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Training courseware intellectual property protection

To earn and secure revenues from intellectual property licensing, providers of training or training courseware are well advised to apply available legal solutions with rigour.

This is easily done, it is neither expensive nor complex. However, implementation of the solutions requires specialist knowledge that is not commonplace.

Because of that reality it is commonplace for training organisations to poorly protect their intellectual property.

Our law firm has provided legal advice for numerous providers of training materials. These clients have sought to protect a range of assets. We've helped them achieve this using a combination of contract, trade mark, copyright and other intellectual property law. It has involved us in being chefs with law, not merely cooks.

Keeping it simple, the required legal solutions fall into a three level structure.

Each level involves applying a combination of practices, policies, legal strategums and legal documentation. The three level structure is set out below.

  1. An training courseware provider can self-generate training content (and thereby be its owner) to provide to end customers. An alternative is for the provider to license training content from third party suppliers. For best practice, such licensing should involve a clear written courseware licence agreement, in other words a legally binding contract. It's hopeless not having anything in writing, it's better to have something in writing, and it is best to have a professionally prepared and customised contract. It may also be a template contract which is customised on a case by case basis.
  2. A training courseware provider for best practice should use written contracts with end customers, ie clients who pay to have training provided. Here the legally binding contract, if it exists, will be in the nature of a consultancy or training services agreement. Among other things it would regulate the end customer's rights to copy or otherwise use the provided courseware or content.
  3. A training courseware provider for best practice should provide to the individuals who attend the courses materials which appropriately reflect or run parallel with what has been determined in levels 1 and 2 above. This might involve one or more of the following types of legal documentation - (a) conditions of use provided at the start of courses or as a notice in courseware; (b) intellectual property notices on the courseware, and (c) a legal condition of supply statement. These are solutions for regulating what recipients of the training or courseware can do with them as individuals, quite apart from their roles in the company or organisation which engages them (something dealt with at level 2).

A bag of unbranded traditional hasslenuts or raspberries are a commodity. There is no intellectual property associated with them, hence no IP revenues. They are not an intellectual property asset.  If you treat training offerings in a similar fashion they too will be akin to a commodity and will have a lower level of practical intellectual property production.

Productise training offerings and apply layers of protection - with contract and intellectual property law - and then you can earn IP revenues for that as well. That is the simple takeaway for this article.

Call if you'd like to discuss the tested solutions and services our lawyers can provide for your training company or organisation.


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