Ten tips to evergreen your IP position

Article  \  28 Jul 2023

A strong and robust intellectual property (IP) position for your product innovation requires a proactive and adaptive approach. All too often, we see IP owners grapple with expiring IP and panic to maintain their competitive position in markets.

There are many factors over time that can affect the contribution that your IP is making to the bottom line, so continuously innovating and monitoring changes to the market landscape can help to ensure your product stands the test of time. 

To evergreen your IP position as best as possible requires you to employ strategies that will ensure its longevity and continued relevance in the market.

What you can’t do is secure IP in your original idea and merely rest on your laurels in the hope that it will see you through the next few decades. Here are ten key tips you can take:

#1 Conduct a thorough IP search: Before investing time and resources into developing a new product, conduct a comprehensive search to ensure your idea or invention is not already patented or protected by someone else. This step will help you avoid potential legal conflicts and save you unnecessary expenses.

#2 File for IP protection: If your product innovation is unique and novel, consider filing for IP protection. Such may include patents, trade marks, or copyrights, depending on the nature of your invention. IP protection grants you exclusive rights to your innovation, preventing others from using, selling, or copying it without your permission.

#3 Continuously monitor the market: Stay up to date with the latest trends, consumer demands, and advancements in technology related to your product. This will help you identify emerging opportunities and areas for improvement where you might be able to secure new IP protection having a new but finite duration.

#4 Regularly update and improve your product: Continuous innovation is key to evergreening your IP. Enhance your product by incorporating new features, technologies, or design improvements. This ensures your IP remains current and adapts to changing market conditions.

#5 Build a strong brand: Develop a strong brand identity around your products. Focus on creating a unique value proposition, establishing a recognizable brand name, and maintaining consistent branding across various marketing channels. Strong branding differentiates you from your competitors, helps build brand loyalty and can help sustain the demand for your product and reinforce the longevity of your IP. Trade mark protection can last forever and for trusted brands, its value increases over time. Whilst patents in the product are on a natural path to expiry, invest in brand protection. 

#6 Establish strategic partnerships: Collaborating with other companies or experts in related fields can bring new perspectives and resources to your product innovation. Tapping into the strengths of specialists and established experts can help extend the reach of your IP and enhance its credibility and market exposure.

#7 Leverage licensing and franchising opportunities: Licensing or franchising your IP can be an effective way to generate additional revenue streams while expanding the presence of your product in different markets. Carefully select licensees or franchisees who align with your brand values and have the resources to effectively test, promote and maintain the quality and effectiveness of your product.

#8 Stay aware of legal and regulatory changes: Laws and regulations surrounding IP evolve over time. Stay informed about any changes that may impact your product innovation or IP protection. This includes monitoring patent infringement cases, trade marks, and copyright laws. Consulting with legal professionals specializing in IP can help you navigate these complexities and help you reduce risk.

#9 Protect your trade secrets: Not all aspects of your IP can be patented or copyrighted. Some valuable information may be considered trade secrets. Implement robust security measures to safeguard trade secrets, such as restricted access to sensitive information, non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), and confidentiality agreements with employees, contractors, and partners. Trade secret protection can las forever.

#10 Maintain a live and proactive IP management strategy: Develop a long-term IP management strategy that involves regular review and evaluation of your IP portfolio. This ensures that you are aware of any potential threats or opportunities and can make informed decisions to protect and evergreen your IP.

Remember, IP evergreening requires a proactive and adaptive approach to be effective.

By continuously innovating, protecting your IP, and staying attuned to market trends, you can increase the longevity and value of your product innovations.

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