Some of a manufacturers’ most important assets are their intellectual property (IP)—intangible assets like patents, trademarks and trade secrets. For manufacturers, this can include, but is not limited to, proprietary information like product designs, unique processes, names and software.
Organizations that fail to protect their IP may struggle to foster innovation, keep up with the competition and reap the benefits of their inventions. The government offers a couple forms of IP protection, including patents, copyrights and trademarks. These classifications can protect things like:
- Tangible assets
- Names, phrases and branding associated with your products
- Trade secrets and the expression of ideas
While patents, copyrights and trademarks are critical, there’s more manufacturers can do. To further protect the various types of IP, consider the following strategies:
- Address IP ownership through written employee agreements. Clearly state that you own all IP generated by employees throughout their employment and that previously created IP—such as work done during prior studies—should not be used without clear permission.
- Address IP ownership through written agreements with contractors and service providers. Be sure to consider IP that is owned, generated or developed by all applicable parties throughout the duration of a contract or agreement.
- Address licence rights and IP ownership in agreements with customers. Key topics to consider include IP ownership, IP retention, and restrictions related to use, distribution, sublicensing and assignment.
In addition to the above, organizations should consider speaking to a qualified insurance broker to better protect their IP.
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