Intellectual property risk management is proactive, not reactive. In order to mitigate the risk that comes with intangible assets, your organization must first identify the IP-related risks you face. Risk comes from a multitude of sources—both internal and external—depending on how your organization protects its IP and operates its business.
4 Places to Look for Risk
1. People You Do Business With
Unfortunately, your employees and partners pose an inherent risk to your organization’s intellectual property. When you do business with an individual, university, supplier, or contractor, you share information about your intangible assets. These entities can share these details in ways that affect your business, even without malicious intent.
2. Entities With Patents Like Yours
Businesses with patents and products like yours, whether they’re a competitor or non-practicing entity (NPE), pose a litigation risk. Intellectual property rights are not black and white. The grey areas of freedom to operate, validity, and patentability will always carry risk, as well the costs associated with defending your business against infringement claims and protecting your IP from infringement. Due diligence can identify some of these risks, giving you opportunities to mitigate them.
3. Legal and Illegal Third Parties
Other third-party entities pose a risk to your intellectual property as well. Some of these risks, such as federal regulations, are concrete and can be incorporated into an IP strategy. Others, including hackers, may pose a risk at a time when you least expect it. All types of third-party threats must be considered.
4. Changing Technology Landscapes
If your patent is found to be invalid or infringing, your business risks lost revenue and ROI, as well as potentially costly damages. While identifying these risks in due diligence prior to filing is important, changing technologies and fast-moving industries also play a role. In these industries, there is also the risk of declining revenue from a specific patent or collection of patents as companies innovate, preferences shift, and technology changes.