Why bother protecting my IP? Is it worth the expense?
Protecting your IP may be expensive and may itself represent a considerable investment. Understandably innovators and businesses ask themselves if registering IP is worth the expense and what return they can expect to receive.
The cost of patenting or trademark registration is nevertheless likely to be a small part of the overall investment, after research and other business development costs, of any innovation. It may well be that investment made for technical developments have already occurred and are now sunk costs.
The real question is how to obtain return on those development costs already made and how to guarantee successful commercialisation of the technical developments. In addition, patents are sometimes the only way to attract funds for the next round of financing.
Without proper patent protection market entry for new technical advancements would be uncommercial or impossible, and innovations would remain secret. Only patents safeguard new innovations against copying by rivals. Without the guarantees which only patents can offer innovators the investment necessary to identify or achieve the innovation may never have taken place.
By offering indispensable securities in the market place, or in negotiations with partners, patents facilitate commercialisation and encourage technical development and investment. Patents not only facilitate a return on the investment in innovation, but innovation itself depends on a functioning patent system which is a hallmark of all advanced economies. Numerous studies have shown that economic growth, to the extent that it relies on technical innovation, is dependent on good IP protection and enforcement structures.
Similarly, trademarks are vital steps in ensuring that the goodwill in your business stays with you and is not transferred to someone else.
Your IP is what you have created and developed. For some businesses, the IP may be the main asset and obtaining robust protection of your IP is crucial.
The appropriate consideration for innovators and market entrants may be not whether IP protection is worth the expense, but, instead, whether they can they afford not to obtain IP protection.