The word “Audit” automatically triggers nightmares and cold sweats for many who think of a tax audit. Others may even associate an audit with the painstaking financial, operational, compliance, forensic or information system audits provided by professionals and service providers far and wide. The reality is that, oftentimes, “audit” has very different meanings to different people in different industries. Before you decide whether you want one, need one or even bemoan one, understand the scope and value to your organization.
Focusing on one particular kind of audit, an IP Audit is geared toward helping organizations proactively take stock of their intellectual property so as to further protect and monetize it. An IP Audit will typically accomplish the following:
- Identify trademarks, copyrights, patents and trade secrets;
- Apply for and/or otherwise secure in the United States and/or internationally that IP;
- Docket any IP registrations for maintenance and renewal;
- Monitor the IP to identify infringers, including implementation of monitoring programs online or otherwise;
- Enforce the IP, via notice/demand letters, opposition/cancellation proceedings or, if necessary, litigation; and
- Monetize the IP, with proper licensing or other treatment.
Organizations typically perform such IP Audits on a regular basis, especially if research and development is at the core of the organization. The scope initially may be bigger than necessary to maintain accurate information related to each of the above.
Ultimately, performing an IP Audit can provide numerous benefits. Generally, the scope should be broad enough that it ensures proper value to the organization. When done properly, the IP Audit:
- Ensures proper policing and enforcement efforts so as to maintain IP rights
- Identifies revenue-generating opportunities
- Makes due diligence in the event of an acquisition or financing smoother, faster and oftentimes cheaper
If knowing what you don’t know and confirming what you think you know is important, your organization would be get value from an IP Audit.