In this six-part series, Anders Isaksson explores some of the critical factors and motivators for why companies, small or large, should obtain intellectual property. The aim is to help you understand when and how you can create value from IP, especially when considering a company’s long and short-term goals.
In the last article in this series, we explored multiple reasons why intellectual property is attractive to potential investors. In this article, we consider some of the intellectual property mechanisms available to tie knowledge to your company (whatever its size or industry).
For any company, it is essential to keep information, products and know-how originating from different business activities within the company. One way of achieving this and at the same time formalising these activities is through intellectual property. Designs, trademarks, patents and trade secrets can tie your company’s know-how to the business, ensuring that the information, products and know-how stays within and continues to add value.
Trade secrets are a special type of intellectual property best suited for information or know-how that can be restricted to a select group of people. A trade secret is information or know-how that is commercially valuable, known only to a limited group of persons and can be subject to reasonable steps to keep the information or know-how secret.
For example, a situation where trade secrets could be a valuable protection mechanism is when an algorithm runs locally at a company’s site or in the cloud but is not accessible to anyone except a select group. In such a situation where there are computations are done remotely from any user and the output that goes back to the user, if any, is not easily reverse engineered, there could be great value in protecting such an algorithm as a trade secret. This could preferably also be combined with one or more patents.
The protection should preferably be formalised to the select group so that clearly understand that they are dealing with a trade secret and that they need to keep it secret. It could be a good idea to make them aware of this by using an additional agreement such as a non-disclosure agreement or other relevant agreements.
Intellectual property is one of the best sources to ensure knowledge is tied to your company. Depending on the knowledge – a combination of intellectual property rights may be used. It is worth taking the time to work with an intellectual property expert early-on to assess the best ways of keeping secrets a secret at your company.
If you have any questions on how IP can help your business or what combination of intellectual property rights would be most suitable – please reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Stay tuned for the third article in this series – Mergers and Collaborations (learn how intellectual property helps quantify knowledge before a merger or entering a collaboration).