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Top tips for managing a large IP portfolio

How should large organisations look after their intellectual property?

Lodders’ Stuart Price provides some top tips for managing a large intellectual property (IP) portfolio and explains the importance of developing an IP strategy that aligns with your organisation’s objectives.

Stuart Price, Commercial solicitor, West Midlands

IP is an incredibly valuable yet often overlooked asset for businesses that can be critical to business growth. Here are some straightforward ways to effectively manage a large IP portfolio and keep your assets secure: 

Use IP management software

This will help you to manage and accurately track your intellectual property assets. It’s also worth considering investing in monitoring and enforcement tools, such as IP watching services and web crawlers, to help detect and prevent infringement.

Establish an IP management committee or team

For large organisations, it can be beneficial to have a dedicated team for IP management. This team can then oversee all aspects of IP management, such as conducting regular audits to identify and track IP assets and evaluate their value.

Budget for expenses

Businesses should also establish an IP management budget that includes expenses for IP registration, enforcement, and litigation.

Put the necessary policies and procedures in place

Your policies and procedures should cover IP ownership, confidentiality, non-disclosure agreements, licensing, and infringement. It’s essential to give regular training for employees on the IP policies and procedures that you have in place and to provide regular updates on IP-related developments.

Organisations can also use confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements with employees, contractors, and partners to protect trade secrets.

Maintain a strong portfolio

Always register trade marks to protect your brand and corporate identity where possible. Ahead of time, to help identify any legal barriers to your company’s use or registration of a trade mark, you can conduct clearance searches to find details of existing trade marks, when they were registered and who owns them.

In addition to trade marks, you should also develop and maintain a strong patent portfolio, which should include defensive patents to protect against litigation, document the creation of copyrights e.g. software, music, and art, and use trade secrets to protect confidential information that is not otherwise protected by patents, trademarks, or copyrights.

When collaborating with external partners such as law firms, patent agents, and licensing experts, make sure you enter into a collaboration agreement that deal with ownership and use of any IP generated by the collaboration.

You can also use licensing agreements to monetise your IP assets and generate revenue.

Enforce your IP rights

You can enforce your IP rights through legal remedies such as cease and desist letters, litigation, and injunctions. As previously mentioned, investing in IP watching services and web crawlers can help you detect and prevent infringement.

Keep assets secure

There are a number of online tools and software designed to protect IP assets, such as digital rights management (DRM) and encryption. However, for physical IP assets, such as prototypes and trade secrets, you may want to consider using physical security measures like access control or surveillance.

Avoid an IP crisis

Developing and implementing an IP-focused crisis management plan is a good way of helping prevent an IP crisis. This should include ensuring employment contacts assign ownership of IP developed by employees during the course of their employment, and ensure that contract with relevant suppliers or consultants contain similar IP vesting provisions.

Businesses can create a culture of IP awareness and protection for employees through conducting regular IP training sessions for both employees and partners so that the whole company stays up to date with the latest IP laws and regulations.

Seek professional advice for your intellectual property

The intellectual property solicitors at Lodders have many years of experience in helping clients to identify their intellectual property rights, and helping them to protect, commercialise, and defend them.

For help or advice on identifying, understanding, and protecting your intellectual property rights or managing a large IP portfolio, please do get in touch.

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Need more advice?

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