Intellectual property rights are tools that are applied in business. They can be expensive, and acquiring them will require time and resources. If you are acquiring more than the odd intellectual property right, it is important to consider how you will administer them and manage their use.

The strategic use of intellectual property rights requires an understanding of intellectual property law and its application in the product or service life cycle. To take a simple example, patents and designs require filing at inception of a new product or the rights are lost; at the same time there are dangers in delaying the filing of a trademark even though such applications need not be made prior to using the trademark.

The correct time to check for potential difficulties, and to maximise your intellectual property protection, is at the commencement of an innovation exercise. This applies irrespective of whether the innovation is of a technical nature, or a new franchise operation that is to be launched.

Your intellectual assets, as with any other assets, should have their performance tracked against cost, and an assessment made. Intellectual property rights should therefore be recorded against a product or service, and not filed as a separate entity according to some unconnected file reference.

You cannot, of course, assess an intellectual property right unless you know what strategic purpose it was put to in the first place, or to what product or service it applies. Similarly, intellectual property rights should be reviewed annually, at the same time as the business that the intellectual property rights support, is reviewed. If this is done, you can get a sensible decision on whether to renew or lapse an intellectual property right, or acquire new intellectual property rights in conjunction with fresh business innovation.

All processes within AFRICA GLOBAL IP MATTERS (AGIM) SARL relating to the filing and prosecution of intellectual property rights are handled with care by our firm.

Proper use of intellectual property rights can provide and maintain a competitive edge for a company which understands these rights and can manage them. We urge you to contact us for advice in this regard.