All-important IP Audits


By: John McKeown & Ruth Corbin It is now well established that the most valuable assets of a 21st century business consist of its intellectual property, including its trade marks, copyrights, patents or confidential information. An IP audit helps in identifying, protecting and managing these assets.

In broad terms, an IP audit is conducted to identify the company's IP assets and ensure that the assets are being appropriately protected, managed and valued. An audit is a useful management tool at any time, but may be prompted by a significant financing, the recognition that IP assets are not sufficiently protected, or a recognized management need to develop strategies that will maintain and improve the company's market position.

In order to carry out an IP Audit, a systematic review is conducted of the IP assets owned, licensed or used by a business. In many cases it will be found that some of those assets are not protected appropriately and are also under-utilized. An assessment may also reveal whether a business's current activities infringe the rights of third parties.

In some cases businesses lack the necessary resources to undertake a complete and exhaustive audit. In such cases, the review can be more limited. But the need to do one cannot be safely ignored.

The IP Audit process can also determine the value of IP assets. Financial value provides a signal for how to manage various IP assets in the future. As it is said, if you don't measure it, you can't manage it.

Once the audit has been completed a strategy can be developed to ensure that IP assets are appropriately protected and utilized. For example, if the company's primary asset is confidential information and know-how, then essential steps should...

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