Intellectual Property Strategy: Just a matter of conserving energy?


Surely not all of the energy we, as founders of successful SMEs, have expended, and continue to expend, on starting and growing our business, can be lost in heat and noise?  The scientist in me thinks not; but where is that energy conserved within our businesses?  Read on to find out if your intellectual property strategy could be just a matter of conserving energy.

Intellectual Property Strategy: Just a matter of conserving energy

If you are a founder of a successful SME, you will, no doubt, remember the physical and (mostly) emotional energy you put in to get it off the ground.  Once the business starts to generate revenue, we tend to use that as our benchmark in terms of monitoring the success of the business and, ultimately, its value. 

If you stand back and think about it though, this cannot be whole story: the laws of physics are not satisfied with that and the engineer in me looks for a more scientifically accurate viewpoint.

Are you just an Investor or are you a Founder?

If we just put money into something viable, whether an ISA, a pension scheme or even a successful business, we expect to get more money out without expending too much physical or emotional energy.  That’s what savvy investors do.  When we started out business, we undoubtedly put money into a viable commercial proposition, and now we’re getting (hopefully more) money out of it.  But we’ve just established that we don’t need to expend much, if any, energy to do that.  So we are more than just investors then. In fact, as business founders, we have ploughed (and continue to plough) more energy than money into making our businesses a success. So where did/does all that energy go?

Joule’s first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed but it can be changed from one form to another: “when we observe an energy transformation, all amounts of energy must be accounted for”. James Prescott Joule, 1845

That means our long hours, sleepless nights, head scratching, weeping, wailing, hand wringing, etc [insert your own energy expending activities here 😊] must have been transformed into a different type of energy.

Turn your Kinetic Energy into Potential Energy in the form of Intellectual Property

Energy is defined as something that has the capacity to “do work”, so if we think of our own expended energy as kinetic energy (derived from something in motion, usually ourselves!), I like to think that it was conserved and transformed into potential energy (derived from things that have the ability to do work when the right leverage is applied).  And, in many cases, this potential energy will be rooted in the intellectual property within your business.

Turning your kinetic energy into intellectual property

Sometimes this intellectual property is easy to spot: registered rights like trade marks and patents, and visible unregistered rights like copyright.  But I have lost count of the number of business owners that tell me “We don’t have any intellectual property, it’s not that type of business…”

Really?  What is your USP?  Why do customers come to you and not your competitors?  Why is your business successful?  It is likely that the answers to these questions will identify things like know-how, trade secrets, goodwill and reputation, not to mention your CR, customer database and/or prospect/contact database, which may attract database rights.  These, and many others, are hidden but valuable intellectual property rights that can be made to work hard as you grow your business, but only if you know they are there and how to carefully preserve and leverage them.

So, my question today is: aside from a little heat and noise (inevitably), what has all the energy you put into your business been transformed into?  Because that is what will work behind the scenes to help to make a success of your business and, if you know it’s there, you can preserve it so that its value will grow and it will continue to work hard as your business grows, even after the sleepless nights and hand wringing are a thing of the past!

If you have any questions about your intellectual property, please book a free initial consultation by emailing or via our website at

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