A significant competitive edge through intellectual property rights
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) are an excellent support structure for the brand work of a company or community and facilitate a significant competitive advantage. Protecting and managing IPR creates a foundation for profitable business and serves as a crucial risk management tool.
Because intellectual property makes up an increasingly large and important part of companies’ assets, and design is a key factor adding business value, success requires an understanding of how to protect and utilise rights.
- “New companies, in particular, benefit from IPR as they are an excellent way to pique the interest of investors, such as private equity investment firms. Intellectual property rights also offer ways to protect your rights in a highly-competitive market,” says Director of Patents and Trademarks Jorma Hanski from the Finnish Patent and Registration Office (PRH).
IPR set you apart
Successful players are monitored closely in all fields and any information gained is utilised in product development. Good unprotected innovations, products and brands will quickly be swallowed up by the competition and there isn’t much you can do about it.
Creating strong IPR requires you to stop and think about your company’s strengths and the market you are operating in. As you are learning about the different protection options, you learn how not to inadvertently infringe on other parties’ rights.
- “You must research and identify which parts of your immaterial assets need protection and where. Everything may hinge on a minute detail. You should protect it before you launch and market new innovations and products,” Hanski stresses.
You must research and identify which parts of your immaterial assets need protection and where. Everything may hinge on a minute detail.
You should foster and manage your IPR portfolio
Intellectual property rights are either copyrights or industrial property rights. They include trademarks and design copyrights that are especially valuable in terms of marketing and brand building as well as patents and utility models central to product development and research.
Design copyright is the primary means of protection for the appearance of your product, and it will grant you exclusive rights to utilise the design. The best possible from of protection is a combination of means of protection or a combination of protecting different parts of the products using the same means, e.g. design copyright. A trademark can also be utilised to protect the appearance of the product if certain prerequisites are met.
- “Usually, the first step is acquiring a trademark for the name, product or service. This serves as an excellent support for branding. Patents and utility models are best suited to technical innovations. As soon as the protection work is under way, it is the responsibility of the company to monitor that its rights are not infringed upon and actively intervene in any infringement,” Jorma Hanski says.
In all matters IPR, you should learn more about the patent and trademark databases and ask experts for help. You may also outsource the active monitoring of IPR to them. In Finland, companies can turn to PRH, which also offers information and research services, patent, trademark and design copyright agents and the rest of the support network. A properly and carefully managed IPR portfolio prevents costly disputes and litigation.
Rights can also be traded
Companies may use their intellectual property rights to keep one step ahead of the competition. In the long term, IPR are also a worthwhile investment facilitating various earning models and partnerships. You can also trade rights and license them.
Several studies show that, regardless of their size, companies that invest in IPR grow their operations and number of staff quicker than other companies. A well-managed IPR portfolio is also an asset in attracting outside funding and planning acquisitions and other mergers in terms of the company’s negotiation power.
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The Finnish Patent and Registration Office is one of the main partners of Fennia Prize 20, a design competition for companies and organizations. It awards the IPR Excellence award.
Photos: The IPR Excellence prizes were given to Woodio Oy for the patents and trademark rights of its wood composite washbasins (photo: Martti Järvi) and Konecranes Global Oy for the patents and model rights of the C- and S-Series overhead cranes.