Early registration of IP rights can give you a competitive advantage over other companies operating in your market for years to come.
IP rights can help you in two ways: Protection and Commercialisation.
Protection carves out a niche for your business by using your IP rights to prevent others copying what you’re doing. Commercialisation allows you to directly generate revenue based on your IP rights.
IP rights can prevent any unauthorised use of your work products. Without this protection, that edge you have over your competitors can quickly be lost as those ideas are copied and exploited elsewhere.
A registered IP right (trade mark, patent, registered design) will afford you a monopoly to exclude your competitors from using what you register, even if they develop it independently. Registered rights therefore provide strong protection for your market position.
Unregistered IP rights (copyright, rights of passing off, unregistered designs) prevent others from copying your work. However, they don’t prevent others from developing it independently and therefore provide less protection of your market position.
IP rights can be hugely valuable assets in themselves, often accounting for a significant portion of a company’s net worth. Part of this is down to the protection they offer for your market position. However, IP can also be used to generate money in its own right as it can be licenced, used as security or sold (‘assigned’).
For example, some business models such as franchising and software distribution are almost entirely based on licensing IP rights.
A great advantage of IP rights is that, unlike tangible assets, they can be licenced to more than one party at any given time. An initial investment in creating IP rights can therefore continue to pay dividends well into the future, provided the rights are carefully managed and maintained.