreements when sharing valuable information.
  • You don’t have a portfolio that includes audit dates, renewal dates, and royalty information for your assets.
  • You’re not protecting cloud applications or ensuring that the organization’s file-sharing services are secure.
  • Your company doesn’t monitor or protect scanners, copiers, and fax machines. It’s important to note these devices store documents they process and are also normally part of the network system.


2. No Process for Capturing Innovation

In simplest terms, innovation is when your employees come up with new ideas that move the company forward. Here are some common signs that indicate your organization is not up to speed on the innovation process:

  • Innovation is inconsistent and occurs sporadically.
  • Innovation that is occurring is incompatible with the organization’s current business model.
  • Employees seem to reinvent the innovation process each time instead of following any type of structure or guidelines. Protocols and processes for capturing, assessing, and protecting IP are absent or not enforced.
  • Lack of IP education curriculum to foster IP awareness across the enterprise.
  • Inventors lack incentive and support to innovate


3. No Oversight of Innovation

Oversight includes creating and maintaining an overall strategy that shouldn’t limit innovation but help guide it. If management isn’t regularly getting in the trenches and spending time working with developers, engineers, and others who are the heart of your creative processes, you’re likely limiting your oversight of potential innovation. Clarity is needed as to which stakeholders are responsible for developing and fostering your company’s IP strategy and applying its framework beginning with development through protection and ultimately in marketing, production, and beyond.

Oversight also includes understanding and maneuvering within federal rules and regulations. There are literally tens of thousands of pages of regulations regarding innovation, startups, and entrepreneurship. Your enterprise must have the expertise either in-house or outsourced to understand and correctly follow each of these guidelines.


4. Contracts Not Aligned with Innovation Needs

When designing contracts, most organizations see them as ways to eliminate risks and not as factors in protecting innovation. Above all, consideration must be given to ownership rights of IP, both within the enterprise and with its clients, vendors, and partners. This means contracts that touch on a multitude of internal and external relationships need to be assessed as to how well they protect the company’s valuable intangible assets in light of its IP strategic objectives. Additionally, these relationships must be logged and tracked to ensure that innovation stakeholders are aware of the IP owned by the enterprise.


5. Organization Is Unaware of Its IP

For your company to be fully aware of its existing or potential intangible assets, you’ll need to start by thinking beyond the traditional IP of only patents and trademarks. Perhaps most overlooked is identifying and protecting your trade secrets, which requires a comprehensive plan involving various departments and roles including legal, IT, physical plant, and operations among others. Other intangible assets such as proprietary know-how of key employees, sales lists, and data should also be considered and protected. To reiterate the above, tracking ownership rights of all these is key to having a comprehensive view of your enterprise’s IP.


6. Lost Revenue and Market Share

Gaining IP rights as quickly as possible can set your competitors back significantly in specific markets. If you’re not filing patents, registering trademarks, or maintaining copyrights, you will very likely erode your share of the market and limit your ability to grow revenue.

But staying ahead of your competition requires more than just filing applications. A savvy IP strategy leaves room for flexibility. Ongoing monitoring of your competitors’ patent and trademark filings will give you the opportunity to position your patent and trademark filings to maintain and even potentially enhance your market share.

Thomas DeFelice


Image Credits:  Photo by DC Studio on Freepik.

This article is for informational purposes, is not intended to constitute legal advice, and may be considered advertising under applicable state laws. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only and are not necessarily shared by Dilworth IP, its other attorneys, agents, or staff, or its clients.