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Back in February, we wrote a blog highlighting the potential hidden value in various types of intellectual property (IP). Now, we’re going to take a look at the different ways in which you can unlock this hidden value.
Direct use: perhaps an obvious place to start, but ensure that you are effectively exploiting your products to maintain competitiveness of your brand.
You will most likely be making or producing copies of your products and selling them, but also consider whether there are other innovative ways in which you could use your logo on different types of products.
By exploiting your IP rights yourself, you build value, maintain quality and control use. The cost of exploiting your rights directly can be high, but can be considered as an investment in the brand.
Selling and Licensing: an alternative to exploiting your IP yourself is selling or licensing your IP to another business.
You can sell your IP by way of an assignment. This simply means that you transfer your rights to a third party. You will most likely be able to negotiate a sum of money for the assignment; however, bear in mind that the future earning potential will transfer to the buyer.
You can grant a third party the right to use your IP by way of a licence. You can set certain limitations within the terms of the licence, for example by granting the licence for use in a certain territory or limit it to a period of time. A benefit of this approach is that your brand may be able to reach markets that it may not otherwise have reached, and there may be lucrative on-going fees payable. It may also be a strategic way in which to turn a competitor into a partner. However, choose your ‘partner’ carefully; a licensee who does not appropriately manage the IP, could potentially harm the brand. To mitigate this, you should ensure that the licence has terms which protect the IP.
Franchising: franchising is a model through which the owner of a business (the franchisor) can grow the business by granting others (franchisees) the right to set up a franchise, usually limited to a certain territory, with the support of the franchisor and the benefit of its brand and experience. For the franchisor, this can be a lucrative way to geographically expand the business without the capital cost. However, whilst most franchise agreements include restrictions to protect the business and the brand, you are again relying on the franchisee to not damage your brand image.
Merchandising: merchandising is a type of licensing that allows the commercial exploitation of an aspect of the brand - for example, the name, a symbol or a distinctive sign. Similar to licensing and franchising, merchandising allows the brand owner to expand its business with little financial risk.
Enforcement action: however much you develop and exploit your IP to build value in your brand, this value will be lost if you do not take steps to enforce your rights against infringers (from unconnected third parties trying to take advantage of your IP to licensees / franchisees in breach of contract) to protect your IP. Also bear in mind that if you do not exploit your IP, you may lose certain rights…and third parties may step in and benefit!
How we can help
At Myerson, we have a team of specialist IP Solicitors who can assist with all aspects of IP portfolio management and advise on contentious and non-contentious matters.
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