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Six good questions for building wealth with intellectual property

Venture capital looks for great intellectual property (IP). So do many providers of seed capital, including angel investors like friends and family.

A single IP asset or right is rarely a silver bullet, be it a patent, a trade mark, a specific trade secret or some other IP.

Your IP will be more attractive to financial backers if you work on constantly perfecting a bundle of IP legal rights instead of daydreaming about a one shot silver bullet.

There's very rarely a patent, a trade mark or copyright work which on its own creates the foundation for a fortune, or even a steady income. McDonalds, Apple and The Wiggles are great IP businesses which pool a range of intellectual property, not just a silver bullet.

You need a lot more than your years of sweat equity before you can dump all your IP onto a $20 USB stick and claim its contents are worth $1 million in the hands of a licensee, buyer, or financier.

In recent months it has been pleasing to hear from clients who are realistic about their existing IP and the room for improvement.

They include IT clients, eg with portal website ideas, proposed social networking sites, technology for faster typing and multi-language input, and P2P technology strategies. There's also product clients, eg fashion sector accessories or merchandise and IT hardware. They also include consultantcy clients, including one in change management and another in investment.

There are still many prospects who email or call and daydream about their incredible domain name which they imagine by itself should be worth $X!$%!!!.

But there are more who recently have asked increasingly good questions. Here are six good questions I've heard:

  1. Here's what I know and what I have, what can an IP lawyer do to improve it? One reason this is a good question: it is an open question thus attracting dialogue over a broader and deeper range of issues.
  2. I'm thinking of registering a trade mark for my company's product. What precisely should I register, and how can I get a wider scope of IP monopoly rights given what competitors are doing? One reason this is a good question: not all trade mark registrations are equal, some are exceptionally better than others.
  3. I've got an idea for a business book, I want it to form a brand for my consultancy business, what should I do? One reason this is a good question: it has a vision combining three elements - copyright (in the book), trade marks (in the brand) and contracts (between people inside and outside the business).
  4. How much does it cost to prepare a provisional patent application, and is it worth it at this stage in my business? One reason this is a good question: too many patents are filed earlier than they should be.
  5. I want a non-disclosue agreement. Would it be appropriate to use it on its own as the basis for protecting my IP? One reason this is a good question: reliance on a non-disclosure agreement (AKA confidentiality agreement) should be combined with good record keeping practices and dealings informed by legal strategy.
  6. I have a valuable trade mark registration in Australia. Whats the best way to secure protection abroad, and should I first get thorough name search work done abroad? One reason this is a good question: risks and costs increase significantly when an Australian businesses ventures abroad. Consider the options, costs and alternatives before you lunge ahead.

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