A step-by-step IP Strategy Checklist for SMEs

Along with having a business plan, every innovative company should have an intellectual property (IP) strategy. Developing an IP strategy is not a one-time event. An IP strategy will evolve with a company’s business goals and should be reviewed regularly.

What is an IP strategy

An Intellectual Property strategy is a company’s plan of action to manage and protect its intangible assets.

To assist in developing and refining a company’s IP strategy, this IP checklist is provided as a non-exhaustive list of questions and possible actions to be considered and taken throughout a company’s commercialization lifecycle. The checklist applies equally to products and/or services across a spectrum of technologies.


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IP Strategy Checklist

The list helps to prevent the most common pitfalls start-ups encounter. The IP strategy checklist is by no means all-inclusive. Many factors may influence its relevance to a particular company, depending on the jurisdiction, state and nature of the technology or innovation developed, targeted markets, competitive landscape, etc.

Every business will have unique business challenges that necessitates a tailored IP strategy. While it may be helpful to supplement advice from an IP professional, this IP checklist is not intended and will not replace securing competent expert advice from IP lawyers or patent and trademark attorneys. This checklist also does not constitute legal advice.

The checklist is divided into four (4) parts that reflect the general stages of commercialisation:

(photo: Getty images)

1. Ideation process

Generating and developing ideas

(photo: Getty images)

2. Product and service development

Commercial and market analysis

(photo: Getty images)

3. IP protection

Securing assets

(photo: Getty images)

4. IP commercialization

Market entry

Stage 1: The Ideation Process

1. Commercial application

2. Identifying intellectual property assets

3. Capturing intellectual property assets

4. Confidential information

5. Likelihood of intellectual property protection

6. Partnerships

7. Identifying competitors


Stage 2: Product / service development

1. Freedom-to-operate search

2. Intellectual property searches

3. Third party rights

4. Intellectual property strategy implementation

Stage 3: IP Protection

1. IP protection strategy

2. Prioritization of IP protection

3. Technology landscaping

4. IP Strategy Development

5. Monitoring ownership

6. Non-registerable IP Protection

7. Intellectual Property advice

8. IP Strategy alignment


Stage 4: IP Commercialization

1. Commercialization vehicle

2. IP asset valuation

3. Freedom to Operate

4. Competition monitoring

5. Branding

6. IP review

7. IP audit

8. IP policy and education

Your answers to the IP strategy checklist questions should give you a clearer picture of how your IP portfolio is currently being managed at your company to help you identify areas of improvement. If you want WIPO to assist you in refining your IP strategy to make sure that no stone is left unturned, visit our intellectual property services page for more information.