Nexus guest blog: HGF – Exploiting hidden business value

In our guest blog, members of the Nexus community give an insight into what they’re working on.

In this piece, Dr Frazer Bye, Senior Patent Attorney at HGF, one of our professional services partners, provides an introduction to intellectual property and how you can exploit hidden value in your business.

Exploiting hidden business value

Do you have undiscovered value in your business? Intangible assets like intellectual property can make up a significant proportion of the value of a business, but can be hard to spot and are often hiding in plain sight. Furthermore, innovation can lurk in the seemingly mundane and is not always profound. This makes it hard for business owners to identify where value lies and to take appropriate steps to secure and exploit that hidden value.

Unidentified value can be easily lost, such as by natural staff turnover taking unrecorded know-how with them or by keen marketing departments publishing seemingly-mundane information which contains too much detail about your proprietary technology.

Without a process in place, such value can all too easily dissipate or go unnoticed. One method to avoid lost value is to ensure your business periodically conducts an intellectual property audit to identify where value lies in the business and to make a formal log of that value. In this way known and unknown intangible assets are identified, formalised, and reviewed so that an appropriate protection and exploitation strategy is deployed to capture that value for the business.

Identification involves looking at your business and determining how each employee or team contribute, their know-how, brand presentation, and innovations. The protection, policies, and processes you currently have in place are reviewed followed by each area of your business for unrecognised assets. During this review all levels of your business are educated to recognise and flag intangible assets to be secured and exploited as appropriate in future.

Once identified, the assets are catalogued. This list includes formal IP, such as registered patents, trade marks, designs, and copyright publications. Unregistered intellectual property is logged and formalised creating a formal record of that previously hidden value, such as written records of know-how and brand culture.

Once value is identified and formalised, decisions on exploitation can be made. Each item can be ranked and exploited proportionately to the benefit provided by that value. For example, patenting only the technology significant enough to warrant the patent costs and that you don’t mind others using when your patent expires, or identifying informal know-how that should not be disclosed to a competitor if a staff member leaves. Expensive to maintain registered intellectual property rights can be reviewed to make sure they are working and adding value for your business.

An IP Audit is a useful tool to ensure your intangible assets are identified and put to work. The UK Government is currently offering significant IP Audit funding for eligible businesses through the IP Audit Plus scheme, and following a successful audit, potentially an IP Access grant which can be used for the creation, and management, of IP assets.

So, if you are unsure, or have not recently reviewed where the value lies within your enterprise an IP Audit is a great place to start.  If you would like to know more, you can attend one of our partner drop in sessions in Nexus and speak to a colleague.