Term Paper: Intellectual Rights

Pages: 10 (3002 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Business  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] The thing that makes the company unique will have been appropriated by another company, making the original company look like one of many. This can certainly hurt profits, and may even drive a company out of business. It is therefore, very important that new companies get their employees to sign confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements.

Failing to establish certain intellectual property rights, such as copyrights and patents. This is probably the worst thing that a new company can neglect, as getting these patents and copyrights is the basis of being able to control the intellectual property later. A new company must never neglect to obtain these patents and copyrights if it hopes to be successful in the highly competitive business world ("Key Issues," 2003).

Companies that make it past the start-up phase will find themselves in the growth phase. This is a phase where the company is growing larger, becoming more successful, and expanding into new areas. While it may seem that it is possible at this stage to ignore intellectual property rights, as the details taken care of in the start-up phase will be in place and secure, this is actually no time to ignore the issue of intellectual property rights. A growing company, especially one that is experiencing some success, needs to be ever-vigilant in order to make sure that their intellectual property is not being illegally appropriated by others. This is something that can happen quite easily to a growing company. Other people and other companies will see the success that the company is experiencing and will seek to copy it. This copying may be done surreptitiously, and the people and businesses using it may be doing so stealthily. However, any unauthorized use of intellectual property is illegal. A growing company must be on guard in order to ensure that this is not happening to them. Measures and procedures should be in place in the growing company that employees and management can use in order to find out if any of the company's intellectual property is being stolen. The growing company must likewise be vigilant in order to ensure that it is not inadvertently stealing anyone else's intellectual property, as the growing company and its employees will naturally pick up lots of useful information and ideas as growth continues; it is necessary to always check to make sure that these new ideas are not the intellectual property of others. This type of checking, and the frequent performing of it, will help the growing company to avoid costly lawsuits.

There will eventually come a time when the growing business can be said to be out of the growth phase and into the maturity phase. The maturity phase is the phase in which the company has grown about all it can reasonably be expected to grow, and is now relatively stable in what it does, how it does it, and what it offers. Many of the company's products or services may be well-known at this point, and may even be "household words." The company at this point has built up a good, solid reputation. People know what the company does, what it represents, and have definite impressions of it, either good or bad. The profits are fairly steady year after year at this point, and output is steady. These are good times for a company. They are also times in which intellectual property still needs to be protected.

When a company is in its maturity phase, it is in the phase in which those looking to use the intellectual property of the company are most likely to show up and ask for a license. If a company is successful enough to have reached the maturity phase, this normally means that it has one or more products, services, or ideas that are clearly identifiable with the public. This makes the intellectual property very valuable. Because of this, others are likely to want to use it in order to make money for themselves, while coasting on the success of the intellectual property that the company has already established. When the issue of licensing comes up, the company must then make the decision of whether or not to license.

The decision of whether or not to license is a serious one, not to be undertaken lightly. It is important to remember that the intellectual property that may or may not be licensed is valuable to the company, has helped to build the reputation of the company, and has made the company lots of money. The reputation of the company may rest on the intellectual property in question. When a person or other company wants to get a license for this intellectual property, the company must consider several things before making a decision:

Will licensing the intellectual property help or hurt the company?

Will the person or company wanting the license use the intellectual property in a way that will damage the reputation of the company or the intellectual property itself?

How important to the company is it to have the sole use of the intellectual property?

What licensing terms is the potential licensee looking to have?

When the company leaders get together and consider these issues, only then will a decision be able to be made on whether or not to grant the license. Granting the license could be a big boost to the company, and could get the word out to more people about the particular product, service, or idea that is being licensed. This is true in franchising, and it is something that many companies in the maturity phase engage in. Franchising is a means of licensing intellectual property that has the potential to be a huge benefit to the company at large. If, however, a person or other company wants to use intellectual property in a way that may take business away from the company or otherwise hurt it, then the company leaders will probably not want to grant the license. Licensing is an important consideration in the maturity phase.

While not every company experiences a decline phase, many of them do. Even the most successful companies can eventually find that their time has passed and that they are in decline. When this happens, issues of intellectual property rights take on a new meaning. A company experiencing decline may find that the time is right to begin selling the rights to its intellectual property. This may be done to pay expenses of the declining business, or it may be done to give new life in another company to a particular piece of intellectual property that still has a future. Either way, a company that is in decline will be faced with the issue of what to do with its intellectual property. It may be that the head of the company wishes to retain the intellectual property rights so that income can be had from the licensing of these rights, even after the company itself is no longer in business, or because it may be felt that the intellectual property may be useful in a new company that the company leaders are considering starting. When a company is in decline, there are lots of options for what to do with the intellectual property, and whatever is done must be for the benefit of either the company itself, or the intellectual property.

Intellectual rights are something that every company must deal with. These rights have been in the process of development for centuries, and are still developing today as times and people change. The intellectual property rights that each company faces will be different depending on the stage in the business cycle in which the company finds itself. The decisions that are made regarding the intellectual property must be made in the best interests of the company, or in the best interests of the intellectual property itself.


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