A company’s intellectual property and inventions
Your company’s intellectual property is, for example, its patents, knowhow and trade secrets. To manage them, draw up an IPR (intellectual property rights) strategy. Plan how your company will protect its intellectual property and what it would do in the event of infringements. You can increase the extent of your company’s intellectual property with inventions, for example.
Intellectual property is, defined broadly, all the property in the business that produces value, and which is not tangible. Your company can accrue intellectual property, for example, through research, product development, manufacturing, sales and marketing. Examples of intellectual property are:
- utility models
- design rights
- trade secrets.
Your company should draw up an IPR strategy to manage its intellectual property. The strategy would provide guidelines for all activities relating to your company’s intellectual property.
Your company should itself keep an eye on the competition and identify any infringements of its intellectual property rights. If, for example, your company holds a patent for an invention, it is worth ensuring that your competitors are not making use of the invention without permission.
Establish appropriate practices and processes to enable your company to monitor its rights. Keep an eye on the markets continuously and systematically.
You can employ a reliable patent agent or equivalent qualified external expert to help you oversee your rights.
When you establish an IPR strategy for your company, first examine what intellectual property your company has. Look at what other company rights your company has use of and whether it needs to acquire more. Decide who will be responsible for the use of intellectual property in your company.
Discover what risks are associated with your company’s intellectual property and its rights. Look at what commitments your company has made regarding intellectual property, for example, in its marketing. Appoint those responsible in your company for IPR.
Determine how your company wants to protect its intellectual property and how it will prepare to defend its rights. By planning ahead, your company can respond and act swiftly if its rights are violated.
Put the IPR strategy you create to work. Monitor the competition and continuously look into the possibilities for licensing and partnerships/collaboration. Train your employees in matters of IPR. Update the IPR strategy regularly and supervise its implementation.
An invention is a new device, piece of equipment, method or procedure or an improvement to an existing one. It may also be a new application for an old invention. An invention presents a new solution to a problem and can be applied in practice.
If your company has an idea for a new product, see if it has the ingredients for an invention. Find out if there are already products in existence based on your idea and if they are protected with a patent or utility model. Help is available from experts at the Patent and Registration Office.
Assess your invention’s advantages, the extent to which it reflects current trends, and its marketability. Find out what it would cost to productise the invention and where you might obtain financing. You can apply for public financing via Business Finland, for instance.
Apply for a patent or utility model for your invention. This will guarantee an exclusive right to it. Do not present your invention publicly until you have submitted the application.
Under the Finnish Act on the Right in Employee Inventions, you, as the employer, may have a right to your employee’s invention wholly or partly. The requirement is that your employee’s invention is related to his or her functions and duties or is a result of the person’s experience gained in your company.
Your employee must inform you in writing of his or her invention without delay. At the same time the employee must explain clearly what sort of invention it is. If you wish to obtain rights to your employee’s invention, say so in writing to the employee in question within four months of the time you received notification of the invention.
Pay your employee a reasonable sum of money for the rights you gain. Also provide your employee with the necessary information relating to such matters as patents applied for and granted for the invention, product manufacturing volumes and retail prices.
If your employee has invented something in his or her own time with no link to your business, the employee owns the rights to it.