Nowadays, we live in a model of organization, at a social and economic level, in which information plays a key role in creating wealth and contributing to the welfare and life quality of citizens.
Indeed, much of our lives is spent in learning processes and all that surrounds us is a reflection of a constant need to acquire new knowledge: products and services have an increasingly informative character, companies and organizations are more and more dependent on skills of diverse sorts and investments are based, progressively more, on assets of Intellectual Property (IP).
In this context, intellectual capital is the most active and competitive differentiator that a company has, to survive in todays knowledge economy.
The IP may represent the knowledge of how a particular business is conducted, the knowledge required to produce a particular product and/or process or to provide a service, the knowledge associated with creating and maintaining databases of customers and suppliers, among others. To realize the importance of IP in today’s business life, just think of how a particular business would be affected if its closest competitor knew the technological and/or commercial strategy behind it, or had access to its internal operating procedures. The knowledge that is unique to a company or organization is, in this sense, a major source of competitive advantage, and the growing significance of knowledge in economic terms, makes imperative its correct identification, management and valorization.
Knowledge management consists in clearly identifying the IP assets to protect, in choosing the correct type of protection - in line with the companys marketing strategy - and in maintaining these rights in an efficient and effective way, with the aim of allowing economic benefits in the short, medium or long term.
Without proper management, the entity owning the knowledge may not be aware of its IP assets or their value or benefits and may even expose itself to unnecessary risks, loosing the competitive advantage it holds over its competitors.
In this context, any company or organization should act with the aim of periodically identify the IP it holds and its protection status, and to verify the necessity of creating new intangible assets. It should decide the best way to protect them and the future use planned for them: to sell, license, use internally, or even offer it to the public, free of charge. Additionally, and to maximize its investment, the company or organization must evaluate and decide whether to maintain the current strategy of IP protection, or to adopt a different one, more suited to its needs and/or business objectives.
IP Management Systems arise, in this context, as guides easy to use, simple and effective, that allow entities to manage in an efficient and strategic way, the knowledge produced internally, promoting their own enrichment by directing scientific research results, towards its protection and valorization.
These systems are thus designed to ensure an appropriate protection of the knowledge generated throughout the course of the company’s activities or projects/products, defining the proper procedures for its analysis, communication, evaluation and documentation.
Its importance is thus increasingly relevant, as the higher the awareness of the company or organization to the value of the knowledge it produces - as well as the understanding of the legal measures available to ensure its protection - the higher will be its ability to create a solid intellectual heritage, which will enhance its image and reputation in the business sector where it operates and, consequently, will increase its corporate value.