Using Intellectual Property in Business
Protecting Intellectual Capital
"Intellectual capital" is the sum of an organization's ideas, inventions, technologies, brands, general knowledge, software, designs, processes, etc. (i.e. knowledge that can be converted into profit)
Intellectual capital is a broad term used to identify all knowledge assets of an organization such as ideas, inventions, technologies, brands, general knowledge, software, designs, or processes. In addition to the knowledge assets mentioned above, the intellectual capital may also include the experience and skills of the employees and their ability to acquire more knowledge. In general, the intellectual capital is formed of that non-common knowledge that might have value for a competitor. In this knowledge-based economy, the strategic use of the intellectual capital has become one of the most important aspects of running a successful business. More and more SMEs realize that they may extract more value, and in an easier way, by strategically using their intellectual capital instead of competing on price alone.
The formal ownership of most of intellectual capital is done through IP.
Quite often, the most important knowledge asset of an organization is its intellectual property (IP) since it may be better identified, valued and legally protected. In Canada, the IP assets that may be protected by formal legislation are patents, trade-marks, industrial designs, copyright, integrated circuit topographies, and plant breeders' rights. Know-how and trade secrets are forms of IP that are not protected by formal legislation but are provided national and international value. The strategic management of IP assets can give a company a proprietary market advantage, improve its financial performance, and enhance its competitive advantage. It is, therefore, important that SMEs have a proactive approach to stimulate the creation and wise management of their IP assets.