Simple practices such as carrying out regular intellectual property (IP) inventories and paying your IP fees will help you maintain your IP rights.
Keep an updated IP inventory
Establish a routine
Establish a routine where you revisit an IP checklist to ensure you capture any new IP and maintain existing IP rights.
Include the following in your IP checklist:
- invention disclosures
- an overview of or reference to contractual agreements
- upcoming fee payments
- registration certificates
- other key documents
Map IP rights
Map each IP right to its respective services and products and include the expected expiry date, licensees and other limitations to using the IP.
Update the inventory and related documents
As many IP rights may be registered or unregistered and their terms of protection may expire, be sure to regularly update your IP inventory and related documents to reflect any changes in status. In this process, identify any IP you may want to divest yourself of, either by selling, licensing or simply abandoning it.
Note and monitor non-disclosure agreements
If the IP inventory contains references to non-disclosure agreements, trade secrets and other IP not yet formally protected, ensure that non-disclosure agreements are in place with employees, contractors and business partners, and monitor for breaches of confidentiality.
Maintain your rights
Many registered IP rights require the routine payment of maintenance fees or other fees to avoid lapsing. Use your IP inventory as a basis to ensure that your IP does not mistakenly lapse prematurely. Include a procedure to pay any required fees on time.
Maintaining a trademark registration
Your trademark may be at risk of being lost or abandoned if your product or service is not in use as registered. Similarly, if your product or service has deviated from the registered mark, the mark may also be at risk of being lost or abandoned.
Identify risks to your IP
Establish a routine to monitor for infringement of your IP by doing the following:
- using search engines and online automatic alerts based on keywords
- keeping an eye on the activities of those citing your IP
- being familiar with your competitors' IP rights
Some IP professionals offer IP monitoring as a service.