Is Intellectual Property a long-term investment or a short-term expense?

When it comes to Intellectual Property, what is the first thing that comes to your mind? In our short experience of being a lawyer, we often see people being inquisitive but puzzled by what we do. What we feel, as IP Professionals, is that any person who owns a business or is in the creative industry will always need an IP lawyer before needing a practising litigator.

Seldom do we see small business owners, creative professionals seeking out for Intellectual Property solutions and this is where we need a mindset to change. Now, the usual notion is that protection of Intellectual Property is only beneficial and essential for tech companies. This is not true, all businesses that invest a huge amount of their time and money in the research and development phases of their companies, need IP protection.

Intellectual Property is like any other long-term investment that you would make in your lifetime. The notion behind IP protection is that; intellectual creations of the human mind should have the same protection rights as any other physical property. We need to understand that a brand value for a business or company is what makes it stand out and gives a place in the market.

IP assets in the form of softwares and patents have been a huge hit with the tech giants. In most cases, IP assets in a company are protected and treated in a very defensive manner. But we need to recognize the fact that a good IP portfolio for a company can act as a weapon and a guard at the same time. It helps the innovations and creations to convert into long-term revenue builders and drastically improves the market position of your brand. If a company understands the right value of their IP, they can leverage these assets in a great way and in turn have it as a long-term investment.

Companies, brands and startups constantly overlook their intellectual property thinking it is just another unnecessary legal expense. In a country like India, where the economy is constantly in a tight space with respect to each industry and ideas are constantly generated, we need to understand the implications of not protecting your intellectual creations. We all know unique inventions tend to be untouched and unshaken by all kinds of storms. It is essential to give your Intellectual Property priority for it to convert into a fruitful investment.

A good IP portfolio fosters the relationship between a creator and a consumer. Some of our really trusted brands have secured their IP and that helps us to always go back to them.

Let’s consider the example of Nike. Nike has its brand protected majorly by three types of Intellectual Property; Patents, Trademarks and Designs. Design being one of the key types of IP involved in the company’s success.

  • Nike’s bedrock in patents was its ‘Air Technology’ which was licensed from NASA. Nike seeked an exclusive, worldwide license right to make and sell footwear and goods related to it.
  • For Trademarks, Nike and its swoosh designs were treated as their most valuable asset and they got it registered in over 100 countries and they always defend their marks from all sorts of infringement.
  • For Designs, Nike made optimum use of utility design patents and protected all footwear types and their technologies.

What we can conclude from this is that, not all brands might consider it necessary to protect their IPs but the ones that do, end up only gaining and not losing. Nike’s IP protection graph started with Patents, Trademarks and Designs but even after their patent protection expired, their success continues and is still dependent on Trademarks and Designs.

Some of the key points of advantages that we can gather from this article for building a good IP Portfolio are:

  • Protecting your services and commercial goods
  • Blocks out market competitors
  • Assets from Licensing and royalties

So, why should we treat IP as an expense when it can be a great investment!

Reach out to us to understand the ‘hows’ of Intellectual Property as an investment.

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