What is Intellectual Property? Intellectual property consists primarily of patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets in the United States. You may be familiar with it as the protection given to new inventions, product names and marketing slogans, written works ranging from a great novel to product brochures and fact sheets, music, art, sculpture, other creative works and the formula for Coca-Cola (and other secret formulas).
Why is Intellectual Property important to my business? There are many reasons that intellectual property could be important to your business. On the positive side, if you have developed a new product, product name, marketing slogan or written guide to your products, you may want to obtain the protection that comes with registration and patenting. To protect the value of your business, you may want to protect these against others who would infringe your rights. You also might want to avoid the costs associated with picking a product or business name that infringes another party’s rights, violating the copyrights on software or other works (e.g. having more copies of office software than licenses), or infringing on patents owned by a competitor or someone else.
How often do I need to review my intellectual property issues? It is best to review them every time you adopt a new product name or marketing slogan, start offering a new product or service and as your business changes. The more changes that are occurring in your business, the more frequently you should be conducting your review. If you sell the same product under the same name and use the same marketing ideas as ten years ago, there is less urgency in conducting the review.
The Firm assists clients in identifying and protecting intellectual property assets, identifying, protecting and enforcing intellectual property rights, and in identifying and limiting exposure to potential intellectual property liabilities. The Firm assists in establishing the processes and procedures to review and monitor the creation and use of intellectual property so that the rights in such property can be protected and potential liabilities can be avoided.
One of the tools that we use to assist clients with the identification, protection and enforcement of intellectual property assets and rights is the intellectual property audit. Intellectual property audits are done for a number of reasons. First, they are done when a company has not kept track of its creation and use of intellectual property and needs to obtain a better assessment and understanding of its rights and liabilities. Second, they are done when a company seeks funding either through third party investment or debt, and needs to explain its assets and liabilities to those who would invest in the company. Third, they are done when a company is contemplating a transaction (sale, purchase, merger, joint venture) and needs to understand what rights and liabilities it brings to the table, as well as the rights and liabilities of the company with which it intends to do business. Fourth, they are done because a third party asserts that the company is violating that third party’s intellectual property rights, and the company not only needs to know whether the assertion is correct but also wants to better understand what other intellectual property rights and liabilities it might have. We tailor our audits to a client’s particular needs.