Growing companies face all kinds of challenges. From financing to staffing, growth takes effort and attention. Among the many things that both drive growth and need this attention is the company’s intellectual property (“IP”). What follows are a few thoughts about some IP-related issues expanding businesses should keep in mind.
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As businesses grow they must review their IP assets to ensure they are protected, especially the ones that are driving growth. These assets might include trademarks for new product names or brand extensions, taglines and logos, as well as patents for new technologies. Sometimes growth happens quickly and a business does not want to leave important assets unprotected.
Therefore, business owners would be wise to regularly ask questions like these:
- Are all of the company’s trademarks registered and in force?
- Is the company’s patent portfolio up to date?
- Has the company expanded internationally and, if so, is company IP protected in those markets?
- Are licensing agreements in place and favorable to the company?
- Does the company have policies to protect trade secrets?
- Are there non-disclosure agreements with third-parties?
- If franchising is on the horizon, are franchise documents ready?
Don’t be an IP Target
Growing businesses are also likely “IP targets” in two ways. First, everyone wants to copy a winner, so growing businesses must monitor the market and competitors and actively pursue others that might infringe their intellectual property or try to utilize trade secrets learned by former employees.
Second, growing businesses (and their deepening bank accounts) are targets to others who may claim success comes on the back of infringing their intellectual property rights. Thus, growing businesses must look at their products and services and make certain that no third-party rights are implicated and, if they are, that those rights are adequately licensed.
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If you would like to explore more about protecting your company’s IP assets, I may be reached at email@example.com or by phone at 239-344-1153.