Build an intellectual property strategy: Create your IP plan

4. Create your IP plan

Your intellectual property (IP) plan will reflect how you intend to use your IP. Will you use IP to block your competitors or protect your core business, or will you license the rights to others?

How you use your IP often depends on the type of IP strategy you have decided to rely on. Although the following types of strategies are examples, your strategy may be a hybrid of these in practice.

Sample goals and actions depending on how you plan to use your IP

Offensive IP strategy

Goal

Achieving market ownership; preventing competitor growth or sustaining a market leadership position

Actions

  • Create a market leader position by amassing IP rights in a specific sector
  • Deter competitors from encroaching by enforcing your IP rights against them

Examples

  • File patents to develop a strong IP position or prevent competitor growth
  • Monitor and enforce your IP rights
  • Regularly search for IP available for acquisition
  • Actively search for anyone infringing on existing rights
  • Communicate and show a large IP portfolio
  • Take action against infringers

Defensive IP strategy

Goal

Reducing the risk of litigation or of an infringement lawsuit

Actions

  • Create a defensive position against competitors to reduce instances of IP infringement and the risk of litigation from external threats

Examples

  • Get "freedom to operate" opinions
  • File patents based on your specific product or service to use as prior art against competitors' future filings
  • Develop a document management program for limiting access to your confidential information

Licensing

Goal

Licensing revenue by monetizing your IP assets and generating income sources by letting someone else make, sell or use your IP

Actions

  • Create, acquire or manage IP assets to generate revenue through franchising, commercialization or licensing opportunities
  • Develop an IP landscape to determine the value proposition of your own IP and who might be interested

Examples

  • Identify key IP in the value chain and secure IP rights in key markets
  • Seek out potential licensees based on findings

Financing

Goal

Fundraising or selling assets; using IP rights to secure financing or leveraging your IP rights to increase your valuation

Actions

  • Generate reliable assets such as trademarks, patents and industrial designs to capture the underlying value of your business
  • Acquire IP rights to increase financial benefits for your company in anticipation of a future business objective, such as an investor event, a merger and acquisition action or an initial public offering

Examples

  • Conduct an internal IP audit to determine what IP assets may be formally registerable
  • File formal patent applications on your technology before an investment event and announce these applications after filing