IP Audit

In the world of business, intellectual property (IP) is a valuable asset.

Regular IP audits can not only identify these assets but also maximize their potential while ensuring they’re protected.

What is an IP Audit?

An IP audit is a systematic review of the intellectual properties owned, used, created, or acquired by a business.

It evaluates the value, risks, opportunities, and best practices to manage these assets.

Why Conduct an IP Audit?

  • Asset Identification: Determine all IP assets under your control.
  • Asset Ownership: Ensure all newly acquired and created IP is protected with the relevant filings.
  • Risk Management: Identify potential IP-related risks or infringements.
  • Enhance Value: Spot underutilized IP assets that can be monetized or leveraged.
  • M&A Preparedness: Essential if you’re considering selling, merging, or acquiring another business.
  • Ensure Compliance: Maintain up-to-date records and adhere to IP regulatory requirements.

What Type of IP Is Evaluated During an IP Audit?

  • Patents:
    • Issued patents
    • Pending patent applications
    • Lapsed or expired patents
    • Foreign patent rights
    • Patent licenses (both inbound and outbound)
  • Trademarks:
    • Registered trademarks (national and international)
    • Unregistered trademarks
    • Trade dress
    • Domain names associated with the brand
    • Trademark applications
    • Licensing agreements related to trademarks
  • Copyrights:
    • Registered copyrights
    • Unregistered copyrights (which may include software code, literary works, music, artwork, photographs, website content, and more)
    • Licensing agreements related to copyrighted works
  • Trade Secrets:
    • Processes, formulas, methods, and any business information that provides a competitive edge and is kept confidential
    • Security measures related to those secrets
    • Non-disclosure agreements and employee confidentiality agreements
  • Know-How:
    • Unpatented technical knowledge, techniques, procedures, or other business information valuable to the company.
  • Design Rights:
    • Registered designs/design patents
    • Unregistered design rights
  • Domain Names:
    • Domains owned by the company
    • Domains related to the brand but owned by third parties (to check for potential infringement or purchase opportunities)
  • Licensing Agreements:
    • Agreements where the company is the licensor or licensee
    • Evaluation of the terms, coverage, and compliance of these agreements
  • Moral Rights:
    • Especially in jurisdictions where the moral rights of creators (like authors) are recognized and might not be assigned even if the work’s copyright is transferred
  • Franchise Agreements:
    • If the business model includes franchising, the terms and IP related to those franchises will be audited.
  • Confidentiality Agreements:
    • With employees, contractors, business partners, etc.
  • Database Rights:
    • Specific rights that protect databases, especially in some jurisdictions.
  • Geographical Indications:
    • Signs used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation due to that origin.

Key Steps in an IP Audit:

  • Define Scope: Outline what the audit will cover – patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, etc.
  • Data Collection: Gather information on all IP assets, including registration, licensing agreements, and litigation histories.
  • Evaluation: Analyze the data to determine the value of each IP asset, its use, and any associated risks.
  • Recommendations: Develop strategies for better IP management, protection, or monetization.
  • Implementation: Take actionable steps based on the recommendations.

Potential Challenges During an IP Audit:

  • Incomplete Records: All IP-related records must be current and accurate.
  • Valuation Difficulties: IP valuation can be complex, often requiring expert input.
  • Legal Landmines: Unaddressed IP issues can lead to legal disputes down the line.

Benefits of Regular IP Audits:

  • Stay Competitive: Enhance and maintain your market position.
  • Maximize ROI: Extract the most value from your IP assets.
  • Avoid IP Erosion: Protect your IP from potential infringements or unauthorized use.
  • Foster Innovation: Knowing what you have can inspire further innovation.

Benefits of Regular IP Audits:

IP assets play a pivotal role in the success of a business. 

An IP audit is not just about ticking boxes… it’s a strategic tool that ensures these valuable assets are safeguarded, utilized effectively, and consistently add value to the business. 

Regular audits are a mark of a business that understands the worth of its intellectual capital.

Contact us today to schedule your next IP Audit at Ana Law.