7.3.1 What is Intellectual Property Strategy

Managing an enterprise’s IP assets is more than just acquiring the formal IP rights. Patent or trademark rights are not worth much unless they are adequately exploited.1  Moreover, part of a company’s valuable IP may not require formal registration but may call for other measures of protection (e.g. confidentiality agreements). Enterprises willing to extract full value from their know-how and creativity should take adequate steps to develop an IP strategy for their business and seek to integrate it within their overall business strategy.2   This implies including IP considerations when drafting business plans and marketing strategies, taking into consideration IP in employment contracts where corporate know-how protection and staff motivation should be combined together, etc. According the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation), a basic IP strategy would include at least the following policies:

A Policy on IP Acquisition
A single product or service may be protected by various forms of IP rights covering different aspects of that product or service. SMEs must consider and select in terms of protection type, duration and cost the best IP protection tool and make sure that all the formal rights are acquired as early as possible.

A Policy on IP Exploitation
IP assets may be exploited in a variety of ways. These may include the commercialisation of IP protected products and services; the entering into licensing or franchising  agreements; the sale of IP assets to other firms; the creation of joint ventures; the use of IP to obtain access to other companies’ technology through cross-licensing agreements; or the use of IP to obtain business finance. Moreover, there are cases where an IP could be used simply for reputation (A patent in a company’s promotional material builds a high reputation in the sector). Enterprises should decide in each case how they may best exploit their IP assets both domestically and internationally.

A Policy on IP Monitoring
Consulting patent and trademark databases regularly is important in order to find out about recent technical developments and new technologies, identify new licensing partners or suppliers, new market opportunities, monitor activities of competitors, identify possible infringers, and avoid infringing competitors’ rights.

A Policy on IP Enforcement
A clear policy on IP enforcement is crucial due to the losses that may be incurred by the existence of counterfeited goods in the market and the high costs involved in some IP disputes. 3

1 www.wipo.int/sme/en/documents/ip_pharma.html
2 www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/ipr/sme_guide_managing_ia_bywipo.htm
3 www.wipo.int/sme/en/ip_business/managing_ip/managing_ip.htm