Advanced Intellectual Property Strategies – Part 3 Advanced Value – Tracking Procedures to Build Value

3. Advanced Value – Tracking Procedures to Build Value

Many companies do not understand that the documentation needed to track intellectual assets is simple when done right, and it doesn’t add any measurable cost to a new project. Here are a few suggestions for tracking your intellectual property in a way that protects your company against frivolous attacks.

·Establish a Common Location and Plan: Identify a common location for intellectual asset records, such as a binder, and keep all of the information relating to the asset there. Having a common location with a plan for what to collect and how to organize it makes your company’s job of tracking and documenting much easier and significantly reduces the chances of losing or missing important information.

Many companies are under the false belief that information can be gathered later if it is needed to prove authorship or obtain a registration. The reality is, however, that much of the important information gets thrown away during occasional cleanings or was never saved to begin with. Furthermore, the employee who created the work may not be around anymore and the company cannot remember any of the details.

·Document Ownership and Creation Records: One key to establishing the value of an intellectual asset is to document your company’s ownership of each intellectual asset you create. Through your system for tracking and documenting the asset, keep a record of how and when the intellectual asset was created, who participated in its creation, and any assignment documents that are needed to confirm company ownership.

Documenting ownership and creation helps the company show that the asset was not taken from someone else and, depending on the type of work, that the company has a right to use it. Each type of intellectual asset (invention, idea, software, graphic, marketing project, trademark, etc.) requires different types of information to be collected, so become familiar with what is best for each type of asset.

·Identify Origin Support: In some cases, the work that is created is completely new and that fact should be indicated in the records. However, in most cases, the project participants rely upon and even incorporate components of earlier works into a current assignment. This is both more efficient and less costly. Documenting (preferably with copies) what material was relied upon and what was incorporated into a project in whole or in part provides at least two relevant benefits. First, it helps the company ensure that it has rights to whatever it is producing (and has not incorporated material that belongs to someone else). Second, that evidence can be used to show the creative process and confirm that there was no improper copying or that the company was entitled to copy something in the public domain.

By the time someone accuses your company of infringement, the original project participants may be gone from the company or have forgotten how the work was created. Appropriate record keeping can literally save hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees defending against an infringement suit.

·Record Use Evidence: Any publication or use of the intellectual asset or its parts should also be tracked and documented. Even if you do not intend to file for formal protection of an intellectual asset, documenting publication and use of a valued asset can help to show when you first established your public ownership of the asset or placed the asset into the public domain. Making a record of the use of the asset also helps you track its effectiveness in your business strategies and

Through appropriate tracking and documenting of valued intellectual assets, not only can a company realize additional value from the asset, but also significantly reduce the extent of future expenses and hassle relating to false infringement claims. Have a plan, understand the nature of your company’s intellectual assets, and enjoy the security of knowing you can prove the assets are yours.