Your IP needs you.
Wait, what? I have IP?
Brothers Cameron and Tyler didn’t think they had any IP. Sure, they had an idea for a new social media site, but it was 2003 and social media wasn’t a thing yet. So, without much thought – and no legal protection – they asked a fellow student to help them with the computer programming. That student – Mark Zuckerberg – went on to build a social media empire for himself using the brothers’ unprotected ideas.
This teaches a valuable lesson: Whether you’re in artificial intelligence, mobile app development, fintech, hardware, making products or widgets, or something else – every business has IP and uses it every day.
And that IP is also at risk every day. Risk of theft, misuse, and many other things that would be unfair for your competitors to get away with.
Yes, you have IP. And it needs you. It can’t protect itself.
What does my IP look like?
IP Myth: IP is just another word for patents or inventions.
IP Fact: IP is any idea, information or data that can be legally protected against unauthorized use.
What your IP looks like depends on your technology field, but typically it includes things like:
- proprietary software code or data
- trained AI models
- internal processes for developing products, hardware, software or models
- new functionality for software, hardware or a product
- manufacturing processes
- methods of repair
- graphical user interfaces
- know-how, such as how to develop a product or deliver services
- techniques for cleaning, managing, manipulating, storing or transferring data
- new business concepts
- and, of course, your business’s brand.
Why do I need to protect my IP?
IP Myth: IP is old-fashioned. Today, success is all about defending moats.
IP Fact: Buzzwords change, but good business practices don’t. Protecting your digital IP is more relevant than ever before. Your ideas, information and data are only valuable as long as you are able to protect them from competitors.
You’d be stupid not to lock your doors when you leave, right? Your IP needs the same mindset. There’s an old saying: “Ideas that are not tied down are free”. Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss learned that lesson the hard way. Your competitors certainly don’t want you to protect your IP.
But IP is not only about playing defense. Protected IP also represents real business value. A home built on swamp land won’t attract many buyers, and neither will an unprotected business. A colleague of mine says to her start-ups: “when you’re pitching to potential investors, do you really want a blank IP slide in your deck?”
Protected IP = business value.
Protecting your IP shows investors and competitors that you have a savvy business strategy. Protected IP can generate licensing income. It provides leverage in contract negotiations, and a counterpunch if you are sued for IP infringement. Some IP rights can even be used as collateral to secure bank loans. There are many reasons why protecting IP makes good business sense.
But you need to act. Your IP cannot protect itself.
In our next post, we’ll dive into the question of whether your IP is patient, or not.
- Protecting IP is more important than ever, because copying is easier than ever.
- “Ideas that are not tied down are free”.
- IP means any idea, information or data that can be protected.
- All businesses have IP.
- IP cannot protect itself. You must act.
*Todd is Chief IP Officer at Scale AI, and a lawyer, patent agent and IP strategist with 25 years’ experience helping startups, SMEs and multinationals protect and commercialize their IP.
Please Note: Concepts discussed here have been simplified to facilitate learning. You should consult a qualified IP lawyer or agent to discuss your unique IP needs. Protecting your IP should not be a do-it-yourself project.
Scale AI is Canada’s AI Supercluster, investing in AI supply chain projects, acceleration and talent development across Canada. Visit us at www.scaleai.ca to see how we can help your business grow.