It's 2014. Do you know what your business' intellectual property is doing?
If you didn't answer with an emphatic "Yes!" (or worse yet, had to stop and think about what exactly intellectual property is), then you may be a prime candidate for an IP audit.
What exactly is an IP audit, and what can it potentially do for your business? Here's what business owners need to know:
What Is an Intellectual Property Audit?
An IP audit is careful and complete review of your company's intellectual property assets, as Corporate Compliance Insights explains. Intellectual property includes any copyrights, patents and trademarks held by you or your company, as well as other original works, trade secrets, or formulas.
An IP audit also takes stock of your company's intellectual property management, policies and procedures. Such an audit is typically performed by an experienced intellectual property lawyer, trained to systematically catalog and critique every aspect of your business' intellectual property strategy.
Why Does Your Business Need One?
There are many reasons your company may want to consider an IP audit, even if you're not in the technology sector. For example, an IP audit can:
- Identify and correct any deficiencies in your IP strategy. One of the most important benefits of an intellectual property audit is the inevitable discovery of missteps in your IP management, such as unregistered intellectual property or possible ownership issues in key IP assets.
- Pinpoint any possible infringement issues. An IP audit can also help uncover potential infringement issues, such as a logo that may be dangerously similar to a competitor's or music that wasn't properly licensed.
- Help to protect against patent / trademark trolls. Patent and trademark trolls are the bane of 21st century businesses; they exist solely to file lawsuits against people and entities for alleged patent and trademark infringement. Although the government is looking to crack down, in the meantime, an IP audit can identify possible threats and help your business defend against these costly and time-consuming lawsuits.
If you'd like to learn more about intellectual property and how to protect your business' IP assets, check out FindLaw's section on Small Business Intellectual Property.
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