Intellectual property (IP) is a fundamental for most businesses and is a tool for creativity, innovation and education.
Definition: Intellectual property rights protect the expression of your idea in something you have made or created.
IP rights in New Zealand are known as tangible IP assets and include:
- trade marks to distinguish your goods and services
- patents for new inventions
- registered designs for the design of your products
- plant variety rights for new varieties in agriculture or horticulture, and
- copyright for your creative works like books, paintings and software.
(Intellectual Property Office NZ, www.iponz.govt.nz)
When we introduced IP to our teams at their last block course in Queenstown, we talked about this tangible IP and intangible IP.
When it comes to IP a lot of it is tied up in the know-how of the product. Some people gloss over the value of this know how. This know-how, as well as negative know-how, employment agreements, culture etc are considered ‘intangible’ IP assets. Often intangible IP assets are worth more in a business than the tangible IP assets.
Therefore, it’s important for you to document everything.
Documenting everything in the development and validation processes allows you to show potential partners or acquirers how you’ve got to your MVP. By keeping all your IP in one folder it makes it easier to share this information during any due diligence process a partner or acquirer requests. This is everything from prototype drawings to learnings on why a part of the idea didn’t work.
When it comes to developing an IP strategy, the base of your strategy should be capturing, formalising and protecting the key strategic value creators in the business.
This is the reason why it’s so important to document everything!
If you’re unsure about how to develop an IP strategy, there are plenty of IP firms in New Zealand who can help you to understand your IP requirements such as Catalyst, AJ Park, James and Wells and Alice Terry to name a few.
Make sure you ask for their expert advice – they’re there to advise! Most firms will do an introductory session with you to understand the challenges your facing before making a recommendation.
However, make sure you do your own due diligence on their firm before approaching them. This will ensure that they can help with the right IP strategies for your company.
You can visit the IPO (Intellectual Property Office) website for more detailed information on the different IP rights available in New Zealand.
So, what’s next?
If you’re ready to get started on developing your IP strategy, then the below three points are a recommended starting point:
- Google search – identify your competitors and understand their value creators
- Patent search – search for possible patents already registered, which could inhibit you from registering yours
- Trademark search – names of companies and products already in the market