Assessing Your Company's Intangible Assets
The end of the year is an excellent time for business owners to review the intellectual property of their business and create a plan for securing protection in the new year. In our digital and online world, intellectual property is often one of the more valuable assets of a business, but because of the many other responsibilities of running a business, the steps for securing this protection is relegated to the bottom of the list of “to dos”. To the contrary, it’s important that you assess your company’s intangible assets on a regular basis.
Intellectual property refers to the intangible assets of a business including but not limited to its:
- Trademarks [brands]
- Customer lists
- Trade secrets and
- Business goodwill and reputation
When properly administered and secured these intellectual property rights can, for instance, help a business owner collateralize these assets, combat infringement and enter into revenue generating licensing agreements, which ultimately increase the value of the business.
The Task of Assessing Intellectual Property
The sheer number of potential intellectual property assets a business has can be overwhelming to an owner who must deal with numerous other items on a daily basis, which often results in intellectual property audits being ignored. This is a mistake.
Depending on the size of the business, a general review of its intellectual property should take most businesses between a couple of hours up to maybe a day. Spending a day to determine how to increase the value of a business is time well spent.
What Should the Asset Review Entail?
- First, the owner should determine what trademarks including logos, slogans, taglines the business relies on consistently.
- Second, the owner should determine what content the business creates or whether it hires others to create its content.
- Third, if the business is creating new products or methods the owner may consider patent protection and should confirm that any innovations are kept confidential.
Once this general review is completed, a business owner should contact an intellectual property attorney. The owner and attorney will discuss steps to help protect any of the identified assets that are considered of value, which may include securing trademark registrations, patents and copyright registrations. The attorney will also be able to counsel the owner on best practices to secure the confidentiality of trade secrets and other data owned by the business.
As business owners undertake a year-end review, they should also take the time to to assess their company’s intangible assets. Taking the steps in 2020 to secure intellectual property rights can pay off with real world dividends and advantages for years to come.