Designing a solid IP policy now will set your business up for future success

Every business creates and uses intellectual property (IP), but not every business utilizes their IP effectively. Successful businesses know how to handle their IP to maximize the value it provides. They do this by integrating IP strategy into their business using an IP policy and their business plan.

Putting together an easy-to-follow and beneficial IP policy is easier than you may think, especially with the help of IP strategists. They can also help you craft the IP section of your business plan to be clear and concise, and to impress investors. If you want to take control of your IP and set yourself up for future success, why not get in touch with Onsagers for an initial consultation?

Where is there IP in my business?

There is IP everywhere, and you and your colleagues or employees are creating and using it constantly. IP broadly refers to the creations of the human mind. This means that almost everything in your business that is not a physical item could be IP. When you consider how much thinking and brainstorming goes on in your business, the amount of IP being generated every day is huge and deserves to be managed in the right way. You may also be using IP owned by other people or businesses, and you need to be careful about how you use that so as not to breach contracts or infringe legal rights.

Examples of IP that you might find in your business are:

Some IP can be legally protected by IP rights (IPR). Typically, patents protect the business technical solutions, trademarks and design protects the business visual identity, copyright protects the business literary or artistic works such as manuals and software, and trade secrets protect confidential information.

There can also be significant overlap. Some inventions can be kept secret allowing them to be protected as trade secrets as an alternative to the use of patents. Also, some creative works encompass more than one form of IP. Software source code itself is protected by copyright, whilst its functions might give rise to a patentable invention. A physical product often has aesthetic appeal protectable via design rights as well as functional improvements protectable via patent rights.

Once you have an IP policy in place, it should be easy to decide how to protect and use your IP, and then it is just a matter of asking your legal advisers at Onsagers for their guidance on the correct process.

What is an IP policy?

An IP policy may define some or all of the following points:

Defining these points well makes sure that everyone in the organization is on the same page and streamlines how efficiently you can deal with IP as it is created or used. Without an IP policy, you may lose some of the IP you create, meaning you may lose value from your business, or you may forget what IP you are able to use. Your IP policy can also improve how you communicate with your legal advisers, ultimately saving everyone time and costs.

IP policy is highly dependent on the business and the goals of that business, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach here.

The experts at Onsagers can advise on how best to go about putting together the policy. Additionally, your IP policy may change over time, and gaining external help from Onsagers can help you to keep your IP policy up-to-date taking account of shifting priorities of the business and outside factors such as regulatory and/or legal changes.

IP and business plans

It is also important that your business plan considers IP. Your IP policy can be integrated into your business plan or can complement it. Your business plan may have a separate IP section that summarises the relevant sections of the IP policy and sets your IP goals and timeframes.

For technology businesses, interlinking IP creation, particularly with innovation, patent protection, and trade secrets, with business goals is a great way to add value to the business. Patents and trade secrets allow for IP generation to be measured and for milestones to be identified and reached. Key decision points and thresholds for product development should sit alongside suitable processes for ensuring relevant IP is identified and assessed in accordance with the IP policy. It is particularly useful to be able to know that the progress you make in developing your technologies within the business can be backed up with the right protections.

Your business plan holds you accountable but also ensures that you are ticking the right boxes for your business development and future investment. Current and expected IP can be identified from an IP section of a business plan and gives confidence to you and your current/future investors that you have adequately protected investment in your technology.

By integrating IP into your business plan early, you also ensure that you are not putting off IP considerations or forgetting about them.

It can be all too common for businesses to think about IP but not to act on it. Having IP as part of a policy and your business plan means that you can get off to the right start and give your growth a solid foundation.

As with IP policy, the IP section of your business plan has to be specific to your business to ensure that the goals are achievable and affordable. At Onsagers, we are ready to help you write or rewrite your business plan with IP in mind.

It’s time to embrace IP

There are so many different things to think about as part of a start-up or as part of a well-established business. We understand that IP may not be at the forefront of your mind at all times, but it is a vitally important part of business. IP can be a great framework for ensuring and measuring development and growth. If you act now, the hard work will be done before you know it, and you will be more organized and ready for future challenges.

Onsagers brings together some of the best IP strategists from across Norway, the UK, Germany, and Sweden to better link IP to business. Now is the best time for you to welcome IP into your business, so what are you waiting for?


Adam Taylor

Adam is a Senior Partner of Onsagers and a highly experienced European Patent Attorney with an academic background in engineering.

Andreas Werner

Andreas is a patent attorney and has extensive experience in IP counseling and management as well as IP administration.

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