Innovaccess - Intellectual Property Portal

What is intellectual property

What is intellectual property

Basic information for understanding IP.

Why Use Intellectual Property

Companies can increase their competitiveness in a variety of ways by dedicating time and resources to the importance of their Intellectual Property (IP) protection.

IP assets are a source of value for companies and also reasons why they should be managed as part of a business strategy. For instance, it can help to promote a company to a leading role in its business/trade field.

IP as a way to dissuade infringers

Many infringers and counterfeiters will seek to quickly establish how serious their potential victims are in protecting their rights. By enforcing its rights in a persistent and relentless manner, a company increases its chances that a putative competitor, infringer or counterfeiter will decide to look for an easier target elsewhere.
In many situations the possession of IP rights and the threat of court action may be sufficient to deter infringers, or even place a company in a competitively advantageous position.

IP as an asset with a high potential value

IP rights, whether it is a patent, a design or other form of rights, represent an investment with an expected return. Therefore turning an invention into a marketable product and potential source of steady income is a crucial stage in the innovation process and IP rights help businesses to protect and prevent their market shares.
IP value depends on how well it is utilised. Adopting a systematic understood approach for the effective commercialisation of an innovation reduces the risks and maximizes the chance (insurance) that investment will generate a good return. Furthermore, IP rights have a value per se and can be directly sold or “rented” through licensing to other businesses or professionals.

IP as a source of competitor monitoring

Besides being an important tool for providing legal protection for R&D and commercial rights, IP can be a useful information source for SMEs
For example, patents contain important technical information: A patent documents and concepts provide information about an invention that has not been published before. The applicant must describe and explain its invention in a clear and complete way with examples of industrial application and information about the technological context i.e. other patents in the same field.
It also permits identification of the inventor and the patent owner. A patent classification system facilitates retrieval of patents within a specific technology field (click here for more information on patent classification).

Patents and designs will also indicate modern innovation trends. Knowing and studying the patent literature is therefore an effective tool to avoid parallel developments and R&D efforts in an overcrowded research field. 
Also, patent and trademark filings can give an insight into competitors' marketing strategies. In other words, IP information is valuable in all aspects of company activity - research, development, manufacturing, commercialisation and overall management. The IP prevention is not only a modern approach but it´s a need for an entrepeneur who wants to be open towards the economy and society.

IP as a source of innovation

Patent information sources should be used by organisations in their research and development for any of the processes below:

  • Investigating the "prior art" (see section "Which kind of IP right? - Patent") of a technology,
  • Finding world emerging and cutting edge technologies,
  • Identifying possible fruitful areas for research,
  • Identifying areas where research effort would be wasted because of e.g. duplication, established dominance by other companies etc.,
  • Finding possible competitors (reference to part 4.1.b) or partners (reference to part 2.4),
  • Investigating existing patents for legal purposes e.g. possibilities of infringement,
  • Identifying what is a right technology transfer/licensing opportunity (in or out). (reference to part 4.1.e)
The risks of non-protection

By ignoring and/or undervaluing IP’s potential, business can be driven into risky situations. Neglecting the registration of IP right opens up the possibility of competitors taking advantage of your technical innovations, business ideas, goodwill and reputation in the market, etc.

A business which has not protected its rights may expose itself to several difficulties, for example:

  • loosing the opportunity to forge business alliances,
  • weakening a negotiating strategy,
  • the possibility of arranging profitable licensing deals may be considerably reduced,
  • business ability related to capital obtaining or investment finance may be eroded.
PDFs and links

For more information and solutions on the different kinds of IP rights: see section "Which kind of IP right?"