Do Your Employees Understand the Value of the Intellectual Property They Create and Handle Every Day?

by: Natalie Giroux

Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile – Abu Bakr

If your company is based on an innovative product or service, you probably understand that Intellectual Property (IP) is one of your most valuable assets. Unfortunately, your employees, who are tasked to create and handle it on a daily basis, may not have sufficient knowledge to protect it effectively. Without proper training several mistakes can be made in the early days that can affect the value of your IP portfolio in the long term.

Your employees need to understand, from day one, that simple actions or lack thereof can have both short term and long-term implications. For example, something as simple as what they do or don’t write down can become your best ally or your worst enemy in the future.

Regardless of the stage of your company, it is important to develop a comprehensive IP policy, customized to your specific business and to ensure ALL employees understand it.

The following list provides some important actions that should be part of an IP policy which will make a big difference in the future of a company’s IP portfolio:

  • Maintain effective security in the work premise and on computers
  • Proper classification and handling of classified information
  • Careful use of appropriate “log books” or “lab books”
  • Proper marking of IP assets ®, ™ or “patent pending”
  • Immediate documentation of ideas in Invention Disclosure Forms and regular mining sessions to extract innovation in new features
  • Careful use of standardized features which can be patented (See Lucent vs. Newbridge Networks. District of Delaware. 1999)
  • Careful use of freeware and shareware code

By explaining early on to your employees how to protect your IP and its impact on your company value, you will foster an IP-conscious culture and your company will be rewarded by a strong IP that becomes a valuable asset to be monetized in the future.

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