Conduct A Janus Review 📓 To Find Hidden Opportunities (and Obstacles) In The Intellectual Property In Your Business

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January is the month for looking forward and looking back. Some believe the word “January” is derived from the Roman mythological god Janus, the god of beginnings and endings. As you close out the books for the prior year and build a strategy for the year ahead, don’t neglect to do a thorough review of your business’s intellectual property.

The Basics

Intellectual property can be categorized as a company’s patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. Said another way, intellectual property is what makes your products great; it’s what makes your brands stand out; it’s what makes your company marketing collateral so wow-tastic; and it’s what makes your secret marketing and sales strategies so effective.

Every business, every day creates intellectual property -no exception. However, not every business will create all types of IP. For example, a retailer (or re-seller) may not have patents, but will probably have trademarks. While science and technology startups likely will create patentable products, create strong brands, develop creative designs or software, and have trade secrets in the way of business plans year after year.

The Janus Review

The Janus Review is my coined term for doing a basic intellectual property audit of your business. Each business should do a Janus Review at the start of the new year and review assets in the company like brands, products, designs, and data.

Here’s what I would ask:

via Giphy

  1. “What registered and unregistered trademarks do you have?”

  2. “What physical products do you make or have made, and how is each protected?”

  3. “What digital products do you make or have made, and how is each protected?”

  4. “What are your strongest marketing and web-based properties, and how is each protected?”

  5. “What are your business strategies and customer data, and how is each protected?”

Who Should Review

Anyone (or any group) with sufficient knowledge in your company of your products, brands, designs, and data can start the review. Documenting the assets you have in each category is a good place to start. Once you have your list, think about what is protected with intellectual property registrations, trade secret controls, and other forms of protection, and what is not. If you find a “gap” in protection, consider visiting an attorney to discuss further. An attorney can also review your company’s pending and registered IP for proper ownership, review agreements for proper allocation of IP, and make a further, perhaps deeper analysis of what could be protected and where you have risk (such as infringing another company’s patents or brands).

In conclusion

Audits are never fun, but a Janus Review can be. The Janus process gathers everything intangible that makes your business great for the sole purpose of growing your business. For example, pitching to investors becomes a little easier if you know all the areas of opportunity and risk in your business, and product planning becomes a little easier because you know what’s protected and what isn’t.

Do yourself a favor. Review what you have so you can determine what you need. By looking behind, you may be best positioned to plan ahead 👊🏿.

The Janus Review

If you would like more information on a Janus Review, contact PRECIPICE.

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Angela Grayson, CIPP/US, CLP  is an author, speaker, and lawyer. She is the Principal and Founder of Precipice IP, PLLC.  Angela is a patent, trademark, copyright, and technology law attorney with almost 20 years of experience helping science and technology companies protect products, brands, designs, and data from idea to launch.

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