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An intellectual property (IP) portfolio catalogues your business’ IP material and rights.  When you establish an IP portfolio, you will develop a clear idea of your IP. As a result, you are less likely to lose sight of your rights and are in a better position to defend them if you need to. There are two main types of IP portfolios. They are portfolios for:

  • all of the IP in your business; or
  • the IP of one product.

For some guidance, this article will detail four things to include in your IP portfolio.

1. Valid IP Assets and the Rights They Give You

Your IP portfolio will contain a collection of your IP rights. It should detail all of the IP your business owns, including any applications you have submitted. 

An IP portfolio will help greatly if you are looking to sell or licence your IP and you need to disclose details to another party.

If you create an IP portfolio that applies across your business, it should include the IP you have created for your brand, like:

  • trade marks (registered and unregistered);
  • copyright;
  • designs;
  • patents.

Your IP portfolio should detail the scope of these rights and your options if someone infringes upon them. Notably, rights can vary depending on ownership, licencing or expiration of rights. Therefore, detailing these rights will allow you to identify gaps in your IP protection. Additionally, you may wish to secure further rights to fill these gaps. An IP audit can help you with this process.

Otherwise, you may wish to create an IP portfolio that only details the relevant IP assets for a singular item. You may do this because the item is very popular and has a large amount of IP or because you want to sell just that one item to another party.

If you have a clear set of boundaries about your brand or products, other businesses are less likely to breach your IP rights. It also presents a strong front that you are a business that is willing to protect its IP. 

2. Pending IP Applications

Furthermore, your portfolio should also identify any pending applications for registration regarding IP assets. For IP such as trade marks or designs, you need to apply to the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ) to register your rights in these assets. Keeping track of pending registrations is important so that you do not miss any deadlines or compliance reports. 

3. Contracts and Agreements

When assembling your IP portfolio, you should also look to any contracts or agreements you may have that could grant you IP rights. These can include:

  • licence agreements;
  • service contracts;
  • assignment agreements;
  • employment agreements; or
  • other kinds of contracts.

In particular, licence agreements are a kind of contract that grants you the right to use another person’s IP, subject to terms and conditions you both agree on. Alternatively, you may grant licences to other parties to use your IP.

It is crucial that you keep track of these agreements that impact your IP, as these agreements affect your IP rights and the protections you enjoy. 

4. Past IP Conflicts

Having an IP portfolio gives you quick and easy access at times when you need it most. This could be when someone is infringing on your rights, and you need to communicate your IP rights with them as quickly as possible. Solid evidence of IP rights and ownership will help in any IP dispute, so a portfolio will aid you in this regard.

Therefore, you should also keep records of past IP conflicts in your IP portfolio as well. They may include records of past rulings you can rely on in future disputes. Additionally, they detail what was and was not successful in those past conflicts, which will help you prepare for any future ones.

For example, suppose IP Australia, in a past dispute, verified the similarity between your trade mark and an infringing trade mark. In that case, this may be useful for establishing similarity in other marks in the future.

Key Takeaways

If you have a little or a lot of IP, it is a good idea to think about creating an IP portfolio. Whether your portfolio is about your business as a whole or just one aspect of your IP, it will give you a clearer picture of your rights and put you in a good position if you need to express your IP or rights at any time. You can conduct an IP audit to assist you in creating your IP portfolio, which should include every feature of your IP. If you need assistance with your IP portfolio, LegalVision’s IP lawyers can assist as part of our LegalVision membership. For a low monthly fee, you will have unlimited access to lawyers to answer your questions and draft and review your documents. Call us today on 0800 005 570 or visit our membership page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I complete an intellectual property audit myself?

Yes, you can complete an intellectual property audit for your own business. You know your own business best, so it may make an audit easier. Some services will offer to audit your intellectual property for you, if you prefer.

Are intellectual property portfolios to be made public?

Intellectual property portfolios are only public if you wish. Remember that some intellectual property rights make your intellectual property public regardless, as they are accessible on public registries.

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

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