What is Intellectual Property Strategy?

Jane Lambert
19 May 2017

Intellectual property strategy is the systematic application of intellectual property laws to achieve business objectives. It can include anything from a decision not to secret disclose the information except in confidence that may never be reduced to a lengthy policy document covering a business's prosecution, licensing and enforcement strategy in multiple jurisdictions. The purpose of such a strategy is to prioritize expenditure, monitor outcomes and generally to facilitate decision making.

Relationship to a Business Plan

A properly constructed IP strategy should complement and amplify a business plan in much the same way as a marketing plan and budget are supposed to do. Sometimes it may be convenient to annexe the IP strategy to the business plan together with those other documents. The time span of the IP strategy should be consistent with the business plan, expenditure must not exceed whatever provision may have been made for IP in the budget, patenting must relate to the company's plans for research and development and trade marks to its plans for distribution and marketing.

Intellectual Property Audit

In order to plan effectively, a business should have precise knowledge of its intellectual assets and actual and potential intellectual liabilities in each of the countries in which it operates and, if different, in which its competitors operate.  This will require regular intellectual property audits.

Who should devise the Strategy?

Because an IP strategy should complement and amplify a business plan it should be drawn up by the business owner or senior management in cooperation with the company's professional advisers. These will usually include the company's lawyers and patent or trade mark attorneys but should not be limited to them. There will also be important roles for the company's financial, marketing and technical advisers.  Wherever possible, the team should include an IP strategist, ideally someone who is independent of the attorneys and other legal services providers and can, therefore, advise objectively. Members of the specialist IP bar are well suited for that role.

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