Most people generally think of intellectual property like patents, trademarks, and copyrights. But your IP is more than just a product, brand, book or software. IP extends into many formats including customer information, software source code, business models, databases, operations manuals, professional expertise and much more.
These rights are different parts of your IP that create its value. Sometimes these parts can be separated from your core product or service, and licensed into other applications, uses or markets.
One example is professional expertise in training or consulting that others can use. One of my clients specialized in workplace safety training. I helped them convert parts of the training services into training courses and manuals, which were then licensed to companies wanting to set up their own internal safety training programs. Other examples include brands licensed into non-competitive products, or rights to sell your product in new distribution channels or countries.
So how do you figure out the most valuable parts of your IP? The best way is with an IP audit. It’s basically a list of all the types of IP you own. The IP audit process creates your IP Inventory. It helps you figure out the best parts of your IP to use in licensing. But the IP Audit does more than that. It also helps you find and correct any problems with your IP rights, such as failing to register it, or avoiding risks of your product or service infringing on another IP.
Remember, your IP is more than just a patent, trademark or copyrights. Regardless of what type of product or service you offer, your business is always using and creating some form of intellectual property. If you don’t know what you have, you can’t manage it. Just like physical assets, such as raw materials, finished goods, and equipment, you need an IP inventory to effectively manage and make money with the most valuable parts of your IP assets.
Rand Brenner is an IP professional whose passion is helping inventors, startups, and businesses of all sizes use licensing to turn their IP into income-producing products, services, and technologies. His decades of experience run the gamut from medical devices to food technology to consumer products. He’s licensed some of the biggest Hollywood entertainment blockbusters including the Batman Movies (1 and 2), and the number one kid’s action TV show, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Rand speaks about licensing and is a featured speaker at investment conferences, trade shows, colleges, and startup events. He’s a published writer with articles appearing in several prestigious trade magazine including The Licensing Journal, Intellectual Property Magazine, and License India. Rand also mentors at the Cal State Fullerton School of Business and Economics and is a judge for their startup business plan competitions.