Understanding intellectual property management

In the knowledge economy, the creation of wealth is based on knowledge & information and hence intellectual property management.

The world of business is changing at a breathtaking pace. Especially during the last two decades, where we witness a drastic development of information technology including internet which created the concept of global market. It is now imperative for the enterprises to establish and maintain their position in the intellectual property enabled economy.

It is difficult for most of the companies in the industrialized countries to maintain or gain a competitive edge in manufacturing given the low cost, and skilled labor available in, for instance, developing economies. Therefore, many of them have decided not to manufacture the products they develop and sell.

Instead, the companies register and transform their ideas and technologies to various kinds of intellectual properties to secure ownership. As a result, company’s intellectual efforts gain tangible value. The business world is changing at a magnificent speed due to the tremendous development in the field of science & technology. The age of mass production of the 1970’s has given way to the age of knowledge.

The assets companies possess in the form of technologies, designs and brands, is what increasingly determines their value. Managing technology and its ability to differentiate market offerings is the key to economic success. As intangibles emerge as an asset class, today most of the companies as well as the investors are keen on investing at intellectual property and other intangible assets, than looking for entrepreneurs and start-up companies.

This will be helping those companies to use their intellectual property in a variety of ways. Traditionally, they applied it to protect their own products. However, they may also extract value directly from their portfolio of intellectual property by selling it, licensing it, pooling it or exchanging it. This whole new market with buyers and sellers of intellectual property is the vital nucleus of today’s economy. These points out the necessity of managing intellectual property.

Intellectual Property management is more than just acquiring the formal IP rights through the Intellectual Property offices of respective countries. Patent or trademark or any other intellectual property rights are not worth, unless they are adequately exploited.

Though the intention of intellectual property is to protect the competitive position of the company’s products and markets, IP was almost universally thought of as a legal process. However, perceptions about Intellectual Property management started to change as soon as the economic implications of intellectual property rights became apparent.

At the same time a lawyer may not be in a position to answer following questions attached to the management of intellectual property;

  • Why do we need it?
  • Where do we need it?
  • What will it cost?
  • What has it earned (or will it earn)?
  • What business objectives does it support?
  • Who is using it and how?
  • How should we use it and why?
  • Why is it important?
  • Who else has some?
  • What it is worth?

Intellectual property has become the asset of the 21st century. Companies started to make money from their intellectual property rights. Intellectual property now makes up a large proportion of a companies’ market value. Management of intellectual property became a critical success factor. i.e., the management of intellectual property is a core competency for the manager of a successful enterprise.

Thus, it is necessary to manage intellectual property, and such management of intellectual property requires an integration of the legal processes of intellectual property acquisition, intellectual property maintenance, intellectual property exploitation and intellectual property enforcement with business strategies and objectives.

Hence, an enterprise willing to extract full value from their know-how and creativity should take adequate steps to develop an intellectual property strategy for their business and seek to integrate it within their overall business strategy. In other words, the management must understand the importance of intellectual property rights to a company’s overall business goals and must develop and implement an intellectual property management strategy in accordance with those goals.

Understanding how intellectual property rights can benefit a company will guide how that company can implement its intellectual property management strategy. At the core of this strategy will be the desire to both stimulate and capture creativity within the company.