All businesses have some intellectual property (IP), and most can do with a better IP strategy. For a better IP strategy it helps to ask the right questions.

Here are 10 practical questions for a business or idea based on IP. They come from tracking hundreds of client matters in our firm. The questions are especially useful for an IP strategic planning exercise.

10 IP strategy questions

Answer these 10 questions to develop, document and implement an IP strategy.

  1. What precisely is the IP and what level of protection is appropriate?
  2. Whose business strategy and business model is served by the IP and what documents and contracts record and document this?
  3. What special or unique elements are there in the IP or business strategy and can they be strengthened?
  4. When and in whose name should IP applications be lodged?
  5. In what way is the business and the IP ready for the competition?
  6. What business processes are critical and where are they documented?
  7. What else can be done to build the level of protection for the IP and the business?
  8. What assurance or security exists for the stakeholders?
  9. What value could realistically apply to current and future assets?
  10. What’s in it for stakeholders, including collaborators and backers?

Learning from medieval concentric castles

The photo in this article is of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria. It is almost 1,000 old. As a medieval concentric castle it is a castle within castles. Concentric castles were protected by two or more concentric walls and sometimes moats and challenging natural landscape. The inner defences were the highest.

We can apply the logic of concentric castle design to formulating an effective IP strategy.

Lest people fixate on the crown jewels, a reminder is needed that the walls are there to protect the jewels AS WELL AS people and relationships between people and organisations.

IP strategy, IP protection and organisational sustainability are enhanced in this way which helps share the joy in your castle.

Photo credit: Hugues de Saint Salvy (Flickr)

  • Store the crown jewels (intellectual property) near the centre of your business castle. The jewels may be patents, a set of copyrights, confidential information or something else under IP law. To protect the jewels, build walls to block competitors, infringers, freeloaders and pirates.
  • As recommended in the above list of questions, build legal walls around the crown jewels. For example questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 refer to law such as contracts and other legal documents.
  • Also recommended are management walls around the crown jewels. For these go back to questions 5, 6, 7, 9 and 10. These walls include those built from cash flow, strong organisational culture, and good and ethical relationships with family members, staff, directors, investors, shareholders, customers, suppliers, licensees and other collaborators.
Noric Dilanchian