Highlight: IP strategy shouldn't be an afterthought

Businesses shouldn't wait until there's a threat, dispute or missed opportunity

Highlight: IP strategy shouldn't be an afterthought

As the world was made to adjust to new ways of living by the COVID-19 pandemic, the new-normal environment has given rise to many innovations. Thus, establishing ownership of ideas is more important than ever, and developing a strong IP strategy is crucial for a business.

James & Wells partner Gus Hazel pointed out in the 2020 Sector Focus: Protecting your property - IP Law in 2020 published by NZ Lawyer and Australasian Lawyer that many companies think about their IP position in a strategic way only after a threat, dispute or missed opportunity has surfaced.

“Leaving IP strategy or even not bothering to explore protection until ‘later’ can increase the risk of making costly mistakes or losing the ability to own your innovations exclusively,” Hazel explained. “When a business works on its IP strategy from the beginning and integrates it into the broader business strategy, we find they tend to make better investment decisions and capture more value from their work.”

Businesses need to step back and ask themselves what they are creating, and whether they are maximising that creation, he said. Strategic planning for IP protection shouldn’t be seen from as an expense, but rather an investment.

“As a litigation lawyer, I can guarantee that prevention is much cheaper than the cure. Getting IP protection and dealings organised may cost a bit in the short term but will save much, much more in the long term,” Hazel said.

Keeping an eye on trademarks and patents can also clue businesses on competitor activity, he added.

“Trademark and patent searches can also provide valuable information and intelligence on which markets competitors are filing in and what technology they are focusing their efforts on. This can help make better choices about investments going forward, such as by identifying gaps or at least avoiding crowded or low-profit market spaces,” Hazel said.

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