Previously in our Intellectual Property (IP) Best Practices series, we introduced step nine to maximizing your IP: don't infringe. Check back next Monday for a bonus tip, the last of this series. Don't miss it!

Image Courtesy: Katie Walker @ FlickrFinally, what all this blog series has been leading up to: Be prepared. Using a good strategy to protect intellectual property enables a company to leverage the maximum value of created IP to boost a business’s valuation. But before investing or conducting business, a third party will always want to conduct its own due diligence to: (1) ascertain whether you actually have ownership of the IP you purport to own, and (2) determine what risks using your IP may entail.

In a corporate acquisition of a company for its intellectual property portfolio or licensing deal, if the acquiring company is to be sued for using the acquired company’s infringing IP, then the transaction is useless. Therefore having one’s "house in order" streamlines the whole process. Do not expect an acquisition, merger, or any sale of IP without thorough due diligence. The level of diligence is even higher if the transaction is an IPO. Now more than ever, when more often than not three quarters of a company’s value is in its IP, it is highly unlikely any buyer or investor would deal with a business without ensuring they are getting their money’s worth. Mergers and acquisitions is a high pressure business and the longer you drag it along, the probability of something going wrong increases.

To streamline this process, it is advisable to store all documentation relating to your intellectual property in a safe and accessible place. Such documentation includes IP registrations, proof of first use, any pending applications, etc. Patents and trade secrets are considered most valuable and hence the most closely scrutinized; as such ensure everything concerning them is in order.

Traklight’s IP Vault® is a cloud-based storage tool that can store all your IP and business-related materials, automatically time stamping them to help with third party verification. Storing this documentation online in a secure location will also afford you the ability to enable your lawyer, CPA, or prospective buyers’ attorney to access these documents remotely, saving time and needless clutter.

So now you are ready to make the most out of your business! Hopefully this Strategy Guide for IP Best Practices helped you. And don't forget to check back next week for a bonus feature: IP Vault® best practices!

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