Building from the base up, or is that down?
Two of the key IP questions for small companies are:
- How can I base my business strategy on IP when I know that there is always a risk that I will be sued or that someone will steal my idea without me being able to retaliate?
- Is it not better to keep everything as a trade secret?
Granted, keeping everything a secret can work for a period of time. However, despite NDA’s, trade secrets are sooner or later going to get out. In such an instance any action taken to uphold your company’s right is extremely difficult and will most likely lead to a costly court trial. What is worse, once a secret is out it cannot be taken back, therefore leaving your company in a potentially vulnerable position.
The solution? Plan accordingly and develop an array of protection surrounding your business. I am not talking only about IP protection but also about developing the extremely valuable baseline of intellectual assets including: relational capital and organizational capital, human capital.
- Relational capital refers to nurturing relationships that define your company’s personality in its interactions with different stakeholders. These relationships create external expectations including the crucial expectation regarding the quality of work and the existence of your company on the market on short and long term. Relational capital can be built through networks, brands, suppliers and customer/stakeholders.
- Human capital encompasses the entire employee base and can obviously be built by capturing and retaining unique individuals. It can however be exploited only through motivation, engagement and empowerment.
- Organizational capital refers to formal processes and formal structures are that help your company it its everyday activity (e.g. intellectual property, internal policies, contractual agreements, other).
When setting the strategy for your company it is not solely a matter of choosing the correct IP but leveraging and protecting all your intellectual assets to form a cohesive array of protection/structural control.
[Photo credit Building blocks ]