It is important for every business to document and value its intellectual property. An IP Audit is a systematic review to identify what IP assets are owned, used or acquired by a business and just how important those are to the company.
Important reasons for any company, particularly an SME, to conduct an intellectual property (IP) Audit:
to identify all the IP owned by your business;
to establish whether or not your IP rights are remain registered and enforceable;
to identify whether you really own the rights and, if you do not, identify any conditions that apply to their use;
to determine whether your IP are being effectively and appropriately used;
to establish whether your rights are being challenged or threatened by others;
to establish whether you have an effective IP management and maintenance plan in place; and
to establish records of your IP creation and ownership.
Reviewed assets will include:
1. Those created by the company itself, such as:
any trademarks and service marks used in conjunction with the company’s business whether registered or not;
any licenses to third parties, including cross-licenses;
in-house work manuals;
product/process know-how; and
trade secrets e.g. recipes, customer list that should be kept confidential, secret formulas, non-disclosure agreements, business list and pricing information, and data subject to privacy or security agreements, whether by contract or by legal requirement.
2. Those acquired without an express license, such as:
use of competitor’s trademarks in advertising, incidental photocopying, e-mail, employee data, client data (both data about the company’s clients and data held on behalf of the clients).
3. Those used by the company under a contract or license from another party, including:
software licenses necessary for operation of PCs,
business applications such as finance application, human resource application and manufacturing application
industry specific applications such as telecommunications and publishing