As much as 80 percent of a company's value lies in the intangible assets. Companies that develop and nurture their assets have a higher profitability than those that do not. What intangible assets does your company have? How do you manage them most effectively? Find out by answering these 12 quick questions.
Do you want exclusive rights to your company’s name and logotype, products or services?
Would it be harmful to your company if a competitor used your company name or other features?
Do you work with research or product development where your manufacturing processes mean your production is more effective than your competitors’?
Do you have a product whose form and appearance are key competitive advantages?
Do you produce texts, pictures, music or film used for commercial purposes?
Can you attract investors more easily if you have protected your products and services?
Do you develop software, computer games or apps?
Have you developed a business concept or business model which gives you an advantage over your competitors?
Do you have employees with special skills or cutting-edge knowledge that makes your offer particularly attractive?
Do you have internal manuals or descriptions of working methods that give you a competitive advantage?
Do you have your own databases or customer registers that give you competitive advantages?
Are you active on an international market?
How exciting is that? The next step is to consider what you should do to convert your intangible assets into revenues, competitive advantages and new business opportunities. This is best done together with an experienced advisor.
Congratulations! Your answers suggest your company has many valuable assets. Below you can read more about them and how to create business advantages and new possibilities.
Are you sure you have no intangible assets? Either way, you may have some in the future. It is important to keep in mind that intangible assets might be extremely useful to your company if you manage them correctly. Advice and tips on what to do can be found here at prv.se.
NAME OF THE COMPANY, LOGOTYPE OR SERVICE
Companies that nurture their brands are characterised by better growth, profitability and better development. Customers are often loyal to the brands they like and are prepared to pay more for their products and services. Therefore a strong trademark is more attractive to employees, financiers and collaboration partners and can increase the value of the company. You can have exclusive rights to a logotype for a merchandise or service if you register your trademark with PRV. With trademark protection you can then license out and sell the logotype.
How to manage your assets A trademark is a symbol or a characteristic of a company, product or service. It can be words, figures, letters, digits, personal names, slogans or sounds. It can also be a specific design of the product itself or its packaging. By registering your company with the Swedish Patent and Registration Office you will safeguard the company name itself. At PRV you can also apply for trademark registration for a company logotype, product, service or webstore. One of the requirements for registering a trademark is that it is unique and cannot be confused with another trademark. With trademark protection you can for example license out your trademark. With the help of PRV's different search services you can search for trademarks that resemble yours. Swedish Companies Registration Office Register trademark
SAFEGUARD YOUR TRADEMARK
When you register a trademark, you will have more opportunities to utilise its value. And so it is important to monitor your trademark so that no one infringes on your rights. No one may use your registered trademark without your permission, but it is your responsibility to monitor its use. Whoever uses your trademark without permission might be guilty of trademark infringement. If you discover that this is the case you can turn to the Patent and Market Court, PMD. Exclusive rights to a trademark also apply digitally, for example online. However, a domain name (internet address) that resembles or is identical to your trademark is not necessarily considered a trademark infringement.
How to handle your assets With the help of the Swedish Trademark Database and the Swedish Trademark Magazine you can monitor trademarks registered by other people. If you feel that someone is infringing on your trademark you can lodge an objection. If you do not have the time or knowledge to keep tabs on what competing trademarks are registered, you can hire our consultants at PRV InterPat. They have years of experience in search and monitoring services and will present you with material that will make it easier for you to make well-informed decisions.
One important competitive advantage can be to have effective manufacturing processes that the competitors are unfamiliar with. You can use this to your advantage in several ways. Perhaps you can license or sell your manufacturing process? Perhaps you can attract new collaboration partners?
How to handle your assets Your own manufacturing processes can be protected in several ways, in certain cases through a patent with the PRV. A patent gives you exclusive rights to the, but then you must publish it in the patent document. You can also choose the keep the processes a trade secret. In that case you need routines for how to go about this. For example, you can draw up competition clauses in employment contracts or service contracts. If you do this, it is important that the clauses meet the applicable regulations. Perhaps only a small number of individuals within the company need to have knowledge of the entire processes. If the manufacturing processes have been completely or partially created by someone else, such as hired consultants, you should have a contract that grants you the right to use the processes. At prv.se you can search existing patent documents. That way you can avoid working on solutions that already exist.
DESIGN AND APPEARANCE
Registering your design gives you an important advantage since you will have exclusive rights to use the design. With exclusive rights, it will be easier to keep the competitors at bay and increase the company's market share. You will raise the company's value and make it more visible to investors. Your documented right to the design will make it easier to attract investors and enter sales and licence contracts.
How to handle your assets If the design or appearance of your product differs from a previously known design, you can apply to PRV for design protection (pattern protection). In addition to the registered design protection, there is a limited design protection within the EU which can be obtained without needing to apply for it. When you have a design registration, is it your responsibility to monitor your rights to ensure that your competitors do not infringe on them. The Swedish Design Database is available to help you. If you discover that someone has infringed on your design you can report it to the Patent and Market Courts, PMD. If the design has been created by someone outside the company, for example a hired consultant, you should have a contract that grants you the right to use the design. Your design may also fall under copyright, if it is deemed to have a "threshold of originality".
TEXTS, PICTURES, MUSIC AND FILM
Copyright means that the person who has created something gets to decide how it may be used, for example, how it may be distributed to the public. As a copyright owner you can receive financial compensation for what you have created and have the right to be named in connection with someone using your work. You can license or sell your rights through a contract.
How to handle your assets Copyright protects texts, music, photographs, films, illustrations and literature, to name but a few. It can also apply to computer programs, sculptures, furniture, lamps and architecture. In Sweden, it is not possible to apply for copyright protection, as the rights are triggered automatically when a work is created. In order to be granted protection, what you have created must have a "threshold of originality" – it must have a certain degree of originality. If someone else created the material, such as a hired consultant, you should have a contract that grants you the rights to use the material.
If you are looking for a collaboration partner who can contribute with financing and expertise, it is important to keep a few things in mind. There are many types of investors who all have different motivation and expertise: Angel investors, venture capital companies, investment companies, public organisations, crowdfunding etc.
How to manage your assets The type of investor that might be attracted to your company depends on what type of business you run, what your business concept is and the current development phase. However, there are a few things that they all find interesting: Do you have strong trademarks or trademarks with a lot of development potential? Is there a market for what you have to offer? Do you have an exclusive share of the market? Do you have a business idea with growth potential and a sustainable business strategy? Is your future need for financing realistic? Are you a skilled team with the right experience? Much of this is related to intangible assets. In other words, it is important that you look after your assets by protecting them in different ways. This will then increase your company's competitive edge, and help you attract investors and other partners.
SOFTWARE, COMPUTER GAMES AND APPS
Patents, design protection and copyrights grant you exclusive rights to your creations, and you are the one to decide how it is used. For example, you can license or sell your assets. You can also choose to keep intangible assets trade secrets, meaning you might need to create a non-disclosure agreement if you must share your idea with someone else before it reaches the market.
How to handle your assets One strategy for managing computer programs, computer games and apps might contain a combination of several forms of protection. Computer programs and computer games alone cannot be patented. On the other hand, technological inventions implemented by a computer program are patentable. You will automatically receive copyright when work with a "threshold of originality" is created. A program code is often covered by copyright. If you choose to keep the asset a trade secret, you need to have a routine in place. For example, you can draw up competition clauses in employment contracts or service contracts. If you include competition clauses, it is important that they meet the applicable regulations. If the material has been created or developed by someone outside the company you should have a contract that grants you the right to use the material. At prv.se you can search existing patent documents. That way you can avoid working on solutions that already exist.
BUSINESS CONCEPTS AND MODELS
Many successful companies are founded on a clever business concept and business model. One of the most important things you can do to secure your company's future is to carefully plan out your business concepts and models. This will also increase your chances of entering collaborations and attracting new employees.
How to manage your assets Business concepts and business models cannot be protected by a patent or other registered exclusive rights. However, you can create a trademark and fill it with values. If you register the concept or model as a trademark, you will be given its exclusive rights. It might also be possible for you to keep business concepts and business models a secret. If this is the case, you will need routines – and employment contracts and service contracts may be an important element. By regulating what employees may take with them when they change jobs, you can prevent the spread of the business concepts and business models. If they were created or developed by someone outside the company, you should have a contract that grants you the right to use them.
SKILLS AND CUTTING-EDGE KNOWLEDGE
Cutting-edge knowledge and special skills might be an advantage against competitors without the same knowledge, as long as employees who have this knowledge remain in your company. Skills and cutting-edge knowledge can be protected to a certain extent through clear employment contracts and service contracts.
How to manage your assets Contracts can form a major part of a company's value. For example, important contracts can apply to the company's consultants, collaboration partners or associates. It may also be about terms contracts with users, investor contracts and publishers. Skills and cutting-edge knowledge can be licensed and sold, for example by offering to have your specialists perform service and maintenance of the product that you are selling. You can also offer direct services. If you draw up competition clauses in an employment contract it is important that they meet the applicable requirements.
INTERNAL MANUALS AND WORKING METHODS
Not all companies are aware that internal manuals and descriptions of work methods can be valuable intangible assets, yet they can for example be licensed or sold. Keeping them confidential can provide you with competitive advantages, provided that the competitors do not have the same information.
How to manage your assets Internal manuals and descriptions of work methods can be protected as trade secrets. You will need routines, and employment contracts and service contracts may be an important part. By regulating what employees may or may not take with them when they change jobs, you can prevent internal manuals and work methods from being spread. If you draw up competition clauses it is important that they meet the applicable regulations. If the manuals or work methods were created or developed by someone outside the company you should have a contract that grants you the right to use them.
DATABASES AND CUSTOMER REGISTERS
Your company's databases and customer registers may be valuable if your competitors do not have the same information. If so, you can choose to license out or sell them. You also collaborate with others who find them interesting, but remember to consider GDPR.
How to manage your assets Databases can be protected through copyright if they are considered to meet the threshold of originality. Databases that do not meet the threshold of originality can be protected through special intellectual property rights (known as "sui generis protection"). The protection time for this is 15 years. Both databases and customer registers can also be protected as trade secrets. Routines are needed for this. One measure might be to regulate what employees may or may not take with them when they change jobs. If you draw up an employment and service contract with competition clauses it is important that they meet the applicable regulations. If the databases or customer registers were created or developed by someone outside the company you should have a contract that grants you the right to use them.
TRADING WITH OTHER COUNTRIES
In what countries would you like to operate your business? This is crucial to how you should manage your intangible assets. Regardless of whether you have a patent, a trademark or a design, it is important that you protect your asset in the country or countries where you are considering operating. Think big right from the start so all of your future markets are covered.
How to manage your assets It is important to ensure that no one else has valid exclusive rights in the country where you are considering operating. If you still choose to operate there commercially, you risk committing an infringement, which could prove costly. At PRV we can help you find out what is protected in the country that you are interested in. Navigating the regulations and protection options available on different markets is complicated and time-consuming. One suggestion might be to enlist a patent attorney, who can guide you through the regulations, applications and other practicalities. This will save you time and decrease the risk of making mistakes.