(continued from the post of October 8, 2012)
In an IP audit, your lawyer will wield the shovel and dig for hidden IP treasure. Leveraging IP requires a number of disciplines to carry it off successfully: technical, legal, business and economic expertise. To maximize the effectiveness of your IP audit, you should try to develop an integrated strategy with the help of legal counsel. Equally as important, your legal adviser must keep in mind that monetization of IP assets is not the only way to provide value to your business.
At its core, an IP audit is simply an inventory of the IP assets (trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and patents) that your company already owns or thinks it owns.
Once the assets are identified, they should be analyzed with the following goals in mind:
• Knowledge of your company’s assets will assist in deciding which assets to acquire, maintain, and how best to manage the assets;
• Knowledge of your IP assets can enhance your company’s value as an acquisition target;
• Licensing of IP assets can generate income and cash flow;
• Identification of IP assets will provide additional collateral in secured lending situations, enhancing creditworthiness and borrowing ability;
• Knowing the identity and value of IP assets allows a more informed view of what assets and rights should be enforced;
• Knowing IP assets allows you to decide which ones (of lesser or no value or utility) can be ignored, reducing maintenance costs.
Following an IP audit, you can take relatively simple preventative measures in ordinary business practices to avoid disputes and improve your business’s position. In the end, an IP audit provides a snapshot of assets that you don’t always see, and may not think about, when you, and others, are valuing your business. It is a good way, when people of varying training and disciplines are involved, to look back at your company’s practices, while thinking forward to enhancing the value of existing IP assets.