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Time For A Business IP Spring Clean?

The Jacarandas are in bloom, the NRL and AFL grand finals have come and gone, and Spring is definitely here. What better time to spring clean your IP portfolio and ensure that you have an effective and relevant IP strategy in place.

With the current pandemic, businesses are operating and pivoting at an amazing pace, and it is all too easy for an existing IP portfolio to become irrelevant and forgotten underneath the cobwebs.

The following spring cleaning checklist is designed for business owners and management to review and update their IP portfolio to ensure it aligns with and supports underlying business goals.

Take stock of your key markets

Undertake an assessment of your key markets and consider whether these key markets align with your current IP protection.

Have your key markets changed, or will they change in the near future?

Check to see whether your current IP portfolio can be extended to cover any new key markets.

Sow seeds for new IP and prune back old IP

Review your current IP portfolio against your current product or service range and consider whether your IP protection adequately protects your current product or service range.

Products and services are constantly evolving, and it may be necessary to file a new patent, design or trade mark application to cover new products or services.

It may also be necessary to prune back old IP rights that are no longer relevant.

Research your competitors

Keeping tabs on your competitors, particularly in relation to their IP, can keep you ahead in the game. Indeed, understanding your competitors’ IP positions enables you to make informed strategic business decisions about product and service ranges as well as anticipate and/or avoid potential infringement pitfalls.

Consider undertaking patent and design searches to glean valuable information about what your competitors are up to.

You may even wish to consider putting an IP watch in place to periodically monitor one of your competitors’ IP activity.

On the flip side, ensure all your IP protected products and services are appropriately marked to ensure your competitors know where your IP boundaries lie.

Review agreements and contracts

All employment contracts and confidentiality agreements ought to be regularly reviewed to ensure they are still relevant.

If your business engages contractors, ensure any corresponding agreements have relevant IP assignment clauses in place assigning any IP developed by the contractor back to your business.

Review IP payments

Review all upcoming renewal fees for the year ahead and consider allowing any cobwebbed IP rights to lapse through non-payment if they are no longer relevant.

Review your trade marks

Trade marks are a use it or lose it type of IP right. Accordingly, ensure all your trade marks are being used in respect of the claimed goods and/or service.

If the actual goods or services provided under a trade mark have changed, check that the trade mark still provides adequate protection. If not, consider filing a new trade mark application covering the actual goods or services being provided.

IP protection is the cornerstone of any successful business. A regular “spring clean” will keep your IP portfolio fresh, relevant and aligned with your business strategy. Feel free to contact us at Kings for assistance in spring cleaning your IP portfolio.

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