Briefings

IP Audits

Uncover Your Hidden Assets with a Government Funded IP Audit

Under the UKIPO’s IP Audits Plus service, businesses identified as having the potential to grow can apply for funding to spend on an IP audit. The total funding available is £3000, made up of a £2500 contribution from the UKIPO and a £500 contribution from the business applying.

What is an IP Audit?

An IP audit is a systematic review of the IP assets owned, used, or acquired by a business. Broadly speaking, an IP audit may be used to (1) identify and evaluate existing IP assets and opportunities to create new IP assets and to capitalise on them and/or (2) to anticipate and manage IP-related risks.

The IP audit will be tailored around the needs and goals of the business. Some companies may therefore benefit from quite a broad review of all their IP assets and other companies may benefit more from an audit delving into one particular IP-related question.

The aim of the IP audit report is to help the businesses gain a clear picture of their IP assets, provide recommendations on how to develop, manage and capitalise on them, as well as identifying potential risks. The IP audit report is confidential.

Why is an IP Audit Important?

If you’re a business, it’s almost certain that you have some form of IP, often without knowing it and, just like any other business asset, there is real and potential value in this IP. Before you can make your IP to work for you, it is important to first identify your IP assets.

Similarly, without awareness of potential weaknesses, whether that is in terms of third party IP rights, unclear ownership or inadequate internal processes for management of IP, possible risks to the business remain unknown.

These opportunities as well as risks can be uncovered through an IP Audit.

Acting on the recommendations made in an IP audit may help the business save money and may even help the business grow, through an increase in the value of the IP or through increased attractiveness of the business for investment or exit.

Examples

We have carried out numerous IP audits and whilst each one is tailored to the specific needs of the business in question, some of the types of questions that can be looked at in an IP audit include the following.

Audit of existing IP to:

  • uncover how the business is or can be distinguished from competitors
  • identify opportunities to bolster protection
  • identify any gaps in protection
  • identify any ownership issues
  • identify opportunities for cost savings
  • prioritise what to file and when and what to keep as a trade secret
  • strategically refocus the IP budget to certain areas for maximum impact
  • opportunities for creating value through, for example, assigning, licensing, franchising
  • provide cost projections to help budget for future IP costs

Audit of potential IP threats to:

  • consider freedom to operate (FTO) issues
  • look into competitor activities and potential impact on the business
  • consider defensive actions in view of competitor activities

Audit of internal IP management processes to:

  • recommend procedures for identifying potentially patentable and registrable rights
  • handle IP ownership in different types of agreements with different parties and for different types of IP
  • manage IP-related agreements and the obligations arising therefrom
  • advise on use of confidentiality agreements
  • obtain clearance for publication
  • regularly strategically review IP with relevant stakeholders to identify IP for capitalisation, consolidation or other action
  • provide recommendations on ways to increase IP awareness throughout the business
  • align IP strategy with the wider business goals

How to Apply?

The application process is quick and simple and is facilitated by one the UKIPO’s dedicated partners from the Welsh Government, Scottish Enterprise, or Enterprise Europe Network (EEN), depending on the location of the business applying. Once funding is approved, the business then chooses a patent attorney, trade mark attorney or IP solicitor to conduct the audit and to produce a report.

We have conducted numerous IP audits for companies of varying types and size, and we have long established connections with the UKIPO’s dedicated partners. If an IP audit might be of interest to your business, please do get in touch with your usual GB contact, or Meeta Mistry. We would be delighted to work with you to ensure that you receive the greatest possible benefit from the IP audit.