Intellectual Property (IP) can be the most important asset to your corporation. Just ask Kodak, whose management sat on its intellectual property for years. They never knew what it was worth!
The question now becomes how you protect your IP. First, you need to determine whether it will be worth something, to some investor down the road. The considerable dollars spent on trademark protection may worth every penny.
Then again, it may not be worth a cent!
Intellectual Property, the CFO view
In an article by Sean D. Deweiler in CFO Magazine titled Why You Should Spend Dollars on Patent, Trademark Protection he outline some of the pro’s and con’s of patent and trademark protection.
“You could be leaving money on the table or cutting off future options for protecting market share or growing revenue. If you haven’t yet taken what’s become a standard approach to protecting your company’s ideas, it may already be too late.” Writes Detweiler.
In Kodak’s case, they are actively licensing both their inventions and brand. The Kodak of the 1960’s is gone. But their inventions live on and an income stream continues.
A name or visual brand can mean the difference between a company that does well and a super-star. Iconic brand names can be worth a small fortune in the years to come. Deweiler highlights this fact “Be aware that a history of not policing your trademarks may mean you have less ability to do so in the future. Many foreign countries have a first-to-file trademark system in which the first applicant for a trademark in association with particular goods or services is entitled to registration.”
CFO’s should read this publication by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, The Bright Side of Patents.
Costs can go from as little as $2,500 to $7,500 for Trademarks and more for patents. The process, depending on whether you are obtaining just a US Patent or Trademark of seeking protection in foreign markets.
It pays to think about patents, trademarks, and service marks before you develop intellectual property. Obtaining a patent or trademark requires uniqueness. For a trademark or service mark you need to be the first users in commerce.
As a CFO, be forward thinking, it can be a sustainable royalty one day.