Intellectual Property provides individuals and entities with a legal tool to defend against others upon infringement. According to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the creations of the human mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce.
The reflection about the IP is an important issue, especially when an individual or an entity intends to make commercial use of a technology, a product, a method, an image, they developed. The Intellectual Property could be a tangible or intangible asset and a technical or non-technical invention or creation. To understand if an asset could be Intellectual Property, some questions can be assessed:
- What is this invention about?
- What is it for?
- What is the value it provides?
- What is the applicable market?
- Who can benefit from this solution?
- Am I willing to exploit it commercially?
- Am I willing to prevent others from using my solution without permission?
Other aspect to consider when identifying our Intellectual Property are the two categories it is divided in. On the one hand, the Industrial Property includes inventions (patents), industrial designs, trademarks, geographical indications and plant varieties. On the other hand, the Copyright includes literary and artistic works, films, music, designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce, photography’s, sculptures.
According to the type of IP, and considering the strategy and the interests of the individual or entity, it will be worth to make use of the available legal mechanisms. As defined by the WIPO, the Intellectual Property Rights enable to own the rights to exploit the assets commercially, protecting the ownership against the abuse by unauthorized persons. This protection is implemented via patent, utility model, industrial design, trademarks, trade secret, and copyright. Each of the previous named protection instruments has specific eligibility requirements and conditions, involving an economical investment thorough several years.
The lack of culture on Intellectual Property at European level leads inventors to protect their creations without previously assessing their commercial potential, causing in most cases an important investment without economical return. Not always protecting the IP is the best strategy for the commercial exploitation.
To analyze the commercial potential of an IP, it is important to identify the target market, its volume, trends and dynamics, the key market players, the competitors, the value chain, the customers, and any other market data interesting for the analysis. This information could be worth not having it, however it is really valuable to define the IP protection and exploitation strategy. It enables to decide whether to protect the asset or not, what to protect, how to protect it, where to protect it, the business model, the customers and whether it will be necessary to share the rights to others via licensing or not.
Not protecting the asset is also a suitable strategy for commercialization. However it is critical that the key information remains confidential. Some limitations may be assumed, although the defined business model and exploitation strategy has to accompany.