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How can you make your Intellectual Property (IP) work for you?

May 15 2017

Intellectual Property (IP), an intricate component of any life-science based business strategy. How can you make it work for you? At ttopstart, our expertise can assist you in designing the most suitable business strategy for your SME, highlighting your assets and your IP strategy in the context of fundraising or identifying the gaps that weaken your proposition. 

Introduction to IP

IP is a broad term covering all creative endeavours, from literary and artistic works to scientific innovation. It can be divided in two categories:

  1. Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works.
  2. Industrial property, covering inventions (patents), trademarks and industrial designs.

In life science, whether you're a small or medium enterprise (SME), IP in the form of patents can be your most important asset or your Achilles’ heel. The difference is made by the way you design your IP strategy. This becomes particularly relevant when seeking funding (e.g. from European funding schemes such as Eurostars, SME Instruments or from venture capital).

Aim of an IP strategy

An IP strategy enables you to understand, manage and capitalize on the IP in your organization. It can also help you win more market share, secure higher prices or ensure lower costs than your competitors. A clear strategy also answers the day-to-day questions most organisations face around what to do about IP. A strong IP strategy ensures that your commercial targets are prioritized. It also provides the framework to work within when you are deciding on what IP rights to secure and where to spend your limited resources.

Essential steps towards a good IP strategy

1. Ensuring you are not infringing on another party’s IP.

This is done through a Freedom-To-Operate (FTO) analysis, by licensed patent attorneys. It must be done several times, in order to detect barriers in development or shortly before marketing the product. The FTO results are closely linked to the business strategy, as competing IP can then be circumvented or in-licensed.

2. Adopting an IP strategy that matches your company’s stage.

The IP strategy is closely connected to the invention, and to the budget that is available to ensure its protection. The table below presents an overview of several IP strategy models that can be used for any given invention and highlights the most important aspects of each. Importantly, a patent portfolio can represent a mix of the strategies presented below (click the table to enlarge).

IP strategy models for life sciences companies

3. Adapting your IP strategy in line with your company’s growth.

As your company grows, your IP strategy should evolve as well. Getting a product (close) to market means you will become a point of interest to your competitors who will surely have mitigation and contingency plans to address your success. A strong and complex IP strategy can not only prevent your competitors from taking business away from you. It can also support you in raising funding, as investors value the IP strategy almost as highly as they value the team implementing it.

Request assistance

ttopstart has extensive expertise in positioning IP in the context of a European subsidy application or a business plan. Contact us for more information!

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