A business plan is created to ensure that the resources and assets of a business are being utilized to develop and retain a competitive edge in the marketplace. For a new business it provides a blueprint for success, while for an ongoing business it provides an overview of where a business is at present and how it seeks to achieve its objectives to become and remain successful.
Why should intellectual property (“IP”) be integrated into your business plan?
Regardless of what product a business makes or service it provides, it will encounter, create, and use IP. To survive and grow, a business needs to know how to capture, protect and manage IP, and how to avoid conflict with the IP rights of others.
New or original knowledge and the creative expression of ideas is the driving force of successful, modern businesses. Therefore, safeguarding such knowledge and creative expression from inadvertent disclosure or its unauthorized use by competitors is becoming increasingly critical for developing and retaining competitive advantage since IP assets like patents, copyrights, trademark and design applications and registrations can be bought, sold, and licensed.
Most entrepreneurs would argue that the product they are offering is innovative, unique, or superior to the offerings of competitors. If you believe it is, you will have to prove it, and successfully registering your IP is the best proof available toward this end.
Trade names, trademarks, and domain names may be the prime elements that differentiate your product from competitors’ offerings. Therefore, your proposed trade name, trademark, and domain name should be carefully chosen and the steps taken to register these marks should be referred to in your business plan. Similarly, steps should also be taken to gain copyright registrations for creative works, so the creator can retain control over the distribution and use of those works.
For many businesses, confidential business information alone may be the source of their competitive advantage. In such circumstances, it is important that you have taken adequate steps to protect this significant business information — known as trade secrets — from employees and competitors. In fact, even your business plan is a valuable document that should not be disclosed except on a “need-to-know basis” and only after that party has first signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement.
In addition, you will want to make sure that the product you propose to sell is not relying, without authorization, on the trade secrets, copyrighted materials, patents or other IP rights of another party as this may fatally compromise your own business while enduring expensive and painful litigation.
Because IP provides your company with competitive advantages and increases its value, it is necessary to integrate them into your business plan from the beginning. For help or questions concerning either business plans or intellectual property, please do not hesitate to contact us. Also, to learn more about our Intellectual Property practice and the services we offer, click here.