Intellectual Property After September 11: Ten Things to Consider

Author:Mr Scott Petersen
Profession:Holland & Knight LLP

In the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, American businesses are looking not only to the immediate issue of damage control but also to the question of how their businesses may be affected in the future. While corporate intellectual property holdings may not be directly impacted the terrorist attacks, those events give rise to a variety of issues that business technology should consider.

Identification. This includes the ability to identify just what is and what is not an intellectual property right. Since patents, trademarks and copyrights are actual "assets" that fall on the plus side of a corporate ledger, it is truly important to be able to properly identify these intellectual properties with accuracy and precision.

Protection. This includes formalizing the protection of intellectual property assets where appropriate. Formal protection comes about through the filing of applications to register copyrights and trademarks. It also includes the filing of patent applications to protect new technology and ideas.

Education. The more companies know about intellectual property, the easier it is to protect those holdings. Thus it is important to get all employees on the "same page" when it comes to identifying, understanding and protecting a company's intellectual property assets.

Implementation. This involves taking those steps necessary to implement an intellectual property program or policy.

Defense. Defensive strategies are just as important as offensive strategies. This means taking those steps required to avoid infringing the intellectual property rights of third parties. Defensive strategies typically rely heavily on employee education.

While the above five points will continue to serve as a template for corporate intellectual property programs, in the wake of September 11, there are a number of dynamics that have come into sharper focus and a number of steps businesses can take to better protect their intellectual property assets. Some of these points will apply only to specific businesses or product areas. Others will be universal in their application. Here are 10 points to consider as you go forward:

Documentation of Intellectual Property Assets

Carefully document your foreign and domestic intellectual property holdings. This includes maintaining duplicate or triplicate lists of your intellectual property portfolio and keeping these inventory lists electronically and in hard copy (in different locations). By...

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