I am confused: it’s the mid-August already. Not so long ago I wrote about using IP’s as tools, while it was still winter and promised myself that I would continue on the subject in the spring, but it seems Mother Nature decided to skip spring and summer in Finland this year. Nevertheless, here goes.

Embrace the world. As in life in general, changes happen every day in the business world and at an accelerating pace. A deal is closed, CEO fired and a new one hired and a new co-operation is launched. There are always numerous decisions to be made that have implications for the overall business strategy and even IP strategy, the work is ongoing. Still, there are some fundamental elements of IP strategy to consider, and actions to be taken, that do not change whether a company is a digital age start-up singing in the choir of disruption or a multimillion-euro company producing familiar old-stand-by types of products.

There are few small steps every company should and can take in order to get closer to receiving the benefits of a well-structured IP strategy. A word of warning, though: this does not require superpowers, digitalization, IoT, disruption or lots of money, but only a clear business strategy and some hard work.

1. Get your act together 

Ask yourself - What do you do that no one else does, or what do you do better than anyone else? Prepare an answer. Where is your proof? Are your assets tangible or intangible? Are they protectable as an asset or as property? What is the best tool to make them visible?If you already have proof, great! Ask someone to take an objective look at them – audit the assets you have. Write down what you learned, gather and save the relevant materials for future use. Please do not do this alone, reflect together with someone you trust. If you have no proof, take action – business first. Think about what kind of proof you need right now and ten years from now. Benchmark. Ask for advice. Document everything.

2. Get the right people involved

After doing the hard work of making it all visible, you can plan ahead. Inform your key people what it is that you have, and explain why it matters to the company, now and in the future. Take responsibility and share it. Get trusted advisors involved and trust them. And yes, document everything.

3. Get it done and start again

Implement it. Do business. Work the plan. Change it, but only for a very good reason, a business reason. Follow up. Be smart and once again trust the advisors, ask for a second and a third opinion, if necessary. Do not fight for nothing. Choose your battles or choose a different path. Do the full circle. The world changes – every once in a while you have to ask yourself the same basic questions again and start over. And, did I already mention it? Document everything.

Is it a personal branding scheme? No, although that has been a hot topic lately. This is a to-do-list to get you closer to having something you can call an IP strategy. The beauty of intangible rights is that you have to document them to make them visible. My list is harshly oversimplifying it, but still, the core does not change even though it would be fleshed out in practice with consulting terms and more detailed instructions.

Now, I will not promise to write more on this subject when the snow comes, because it just might do that any given day! You can always rely on the short and cold Finnish summer. Luckily, you can take on the above list despite of the weather!