Most people generally think of intellectual property (IP) as patents, trademarks and copyrights. What is often overlooked is that IP could actually more than just a product, brand, book or software. IP extends into many formats including customer information, software source code, business models, databases, operations manuals, professional expertise and much more.
It’s these additional parts of the intellectual property that are often overlooked, and could be some of the most valuable. Some examples include a business with professional expertise in business coaching or consulting that others can benefit from using. Or it could be an intellectual property that a company was unable to commercialize, and instead of just doing nothing, they could find other applications for it in different industries. An interesting example of a new IP application is Olestra, the fat substitute product from Procter & Gamble, which failed in the consumer market, and was re-purposed as a cleanser for contaminated soil.
An intellectual property inventory can benefit businesses of all sizes, simply by recognizing and doing a better job of exploiting their intangible assets. When identifying IP assets, here are a few things to look for:
Business IP includes more than just a technology or invention. It also includes inventions, know-how, expertise, etc., relating to business subjects such as management and operations, marketing and sales--the things that identify a business and differentiate it from its competitors. A business needs to analyze its systems, products, services, marketing, sales systems and customer support to determine whether there is anything about these assets that customers perceive as unique, better or distinctive.
If a business solves a particular problem, it has created a potential IP asset. If it solved a problem in connection with its business operations, marketing or sales, it’s likely that its competitors face the same problem. And that solution is also part of the business IP.
A company’s visibility in the form of trademarks and trade dress combined with its reputation and goodwill are all part of its IP. Often overlooked are the written materials and artwork relating to or created for the business -- works of authorship and artistic expression.
One of the best ways a business can recognize its intellectual property is to make a list. There are five categories that a business can divide its intellectual property assets into: marketing-related (e.g., trademarks and brands), customer-related (e.g., lists and contracts), artistic-related (e.g., books, movies and music), contract-based (e.g., licensing and franchising), and technology-based (e.g., patents and trade secrets).
“Intellectual property can have many applications or uses in different markets beyond its core product or service”, said Rand Brenner, President & CEO of Licensing Consulting Group. “The key is looking at a company’s intellectual property assets in new ways. In today’s global market, businesses can commercialize their IP directly, and use licensing to take advantage of new revenue opportunities without competing with their existing markets.”
Licensing Consulting Group is offering a free special report, Intellectual Property Inventory: Finding Your Hidden IP Assets. This special report provides a quick guide to help IP owners identify and inventory their IP assets. Through the IP Inventory process, a business can discover new and under under-utilized IP assets that can be commercialized. Taking inventory of intellectual property assets is often overlooked, yet it’s the first and most important step to capitalizing and monetizing the full value of those IP assets. This free report is available for download at the Licensing Consulting Group website.
About Rand Brenner
Rand Brenner has licensed some of the biggest Hollywood blockbusters, including “Batman” and the “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers”, both of which generated billions of dollars in worldwide merchandise sales. Mr. Brenner is President / CEO of Licensing Consulting Group, an intellectual property management and licensing company specializing in assisting clients in IP Management, Strategic Consulting, Acquisition of Licensing Rights, and Property Representation. He is also the co-founder of the IP Licensing Academy, an online training platform that offers information, coaching and resources to teach members how to commercialize and monetize their intellectual property. Rand Brenner is a speaker and has written several articles on licensing intellectual property that have appeared in the Licensing Journal and Intellectual Property Magazine.