By Mary Juetten
If you’ve just opened a new business, this question perhaps hasn’t crossed your mind yet: Is IP part of your business’s foundation? In order to answer, you might wish to understand your intellectual property (IP) and how it factors into making any money. But before you do that, statistics tell us you probably aren’t paying enough attention to how important your IP is. Some small businesses do not fully comprehend the importance of what IP does for them and that is the crucial mistake they are making.
These statistics come from Small Business Trends presenting information gathered over the last four years. They point out that out of all major IP categories, most of them haven’t been protected enough through companies with less than 500 employees. Please keep in mind these were companies that deal with research and development where IP would be of central importance.
In the report from the National Science Foundation, we see concern toward smaller companies in how much financial potential they’re losing out on not paying attention to their IP. Some of the categories not being explored range from patents to trade secrets, with the latter being one of the most important (and unprotected or abused) areas of IP.
What areas of IP should you look at first in your business so you determine what kind of foundation they provide toward your financial interests? It pays to look at all IP and see what the future holds for them in small business.
The Implications Behind the Statistics
You should become familiar with what IP is in your business and how to identify each category. This includes copyrights, trademarks, and patents as just some. However, the comparisons between large and small business in IP importance is quite alarming. The above NSF report clearly shows that trade secrets are the most neglected in small business compared to big business. In the study, only 64% of small businesses analyzed took trade secrets seriously compared to 78% for businesses with more than 500 employees.
The reasons for the above are probably the immediate thought that nobody would care about trade secrets for a small business. In reality, this isn’t the case.
Other categories of IP have even wider disparities in the report. Only 56% of small businesses place importance on trademarks compared to 86% for big companies. When trademarks protect so much of a business’s brand, numbers like these cause concern particularly because the survey is of companies with strong IP awareness.
Wide disparities between small and large businesses are additionally seen in copyrights, plus patents (both design and utility).
The implications here are that small businesses needs to realize their place in the world of IP and how every business matters. They should also know they’re equally vulnerable to IP theft and money losses as the business giants.
This post originally appeared on the Traklight.com blog on March 9, 2015, titled “How Could 64% of Businesses Neglect This One Valuable Asset?!” by Mary Juetten.
Mary Juetten, Founder and CEO of Traklight.com, developed the idea for Traklight while earning her JD and has leveraged 25+ years of business experience to globally launch Traklight in less than three years. Traklight is an innovative software company with a mission to empower you to be proactive in identifying, protecting, and leveraging your ideas for your startup, invention, or business. Through the use of online IP identification and storage tools and resources, Traklight users can protect their IP, and prevent infringement disputes and subsequent losses of large sums of money. Follow Traklight on Facebook, Twitter, or their blog.