Unfortunately, it is very common for most intellectual property owners, no matter what their size, to take a haphazard approach to managing IP assets. As a result, the decision whether or not to seek protection for an asset is often an afterthought and may even happen after the product development cycle is well underway. Another risk is that the IP asset will not be assessed as part of a larger strategy, but instead protected out of a vague sense that it is valuable.
A more logical approach is to conduct an IP audit to collect and analyze information about existing and potential assets so informed and strategic decisions can be made regarding protection. A complete and thorough audit will identify all assets that are subject to legal protection. Also included are the details on any issued patents, registered trademarks, any copyrights and any trade secrets. The audit should also include such things as pending patent and trademark applications, foreign IP assets, confidentiality agreements, and employee non-compete agreements.