Every business should have a comprehensive intellectual property protection plan. The term “comprehensive” is intended both to reflect the basic concept that the plan should cover all of a business's intellectual property of significant value, and that it should use all available legal regimes and business practices to protect such intellectual property.
The process of developing a comprehensive intellectual property protection plan will generally involve the basic steps of:
- Identifying intellectual property of value to the business currently in existence or likely to be developed; types of intellectual property are discussed below.
- Determining what legal regimes, such as patent, copyright or trademark regimes can be used to protect the business's intellectual property.
- Determining what business practices can be used to enhance the protection of the business's intellectual property.
- Estimating the cost of such legal regimes and business practices.
- Determining which of the identified legal regimes and business practices to utilized based on a cost-benefit analysis.
- Forming a plan to implement the selected legal regimes and business practices.
Keep in mind that the above steps are an ongoing process that continues for the life of the business. In particular, certain types of businesses, such as technology-based businesses, may be continuously generating new intellectual property, and addressing the protection of such intellectual property promptly should be a priority.
Comprehensive intellectual property protection planning may appear to be a significant burden and expense, but such planning helps to protect significant assets of a business and enhances the value of the business.