You invented something novel? Great! Without intellectual property legal protections, your invention has little economic value. The good news is there are many sources of protection available, including patent law, trademarks and trade dress law, copyright law, trade secrets law, misappropriation law, confidentiality law and non-disclosure agreements. Most of these provide simultaneous overlapping protection, and it may be possible for you to get multiple damage awards against an infringer. . . . trade secrets, however, are a different animal.
Today the economy is going through a transformation. The term ‘knowledge economy’ is the recognition that knowledge is the driver of innovation and the creation of IP. IP is an enormous value driver for today’s companies, and it’s a value that is just now being recognized.
One of the biggest assets of most companies (public and private) is IP. In the 1970s, IP was not recognized as any kind of “asset.” Traditional assets such as plants, equipment, products, and inventory – tangible assets – comprised the lions’ share of a typical company’s assets. Today, these tangible assets represent less than 20%, and intangible assets – including IP – represent 80% of the balance sheet assets. Yet, the tremendous value of IP is often overlooked. It is viewed as an afterthought – something a company gets to protect its rights and not recognized as a value creator. However, that is quickly changing as stakeholders, investors and shareholders are now recognizing that companies with IP can indeed be very valuable.
If you’re an intellectual property owner who is not familiar with the licensing process or you don’t want to manage your own licensing program, then you should use a licensing agent. Although an agent adds to the cost of a licensing program, they bring experience, know-how and resources.