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In the past, companies unveiled their commercial potential by taking only tangible assets such as infrastructure, turnover etc. But now in the knowledge economy, the trend is changed a lot. The companies consider not only the tangible assets but also intangible assets such as patents, trade secret etc. And one cannot know “what are their intangible assets?” without any review of the intangible assets. IP Audit may be a solution to the aforesaid statement.
Thus IP Audit may be defined as a systematic review of the IP assets owned, used or acquired by a business. IP Audit is used to uncover the underutilized IP asset, to identify any threats to a company’s bottom line, and to enable business planners to devise informed strategies that will maintain and improve the company’s market position. It helps the company to know their strengths and weaknesses after the valuation of their assets.
IP audit may help the company management to take right decision such as expanding of business, in-license an IPR). Also the IP audit may help the management to formulate proper and effective IP strategy with objective on ensuring that the company’s IP assets are used effectively and appropriately. So the company may understand value of the IP assets and thus may realize to protection of the assets in future.
The first step in the IP Audit is to identify the readily identifiable IP which may be termed external or internal asset. This may cover any registered trademark, copyrights, and patents owned by the company, any licenses to third parties and from third parties, including cross-licensing and IP pools. The in-house project manuals, databases, publications, stationery, agreements, and know-how. After the identification the IP assets, they are scrutinized whether they are not lapsed and enforceable and whether they are being effectively used. After that they are ranked on the scale of 1-5 based on the factors such as the importance of the technologies, life of the underlying IP in the said technology and the commercial potential of the technology.
The second step is to categorize the IP based on the factors of influence of the product embodying those IP. The influencing factors may include the company brand, product brand, goodwill of the company, certifications, regulatory approvals, and several business networks, client lists and various marketing and advertising programs.
After these two successful steps, the value of the individual IP assets is estimated. The value of the IP is estimated by considering, “how much will it cost to duplicate the same if it were lost”, “what is the expected income say in the next 5 years” etc. Various IP valuation methods are available which can be used to estimate the value the underlying IP asset.
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