For corporate IP counsel who are looking to undertake an audit of their company’s intellectual property portfolio, there are important considerations to ensure the process is as effective as possible.
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Before you work out how to undertake a verification and auditing project, it’s worth asking why you would want to. Many companies, and especially those which have undertaken acquisitions or been through mergers, may not have total clarity on the various assets they hold in the business.
Further to that, those assets may well not all be accurately recorded, especially when it comes to ownership information. Finally, you may well own intellectual property assets that you don’t use and/or don’t need, but which you are still maintaining at a cost to your business. Any or all of these issues could be reasons to do an audit, and indeed, even without them, it’s probably still worth thinking about, simply because over time, the quality and accuracy of IP portfolios is likely to degrade due to personnel or process changes in your business.
Intellectual property services such as those provided by Brandstock, break the verification and auditing process down into three distinct stages.
The first stage of any audit procedure is to verify the current intellectual property assets held by the business. This process involves a few different things – first, assessing the quantity and type of data held about the portfolio. This will involve your company providing the records it holds, and those being integrated into Brandstock’s unique online platform.
After that, the accuracy of the data is verified using public records and Brandstock’s own analysis. In many cases, inaccuracies will be identified at this stage, resulting in corrections to the data to ensure it’s completely accurate.
As part of the intellectual property services provided, this process is managed by your external partner in conjunction with your team. It can take up to 12 months to complete the verification stage, but that is time well spent, since it lays the foundations for what follows and identifies critical issues early.
Once you are satisfied that the data you hold is accurate, the review process can begin. With trademarks, that entails your intellectual property services provider clarifying and evaluating your filing strategy in partnership with you.
Brandstock would undertake an analysis of the present scope of protection in order to identify any weak spots, such as marks that are not protected in all required jurisdictions, for example. This is used to help filing strategy going forward.
At this stage, you should also consider a competitor analysis, which your intellectual property services provider should be able to undertake on your behalf, in order to identify potential threats to your portfolio and to assess the wider marketplace.
Once the verification and review processes are complete, you can move on to the key driver of the project: strategy. There’s some value in verifying and reviewing your assets as a standalone project, but coupling it with a forward-looking prosecution and protection strategy for the future is where the real benefits accrue.
Brandstock would work with you to establish the most effective strategies, considering the commercial needs of your business and combining them with targeted actions to counter specific vulnerabilities. It can also help you to action the strategy you decide on, prioritizing and implementing key point quickly while keeping you updated on the outcomes throughout.
How it works
Undertaking a verification and auditing project is something that will benefit nearly all companies with significant IP portfolios. The three mantras of ‘check and clean,’ ‘evaluate and clarify’ and ‘strategy and implementation’ provide useful touchstones for any such process. Once you’ve made the decision that you need to get started with this process, what should you look for in an external intellectual property services provider?
When it comes to verification and auditing, you need a partner with extensive experience of conducting such assignments. More specifically than that, you need someone who knows the industry you work in very well, not least because the previous experience of your industry can inform their work on your assets and strategy, especially regarding the wider competitive landscape.