Intellectual property (IP) is the heartbeat of business, covering practically every facet of a firm’s activities. From the products that a firm produces to its overall business identity, IP is critical in the day to day operations of a company. From copyrights and trade secrets to patents and trademarks, IP forms an undeniably integral part of a business’ bottom line.

Although IP drives companies and their earnings forward, irrespective of their business sector or industry, it has not always been considered a company’s most valuable asset. Thankfully, attitudes in the boardroom are beginning to change and companies are much more protective of their IP rights. Indeed, we need only look to the protracted and expensive patent litigation disputes that have emerged between smartphone manufacturers for evidence of the increased profile of IP and the inevitable disputes that can arise around it.

Economic growth has been subdued since the financial crisis, and in this environment jealously-guarded IP has become a vitally important component of many business’ wider operations. Firms are beginning to develop stringent IP protections, and are being forced to rely upon those protections more and more. Dramatic rises in the number of instances of cyber crime, patent trolls and wider IP disputes have all had a significant impact on corporate attitudes toward the protection of IP in recent years.

Jul-Sep 2014 issue

Richard Summerfield