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    What is IP?

    Intellectual Property (IP) protection is your answer

    Whether you are creating your own IPRs or you are “importing” them through a license-in, the financial implications may be very significant. It is therefore imperative to ensure that your investment is well protected and nobody can copy your products/services.

    How can you achieve this crucial result? Intellectual Property (IP) protection is your answer.

    First of all, let’s discuss and understand the notion of Intellectual Property (IP). IP may be defined as a set of exclusive rights granted or recognized by the State authorities to creators of new ideas.

    By protecting the outcome of your creativity (or of the creativity of a third party that you are acquiring by virtue of a license) through IP, you acquire exclusive rights over it. Your exclusivity is your incentive and reward for innovation and growth. But remember: your IP rights are territorial, i.e.: you are protected only in those countries where your IP rights have been duly filed and eventually registered. This is the famous and fundamental principle of TERRITORIALITY of IPRs that implies that:

    • if you plan to export to a new country, make sure to protect your relevant IPRs beforehand;
    • in each country, your IPRs will be protected by the national IP law and treated, for all intents and purposes, as national rights (in other words, there cannot be discrimination towards you and your IP rights simply because you are a foreigner).

    The ASEAN Economic Blueprint considers that intellectual property (IP) policy can serve as a powerful stimulus to (a) cultural, intellectual and artistic creativity and their commercialization; (b) efficient adoption and adaptation of more advanced technologies; and (c) continuous learning to meet the ever rising threshold of performance expectations.

    It also recognizes that IP policy can influence both the volume and quality of external trade and investment and the transfers of advanced, proprietary technologies. IP creativity is a major determinant of local value added and external competitiveness.

    Let’s describe the numerous strategies you can adopt to make your products/services more innovative and therefore more competitive:

    We said that you should try to make your products more aesthetically appealing, i.e., more beautiful. This effort to improve the shape of your products can be effectively protected by … industrial designs.

    protect the ornamental shape of utilitarian products

    We also mentioned that you could try to improve your products by enhancing their quality, improving their functionalities and/or lowering their price. This effort may be protected through … patents and utility models.

    protect an invention, a product or a process which represents a technical solution to a technical problem
    protect small inventions

    You will recall that a company could become more competitive by offering more personalized and effective after–sales service, or by adopting more sophisticated and forward-looking marketing strategies. Both after-sales services and marketing strategies can be protected through … trade secrets.

    protect any confidential business information that provides a company with a competitive advantage (precisely because it is kept secret)

    Your efforts to enhance your product’s brand reputation may be protected through … trademarks.

    protect signs that distinguish the products/services of a company or individuals from those of others

    Of course there are also other IPRs that can greatly contribute to your commercial success. By way of example, in the modern technology-based society, customers from around the world will want to be able to find your company and your products on the internet. You should therefore hurry up and register your … domain name.

    protect the core part of your address in the internet. Often they will encompass your (main) trademark

    Anything that you write with your pen or with your computer, starting from the brochure or advertisements of your company, to the reports that you draft, and the software that perhaps you produce, are automatically protected by … copyright.

    protect original creations in the artistic and literary field

    And finally, if you are fortunate to operate in a geographical area where products have special qualities or characteristics precisely because they are produced there, you might consider joining a local producers’ associations and obtain the protection of your … geographical indication.

    protect signs that indicate that a product originates in a given geographical area and its qualities, reputation, or other characteristics are essentially due to its geographical origin.

    In all the above cases, IP protection gives you the exclusive rights on your products and services. In other words:

    • your innovation will be protected from other competitors in the market;
    • your innovation remains your innovation;
    • no one else can grab the market space from you;
    • if anybody wishes to use your IPRs, they will have to obtain your prior authorization (and of course you will be able to charge for it!).

    This is your compensation and reward for the efforts you undertook in terms of research and development or for having entered into a licensing agreement with the legitimate owners of the IPRs.

    We already mentioned that IP can help you in every single step of your business cycle. The image below will remind you that:

    • Stages 1, 2 and 3 can be greatly enhanced with a proper and effective use of patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs, GIs, copyright;
    • Stages 4 and 6 will benefit from a judicious use of trade secrets;
    • Stage 5 will demand profound knowledge of all relevant IPRs, accompanied by sound negotiation skills and a strategic vision (see section of Licensing).

    Does IP enhance the value of your company? YES!

    The value of trademark APPLE at the end of 2014 was assessed at $118.9 billion.

    The value of each patent of Motorola was estimated at $510,000. And they had a portfolio of … 24,500 patents!

    (The Economist May 12-14, 2011)
    Can you use your IPRs to secure a loan with a bank? YES!

    More and more banks realize the IPRs have a value and they are inclined to use your IPRs, once evaluated, as collateral to guarantee your loan.