Crowdsourcing can be an exciting and cost-effective way for businesses not only to keep up with the latest consumer trends and preferences, but also to maintain a competitive edge in their existing market and beyond. However, ideas crowdsourcing may also expose businesses to IP risks. An idea or concept that is not properly managed may cause more harm than good to product and services R&D efforts. Therefore, it is crucial to have proper IP protection in place before undertaking crowdsourcing activities.
Patent professionals often wonder whether to patent an invention or keep it confidential and hope that a third party does not copy it. As patents are a powerful commercial asset which may be licensed, sold, assigned or form the subject matter of a hypothec, the risk of having an invention reverse-engineered and freely copied must be carefully weighed against the controlled disclosure of the invention and the monopoly which issues from a granted patent.
The long-awaited amendments to the Benelux Convention on Intellectual Property recently entered into force. The convention offers broader protection to reputed trademarks in opposition proceedings. In addition, an administrative procedure for invalidation and revocation before the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property (BOIP) is now available and the Benelux Court of Justice has become the sole jurisdiction for appeals against BOIP decisions.
The best way for a company to prepare for due diligence is through long-term measures: develop an IP strategy, implement it and maintain a record of the portfolio's status at all times. This should be done with the long-term goal of building value that will be identified and appreciated by a potential investor and reflected in a favourable due diligence report.
The Internet of Things, big data analytics and artificial intelligence are IT mega-trends that are not only evolving rapidly, but also infiltrating practically every industry. While these technologies naturally raise data privacy concerns, they also pose challenges in relation to intellectual property and the ways in which IP-based relationships are established.
In a recent decision before the World Intellectual Property Organisation, a panel denied the transfer of a three-letter domain name, even though it identically reproduced a complainant's trademark, because the domain name had been registered years before the complainant acquired trademark rights and the complainant failed to demonstrate that the respondent was aware of those rights.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing exponentially. While most market players have good knowledge of their vertical competition, as increasingly more telecoms players enter the market, companies operating in the IoT field can expect these players to have IP rights that encroach on their future areas of business. As such, it is crucial for parties to assess any potential IP rights threats and proactively develop an IP rights strategy, in order to ensure that they have the freedom to act at a later stage.