Identifying Intellectual Property Assets

Date: May 14, 2014
Author: James Foster

Identifying Intellectual Property AssetsMost business owners when asked can easily name their company's tangible assets, such as buildings, office space, furniture, inventory or equipment a company owns or leases in carrying out its business activities. But few can provide a comprehensive list of their intangible property, specifically, their intellectual property assets.

How's your IP Asset IQ?

What types of intellectual property assets do you own? The most common IP assets include a company's patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, as well as its written contracts and the know-how in its products. People are generally familiar with patents, an IP right granted by the United States government to inventors, which for a limited time allows the patent holder "to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling the invention throughout the United States or importing the invention into the United States." But most IP assets that individuals or businesses develop are not patentable, so while you might not have invented anything-yet-what other types of IP assets do you need to identify and protect? Ask yourself:

  • Do I own a website, use print advertising, create how-to manuals, architectural drawings, pictures, paintings, music, or have I developed proprietary software? If so, you own valuable assets that are protectable under copyright law.
  • Do I use a logo, slogan, business name, domain name, product design or color, sound-or even smell-to help customers recognize my products or services? Trademark law can help you profit from and protect those intellectual assets.
  • Do I have products in development or perhaps formulas, secret ingredients, customer or supplier lists, business or marketing plans, or manufacturing processes that I want to keep away from competitors? If so, you own trade secrets that need to be catalogued and protected.

What is your strategy to identify, protect, and exploit/monetize your IP assets? As with tangible property, you can buy, sell, trade, appraise, and collateralize your IP assets. Have you considered the extent of your IP holdings and do you have a strategy for these valuable assets? At Fidelis Law we regularly advise business owners, entrepreneurs, creative artists, not-for profit organizations, and others, and we would welcome the opportunity to help you develop a plan for managing your IP assets. Please call or email us at Fidelis Law to make an appointment or to request additional information.