INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, A STRATEGIC ASSET FOR COMPANIES
In a highly competitive global environment, where power is constructed on ever greater inventiveness and protection of creations and where it is more and more difficult to deal with competition from countries with low labour costs, intellectual property constitutes an economic and strategic asset of the first order for companies but also for States.
For the company, more than simple protection, intellectual property is an instrument of conquest and communication.
A reasoned industrial property policy is a considerable contribution to:
- the defence and conquest of markets
- the image that the company wishes to give of itself
- the enhancement of its industrial property titles since it can assign them or licence them.
A company that attacks and knows how to defend itself has its rights respected and gains in repute. The industrial property portfolio constitutes wealth for the company and the latter can derive important benefits from it from the point of view of enhancement of its assets.
The CNCPI recommends launching an incisive innovation and intellectual property plan for encouraging companies to use IP:
- developing in companies a general intellectual property culture for better understanding of the general mechanisms of IP, its strategic character and its economic impact
- providing measures encouraging and supporting companies so that they have more recourse to IP, in particular the research tax credit
- making France an attractive legal place with regard to intellectual property with a veritable focus of excellence in this field in Paris, grouping together and reinforcing the competencies of magistrates
- developing a comprehensive service offer and bringing closer together the professions of patent agent and advocate.
Questions and answers
How does intellectual property represent a strategic asset for companies?
A patent, a mark, a model or copyright confers the right of preventing third parties from exploiting what is protected. More generally, if companies exploit all the intellectual property resources, it is at the same time a source of information, it can be enhanced by means of contracts and should be valued in the context of new international accounting standards (IFRS),
For the company, intellectual property is an instrument of conquest and communication: a reasoned IP policy is a considerable asset for the defence and conquest of markets and for the image that the company wishes to give of itself.
As a defensive arm, intellectual property protects the rights of inventors and innovative companies; as an offensive arm, it gives to all the economic operators the means of winning markets; as a dissuasion arm its threat suffices in many cases to avoid proceedings.
In an international competition context, intellectual property is for companies a strategic competitive means since it makes it possible legally to constrain competitors, limiting their freedom to manoeuvre, placing them in a situation of dependency, and in extreme cases excluding them from the market. This is why leading companies or those most aggressive commercially are so careful and active on the subject of IP.
A company can derive important benefits from it, both in terms of profit and in terms of image value.
What lines of action does the CNCPI propose so that companies are more aware of the advantages of IP?
Understand, train, promote, encourage, give confidence and communicate, such are the six lines of action that the CNCPI recommends:
- better understanding the innovation and intellectual property mechanisms, developing studies and research in this regard
- train all those who, in companies, have to deal with IP questions in order to give them the tools affording them strategic and economical mastery of IP
- promoting the development of IP, and first of all a French professional IP system that is attractive, dynamic and innovative for export
- encourage, by taking any truly incentivising measure, for example, in favour of share capital financing, or so that the value of IP rights are better understood by financial bodies, or in order to reinforce the links between public research and private research or on a fiscal level
- giving confidence, while being very attentive to the question of the quality of patents, marks and models
- communicating, showing the utility and the mechanisms of IP, which still remain too poorly understood.
How can companies optimise the management of their industrial property rights?
1 – Protecting yourself well, with your patent agent, in France and abroad, means:
With regard to patents:
- ensuring the patentability of your invention by avoiding in particular any disclosure before the filing of the patent application
- verifying freedom of exploitation of the invention with regard to the rights of third parties
- defining who will be the proprietor of the patent according to the status of the inventor.
With regard to trade marks:
- verifying the availability of the sign (marks, DNSs, country names, etc.)
- define who will be the proprietor of the mark (physical or legal person)
- ensure the validity of the sign (non-descriptive, distinctive, etc.)
- define the wording of the products and services that is the most suitable and the most reliable legally
- supplement protection with the reservation of one or more internet domain names
- choose the best formula for filing abroad (national/international/community routes)
2 – Correctly managing, with the cooperation of your patent agent, means:
- anticipating by filing as soon as possible
- regularly taking an inventory of your rights (strengths and weaknesses)
- selecting the marks to be renewed and/or the patents to be maintained or abandoned
- enhancing your rights by granting for example licences
- exploiting your marks in order to avoid actions for forfeit
- monitoring deadlines (not only for renewal)
- establishing contracts that accompany the exploitation of the patent or mark.
3 – Properly organising means:
Defining a proper strategy with your patent agent
- training staff (marketing, legal, etc.) in industrial property
- establishing an “industrial property” culture in the company
- communicating about your rights
- defining short and medium term objectives
- monitoring the competition
- regularly carrying out a legal and financial audit over the whole of the portfolio in order to calculate the return on investments stemming from industrial property
- evaluating your patents and marks in particular with a view to new partnerships, an assignment or a transfer etc.
- being conscious of the value of your rights
- have your rights respected and attack any infringement
Managing your marks and patents means therefore not only filing and renewing but properly constructing a policy and a strategy, established with your patent agent in order to master all aspects, sometimes complex and technical, which require the daily assistance of a specialist.