Is IP really ‘expensive’?

Consider IP in terms of value as well as cost

Is IP really ‘expensive’?

The dictionary definition of ‘expensive’ is “commanding a high price and especially one that is not based on intrinsic worth (, and we do tend to think of things as ‘expensive’ if we deem the cost to be more than the perceived value we receive in return. So, is IP really ‘expensive’? Or is it just that the true value of it is unknown and therefore had to quanitfy?

One of the biggest mistakes an innovative business can make is to overlook their intellectual property rights. Why? Because only your IP rights can help to stop a competitor from copying your unique selling point(s) and muscle in on your market share. Why do customers come to you and not your competitors? What is it that sets your business apart from everyone else? I always say, where there’s a USP, there is (almost) always IP, but it can only add value to your business and protect your interests if you know it’s there and how to make sure it’s enforceable should you ever need it.

Nevertheless, business owners are often put off by the perceived expense of securing and maintaining a robust IP portfolio.

Cost/Benefit Analysis

If we think of this issue purely in terms of figures, what do you think would be your loss of revenue if your biggest competitors could simply copy your USP(s) and offer the same goods/services (perhaps at a lower price because they would not have had the same overheads in developing the ideas)? The answer is, in effect, at least part of the value of any IP rights that will allow you to stop them from doing that.

Having arrived at some nominal figure for this value, you can assess the cost of securing those IP rights against that value. If the former is less than the latter, then surely it’s the opposite of ‘expensive’? A bargain, even?!

And that’s without considering the hidden value of IP rights – value you may never even realise you have received.

Hidden value

A robust IP portfolio can add untold value to a business. And IP rights represent tangible assets that are often imperative when looking for funding, either by borrowing or investment. Not only that, but it sends a clear message to your competitors that you value your IP and will enforce it if you need to.

Don’t forget the deterrent power of IP

It is difficult to prove a negative, so you may never know whether or not a would-be competitor was put off copying your innovation because you had registered IP in place. In general, a legitimate business will not knowingly risk lengthy and costly legal proceedings for IP infringement. So if you have registered IP, and show a commitment to enforcing it, then it will likely act as a powerful deterrent to others who might otherwise try and muscle in on your market share.

So, is IP really ‘expensive’? Or is it just that the cost of IP seems high because the value is hidden?

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The UKIPO provide some great tools to help businesses with their IP. You can find out more here Welcome to IPO’s online training tools. These have been designed to help you: | Intellectual Property Office

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