The use of IP in innovation and complementary intellectual asset advisory services


In a recent article, we outlined the role of IP in the innovation process. In particular, we noted that the innovation process can be conveniently described as having 4 main stages, namely:

– conception of innovative ideas,

– the research and development (R&D) stage,

– commercialisation of products or services, and

– the marketing of those products or services.

The process may also include iterative aspects and is often cyclical in order to continually produce new product and service offerings to the market (the so-called “cycle of innovation”).

We noted that the involvement of an IP professional is critical at each stage of the innovation process, for example to provide advice on: legal (confidentiality) agreements, prior art searching and analysis (patentability, freedom to operate, competitor and landscape mapping), trade mark and design registrations, patent strategy (including advice on when a trade secret vs patent protection is appropriate), and enforcement matters.

  • We also noted that additional specialised advice is sometimes required in relation to, for example, Innovation Incentives, comprising advice on Government grants and rebates, and collaborative funding opportunities.

As the activities undertaken at each stage of innovation are different, it follows that the IP considerations are different at each stage, too. It is useful to summarise the stages of innovation and the main forms of IP that are relevant at each stage, and to identify what forms of specialised advice may additionally be appropriate at each stage. In this regard, we refer to the following table.

Closing comments

Outlined in this article is a summary of the main stages of the innovation process and what main IP tools are relevant throughout. We also outline what relevant advisory services are relevant corresponding to the stages of innovation. When an idea is an important commercial asset, it is wise to engage a qualified IP professional (patent or trade mark attorney) to assist in the generation of relevant intellectual property rights that suitably protect that commercial asset. At Spruson & Ferguson, we have a number of highly experienced attorneys who can assist in navigating these complexities. Contact us to understand what IP tools are most appropriate for your innovation.

The content of this article is general in nature and must not be relied on in lieu of advice from a qualified professional in respect of your particular circumstances.

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