Expert busts IP myths

So says Paul Adams, CEO and founder of Everedge IP, who was speaking at the Go Global conference in Auckland last week.

Adams says his company advises hundreds of companies in New Zealand on IP issues and finds they cling to couple of unhelpful myths. One is that IP equals patents, when the reality is that IP encompasses wide range of other options including trade secrets and confidential information and that is often where the most value lies.

“We find that most of the value around IP lies in … processes, systems, databases, customer lists and maybe software code,” he says.

Adams says another myth is that patents must be valuable “which is an extension of the logic that they’re very difficult and costly to get, so they must be valuable and useful”. 

That’s not entirely true, he says. “It’s surprisingly easy to be granted patent. You can patent just about anything. But it is lot more challenging to get commercially useful patent.”

A narrow or irrelevant patent is useless, says Adams. “So the question to ask is not ‘can I get patent’, but should I?”

Among other considerations, Adams suggests companies ask what the impact of patent publication will be, “Because in applying for patent you end up publishing details of your idea out into the world.”

He also suggests companies look at the efficacy of alternatives to their idea. “There’s no point having patent over something that can be achieved just as easily in half dozen other ways.”

Adams also recommends companies determine the actual degree of protection that they will enjoy under any given patent, and whether or not it will be possible to detect infringement by other people. 

He says patents can be extremely valuable but they’re simply business tool.

“A reliance on single type of protection for your IP is very risky and tends to result in suboptimal commercialisation… We’ve found it’s quite easy to become distracted by the sexy end of IP – patents and trademarks which feel like you’re getting something more tangible than other forms of IP – without realising the value of often critical but mundane things that are right under your nose.

“I would urge anyone to be cautious of any provider who has focus on narrow class of IP rights, or who doesn’t give attention to some of the non-patent and non-trademark rights, because these areas are often-times where the real value lies.”

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