Formulating an effective IP strategy requires engaging all relevant aspects of a business, including financial teams and decision-makers, in order to ensure consistency and ensure all valuable assets are identified, valued, and safeguarded accordingly.
Companies with IP strategies aligned with business goals are more likely to deter threats and take measures against bad actors, and have higher percentages of registered IP in active use.
Geographical filing trends
WIPO’s World Intellectual Property Indicators (WIPI), an annual survey that draws upon data from more than 150 national and regional IP offices worldwide, revealed that patent, trademark and industrial design filings continued their upward trajectory around the world in 2021 despite previous economic downturns.
China was the leader in 2021 when it came to patent applications with over half (3.4 million) filed worldwide – more than any other nation or region – followed by the U.S., Japan, Republic of Korea and European Patent Office offices.
Industrial designs saw the highest non-resident filing activity levels for products pertaining to clothing, accessories, furniture and household equipment, leisure and education tools and machines as well as electricity lighting ICT audiovisual technologies in 2021, followed by research technology agriculture health business services.
Intellectual property (IP) strategies become more important as supply chains change. Companies need to protect their innovations and intangibles to secure their market position and maintain a competitive edge in a rapidly evolving business environment. Some considerations for IP Strategy as Supply Chains Evolve are;
Effective IP protection and enforcement
Intellectual property (IP) is one of the greatest assets a business possesses and protecting it requires a solid legal framework. Businesses operating across borders face additional difficulties when trying to ensure their IP is effectively protected and enforced; one way for companies with supply chains in multiple countries to meet this challenge is by registering key technologies with relevant jurisdictions in which the technology will be developed or sold – using patents, copyrights or trademarks where appropriate and considering licensing strategies in those jurisdictions for IP monetization and protection.
An obstacle to creating an effective IP strategy lies in those who question its link with innovation and intellectual property rights. Opponents often contend that strong IP protection only benefits large corporations and wealthy nations; therefore developing countries should instead focus on acquiring high-tech exporting industries as an interim measure – but such thinking ignores evidence demonstrating productivity growth across all economic sectors, rather than solely within some high-tech fields, drives economic development.
Effective IP protection and enforcement in developing countries involves adopting an integrative strategy, which includes strengthening governance, employee, and supply chain practices, and training on confidentiality as well as protection of sensitive information. Such steps will allow companies to close gaps in IP security while increasing efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
Organizations can enhance the effectiveness of such a holistic approach by prioritizing the registration of core brands or designs to increase the odds that they will be protected in case of any infringement by third parties. They should also encourage suppliers to register IP assets in each jurisdiction where they operate.
Reframing intellectual property debate at major multilateral forums and agencies that address innovation policy is another essential step toward developing an effective IP strategy. This effort should involve like-minded governments, businesses, NGOs, etc. — noting there is no choice between an economic framework that promotes and elevates innovation versus weak IP protections.
Companies have increasingly made the choice to onshore production as they believe it provides a more resilient supply chain. Being in control from the very start allows companies to reduce costs, avoid delays, and respond promptly when issues arise, which ultimately enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty, thus offsetting any costs associated with onshoring production.
However, this approach comes with its own set of challenges. For instance, labor skills shortages in many domestic markets make it challenging to hire and retain qualified employees, necessitating significant capital expenditures to build new facilities and train workers. Importing materials and components may also increase consumer prices while decreasing competitiveness for companies.
Global supply chains have become interdependent, meaning any disruption could have repercussions for multiple participants – be it tight labor markets, shortages of shipping containers, or geopolitical tensions. Given this risk, having an effective collaborative innovation approach becomes even more vital.
Collaboration must involve all parties involved, from stakeholders such as suppliers to businesses themselves and suppliers alike. In order to be successful, collaboration requires that all stakeholders – including suppliers – work together. Companies will need to review their IP strategies and decide how they will protect innovative ideas from theft or misuse by others, while considering formal IP protection as a tool against competition and increase bargaining power.
Start-up companies often face difficulty when trying to bring innovations to market for the first time, particularly without prior experience in doing so. Formal IP protection such as patents or trademarks is costly but allows businesses to exclude competitors and preserve bargaining power; however, adopting this strategy could result in longer development cycles and higher transaction costs, potentially diminishing any profits that emerge from emerging technologies.
As procurement chiefs seek to balance competing demands of cost, service, sustainability, agility, and resilience in procurement processes, they must be cautious not to overemphasize on shoring as this may create significant difficulties if key technologies must be procured from abroad where IP protection may be limited. Instead, they should opt for a combination of on-shoring, nearshoring, and friend shoring where trusted suppliers in friendly countries with multiple independent supply paths provide these critical services.
Emphasizing Trade Secrets Protection
In today’s competitive business environment, where the pace of change is rapid and intense, it’s important to protect trade secrets. Trade secrets are confidential, valuable pieces of information that give a company a competitive advantage. These include proprietary formulas and manufacturing processes, as well as customer lists, marketing plans, business strategies, and other sensitive data that could be disclosed to competitors.
When discussing trade secret protection, here are some important points to remember:
Nature of Trade Secrets
Trade Secrets are a variety of information not easily accessible to others or known by the general public. Trade secrets are not required to be registered with the government. Their protection is based on their secrecy.
The most important feature of trade secrets is their confidentiality. Trade secrets are valuable because the public and competitors do not know about them. To maintain their competitive edge, it is vital to maintain confidentiality.
Trade secrets are applicable to a variety of information and knowledge. They can be used in a number of industries and sectors. These include recipes, manufacturing methods, customer lists, and marketing strategies. They can also include business plans, pricing information, and research and development data.
Not Disclosed Publicly
Trade secrets are not disclosed to the public. Unlike patents which require disclosure of invention details, trade secret information is kept private. A company can keep its information secret and maintain a monopoly on its unique processes or data. This makes it hard for competitors to copy or replicate.
Trade secrets are protected by laws and regulations in many countries, although the details can vary. Trade secrets in the United States are protected by the Uniform Trade Secrets Act or the Federal Defend Trade Secrets Act. These laws offer legal remedies in the event of misappropriation.
In order to protect trade secrets, companies need to implement strong confidentiality measures. It may be necessary to limit access to sensitive data to those who need to know it, require employees and contractors to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and implement secure data management and storage systems.
Employees should be informed about trade secrets, and what steps to take in order to protect them. Regular training in data security, confidentiality, and compliance with company policies can foster a culture that protects trade secrets.
Agreements with Vendors and Partners
It is important to include confidentiality clauses in agreements when working with vendors, suppliers, or partners. This will protect your trade secrets. These agreements can set out clear expectations, and the consequences of breaching them.
Physical Security and Digital security
Both digital and physical security measures are essential to safeguard trade secrets. Physical access control, visitor protocols, and surveillance can prevent unauthorized entry to sensitive areas. Cybersecurity measures such as encryption, firewalls, and access controls will protect digital assets.
Regular Evaluation and Auditing
Companies must conduct regular audits in order to evaluate the effectiveness of their trade secret protection. Finding and fixing weaknesses quickly can reduce the risks of unintentional disclosures or unauthorized entry.
Innovation & Differentiation
Trade secret protection can encourage businesses to invest more money in R&D. Businesses are more willing to develop new products and technologies if they know that their proprietary information and innovations are protected.
Litigation and Enforcement
If a company is the victim of a trade secret theft, or misappropriation in any way, it should be ready to enforce its legal rights. Determining to protect trade secrets, and taking legal action to stop infringements can deter potential violators.
Protecting Trade Secrets and Fostering Collaboration
It is important to protect confidential information, but businesses must also strike a balance in order to foster collaboration and cooperation within the supply chain and partnerships. This balance can be achieved with well-drafted agreements and contracts.
Build IP portfolio cost-effectively
Intellectual property (IP) is an indispensable operating asset of most businesses, propelling growth and supporting cash flows. Therefore, it’s vitally important that a strategic plan for your company includes an IP strategy in order to ensure intellectual property development aligns with company goals – this will reduce costs while improving returns on investment while maximizing portfolio value.
An Intellectual Property Strategy is a roadmap that outlines how and where intellectual property should be developed. This may involve setting out criteria and processes for creating and protecting patents, trademarks, copyrights, and designs as well as timelines required to complete various activities related to IP such as conducting preliminary searches, designing new products or filing for patent protection.
As part of an effective IP strategy, conducting regular Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) analyses with your team is vital to ensure the company focuses on developing and protecting its most valuable assets. In addition, reviewing competitor IP activity periodically is also recommended given how fast the competitive landscape can change; this can be accomplished by reviewing published IP from competitors as well as their patents to determine their patentability, novelty, and the risk that they might become litigation targets.
Heads of IP often face pressure to reduce costs during challenging times, like the recent COVID-19 pandemic, such as when service fees and quality control decline significantly. But this should not interfere with long-term plans to expand and build an effective IP portfolio; to be effective and ensure business needs are met without impact, look for quick wins that don’t compromise long-term plans to build it successfully – this could include anything from trimming existing patents using geography/time screening criteria or reshaping external work efficiently to lower service fees while improving quality control – to finding quick wins that don’t compromise long term plans to grow or build it effectively –
Review of IP operations to identify areas for improvements that could increase efficiency and boost return on investments is also key, including conducting periodic checks of portfolio assets to make sure that they align with business goals, with assets no longer supporting the business being sold, licensed, or abandoned as necessary.