There is never a bad time to do an intellectual property (IP) audit for your company but we recommend an annual audit. You might want to wait until you are faced with a lawsuit, but the absence of legal action is an ideal time to determine the IP assets your company owns, what new assets might need to be registered and to set a schedule to check regularly for any possible infringements of your company’s IP assets.

While some protection services may best be done by an IP attorney, there are several simple steps you can take to ensure that you have the basics correct.

  1. Confirm that your contact information on all your IP registrations is correct. Phone numbers, email addresses, and names of the principals may change. When it comes time to renew a registration, a critical deadline might be missed if something as simple as an email address is no longer up to date.
  2. Check that all registrations are in the company’s name. This may seem like a no-brainer, but whether due to ego or expedience, some companies have registrations in an individual’s name. This can lead to legal actions down the road that could have been prevented if the registration were originally in the company’s name.
  3. Review all company trademarks. To maintain a trademark, it is necessary to show continuing use of said trademark. If a company cannot demonstrate that they have continued to use that trademark in the previous period for which it is registered, you may encounter problems with the United State Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) when it comes time to renew.
  4. What’s New? Has your company developed any new technology that could be considered proprietary? If so, you may need to apply for a patent. In addition, if your company has undergone a new marketing campaign to distinguish yourself from competitors in the minds of the public, you may want to register it as a trademark.

These are just a few of the basic steps that you need to be aware of when it comes to protecting your company’s intellectual property.  There are more complex steps that you can undertake with the help of an IP attorney to ensure that all of your IP rights are protected.