Build Your Business Reputation: Learn How to Protect Intellectual Property and Use IP Strategies
with Cassandra Derham
Creating and building an enterprise always starts with an idea. It then snowballs into products, innovation, and processes that keep your business competitive. What many business owners don’t realize is that intellectual assets provide intrinsic value. Thus, they hold commercial and financial benefits. Because they are so valuable, you must know how to protect intellectual property. From here, you can leverage them to scale your business.
In today’s episode, Cassandra Derham discusses the IP strategies that a business can use to safeguard its assets. With her extensive experience in IP, she shares examples to determine the IP strategy your business can use. Then, we understand how we can employ these strategies effectively. Finally, we learn how IP can support your company’s financing.
Tune in to learn how to protect intellectual property and the value it can bring your business!
Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
Learn about the six pillars of IP strategy.
Discover how to protect your intellectual property, specifically, how to establish your know-how.
Find out how to create an IP strategy that will help sustain your business and increase benefits in the long run.
Visit Christina Sjahli’s website! Learn more about innovating and scaling your business through the Her CEO Journey™ podcast.
Demystifying Intellectual Property: IP as a Tool for Protection and Growth - The Journey of Patent Lawyer Isi Caulder
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Connect with Cassandra: LinkedIn
[05:22] Cassandra’s Journey
Originally from Canada, Cassandra spent the last 30 years in Europe.
After getting her master’s degree in medical physics, she worked in an IP firm for eight years.
Then, Cassandra spent a decade working in a Japanese tech company.
For the past five years, she’s been working in Amadeus.
When totalled, Cassandra has been working on how to protect intellectual property for 21 years.
[06:25] What is Intellectual Property?
IP is an exclusive right that legally protects your ideas from being used by others. It also allows you to reap financial benefits from your intellectual assets.
Examples include copyrighting, patenting, trademarks, licensing, trade secrets, and open source.
[08:30] How to Protect Intellectual Property with a Strategy
Protecting your intellectual assets can support your business strategy.
“If you have a business and you're trying to build a business or continue even, you need to understand how the use of those intellectual assets and the protections for those can support your business strategy.”
The six pillars of IP strategy are offensive, defensive, revenue generation, lever, adding value, and entering ecosystems.
Get an idea of which IP strategy fits your business! Listen to the full episode to hear Cassandra’s in-depth discussion into the six pillars of IP strategy.
[17:12] On Trade Secrets
The US has the Trade Secrets Act while the UK has the Trade Secrets Directive.
These laws provide frameworks for remuneration or assistance if you lose your trade secrets.
Cassandra’s department aims to understand how a trade secret is protected and ensures that the people who know it are aware of it.
Having proof that something is a trade secret is part of how to protect intellectual property.
Know your trade secrets. Make sure that anyone who has access to them will not accidentally give them away.
[19:03] Know-Hows as Intellectual Property
A know-how is a process or knowledge within the company that helps them function.
If this is accessed by a third party, it can be potentially damaging to the company.
You need to take the proper measures to figure out how to protect intellectual property and ensure that it’s not shared externally.
“Your know-how can be protected in lots of ways. The main thing is identifying it as yours. Putting a ring-fence around and saying, ‘This is our know-how. This is what we sell.’ Or ‘This is what we know in order to be able to sell something else.’”
[20:47] Obtaining a Trademark
To have a trademark, certain conditions must be met.
Trademarks should be distinctive but not descriptive.
A “™” symbol means the company intends to use it as a way of defining a product. Meanwhile, an “®” symbol means that the trademark is officially registered.
Use “™” to show that you intend to use it as your mark that sets you apart from other brands.
Before putting a “™” after your product, you must first prove that you're developing a reputation around its name.
[23:20] How to Protect Intellectual Property for Small Businesses
Determine your goals and formulate a strategy.
“The first thing is [to] determine what you want to achieve. And then determine what strategy you need to get there.”
Do some research and get consultations on trademarks and patents.
Develop strict branding and build a reputation around this.
Understand the products and intellectual assets that belong to you.
Prioritize quality over quantity when filing for patents, registered designs, and utility models.
[27:45] More Tips on How to Protect Intellectual Property
Check to see if your local patent office gives free sessions on how to protect intellectual property.
If you’re figuring out which idea to patent first, develop a scoring system.
If an idea has a big commercial potential, have a patent that covers it for all countries you intend to work in.
[30:59] On Patent-Pending and Due Diligence
Filing a patent application shows that you have enough to have written something. Investors will look into that depending on the argumentation.
Due diligence is looking at the assets of a company and the argumentation for patent-pending.
In this process, you need to make sure that there is no existing patent infringement.
Patents, granted or not, have value.
Know the right type of IP protection for your product or asset.
[34:57] On Exit Strategies
Having a set strategy can help increase your prices.
“If you have a set strategy that has supported your business case, and you can share that, it shows a better level of sophistication and raises the price.”
Without IP assets and clear examples of your know-how, your prices will sink. That’s because you still have to show your real value.
Demonstration, patents, and academic publications prove your know-how.
[36:14] IP-Backed Financing and How It Works
An IP strategy that supports your business strategy and keeps others out of the market sets you up for a more reliable future income.
Knowing how to protect intellectual property is key to safeguarding your business’ financial future.
IP assets can be mortgaged, licensed, and sold.
Likewise, registered trademarks and copyrights have value and can be sold to third parties.
[39:58] Cassandra’s Advice on Creating IP Strategies
Take a look at the IP landscape around you.
Understand what belongs to you and its intellectual value.
Learn how you can protect your intellectual assets.
“If you'd be annoyed that they stole your computers, you better put a lock on the door. If you'd be annoyed if they stole your idea, you better patent it.”
[41:11] Common Mistakes When Learning How to Protect Intellectual Property
Consult various resources and seek advice from patent offices.
A patent has to be a secret before it is filed.
If you need to share an idea with someone else before it’s patented, make sure to get a non-disclosure agreement.
Consider getting a provisional patent.
Cassandra Derham is a Senior IP attorney and the Head of Intellectual Property of Amadeus, a global travel technology company. She heads a team of experts to protect Amadeus’s technical IP, including inventions, secrets, and copyrights.
Cassandra is also a European patent attorney and a chartered UK patent attorney. She has previously worked as a trainee patent attorney for Mathys & Squire. Later on, she was a patent attorney for J A Kemp & Co and Canon.
With 21 years in the industry, Cassandra has an extensive background in how to protect intellectual property. If you want to know more about her and her work, you may connect with Cassandra through LinkedIn.
“Know what it is that you consider to be your trade secret and that everybody who knows it is aware so that they can inadvertently share it.”
“So I think one thing that's probably worth a little bit of investment and it doesn't have to cost that much is to do a search to see what's already out there.”
“Assets include both patents and patent applications that are not yet granted. They already have a value.”
“You need the right type of IP protection for the thing that you're trying to try to make money out of.”
“If you show that you have an IP strategy that will support your business strategy and that will keep others out of the market, you're setting yourself up for a more reliable future income.”
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Learning how to protect intellectual property can present long-term benefits for your business. Cassandra explains different IP strategies and how these can support your business strategies and increase your financial income. If you enjoyed today's episode of Her CEO Journey™ Podcast, then hit subscribe and share it!
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To fuelling the life you want to live,
Cassandra Derham: Once you have your know-how, how do you protect it? Do you protect it as a secret, and therefore you get people to undertake that they will keep it secret within the company? Or do you try to protect it with patents? Or do you plant your flag somehow? Your know-how can be protected in lots of ways. The main thing is identifying it as yours. Putting a ring fence around it and saying, "This is our know-how. This is what we sell." Or "This is what we know in order to be able to sell something else."
Christina Sjahli: Every business begins with an idea to solve a problem. Then, the journey of creating something unique begins. Perhaps you create a product with a new technology, something that differentiates you from your competitors, or you could have innovated a process like no others. You may not realize it, but perhaps, just perhaps, you have created a collection of intellectual properties. And if you don't protect this asset, your company may face many consequences down the line. The sooner founders realize that intellectual property matters, the better it is for their business. That's the goal of this Intellectual Property Podcast Series. We want you to know what are those assets? How to protect them? And how can you leverage this asset for your business growth?
In last week's episode, which is the first episode in this series, we spoke about the different types of intellectual properties or IP and how small businesses can start protecting their IPs. In the second episode of the Intellectual Property Podcast Series, Cassandra Durham, the head of intellectual property of Amadeus, a global travel technology company, share among others, the following nuggets that you can apply in your business, the main six pillars in IP strategy commonly used by big businesses, how does big business IP strategies are applicable for your small business, and how these strategies protect your asset and create value in exit strategy scenario.
Even though Cassandra is located in Europe, where the IP rules can be different from the rules where your business is operated, at the very least, you can ask the right question as you are creating your IP strategy. So I want you to stick around and listen to the end.
You're listening to Her CEO Journey™, the business finance podcast for mission driven women entrepreneurs, I'm your host, Christina Sjahli. If you are new here, a big warm welcome. If we are not connected on LinkedIn, please reach out and say hi, because that's where I hang out and share my business finance tips. If you have been listening to this podcast for a while, and you are a regular listener, I want you to know I appreciate you. My podcast won't be around without your support. This is a free weekly show where my guests and I want to inspires you to balance between mission and profit, to create an impact in this world, and to achieve financial equality through your business for good.
When you, as a founder, start thinking about creating an IP strategy, it means you start shifting your mindset from short term to long term. This is when normally a founder realize how important it is to have a forward-looking field. The same is true with financial result. As you are shifting from short term to long term, the value of historical information decreases. Because we cannot change the past. We can learn from the past, learn from what had happened and done and use those pieces of information to build the futures. That's what financial forecasting is all about. If you are at a stage where you realize you need to build a more robust financial forecast, but don't know where to start, we have a solution to your problem. Download the Forecasting Guide we have created for you and start creating a better and improved financial forecast. You can find a link to this guide in the show notes.
Let's say after using the guide you think, "Hmm, this guide helps. But I think it's better if I focus my time on doing what I really love, which is building and growing my business. I know business finance is important, but I don't love it. And I don't have the time." That's when we are here to partner with you. We understand building a proper and robust financial forecast takes time, accountability, curiosity, and passion for your business. Connect with us at christinasjahli.com/lets-chat. Now, let's find out Cassandra's journey.
Cassandra Derham, welcome to Her CEO Journey™. It is a pleasure to have you here.
Cassandra Derham: Thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.
Christina Sjahli: Currently, you are the Senior Intellectual Property and the Head of Technical Intellectual Property for Amadeus, which is a leading travel technology company. Before we dive into more details about the importance of intellectual property or IP strategy for small businesses and your experience in developing this strategy, let's start with your journey to get where you are today.
Cassandra Derham: Okay, well, I'm Canadian originally, but I...
Christina Sjahli: I didn't know that.
Cassandra Derham: Yeah, I am. I'm from Alberta. But then, I spent the last 30 years in Europe. So I did all my schooling and studying and everything in the UK. And I've been in the south of France for the last six years. So my journey, we won't go too far back. But my degree is the master's in physics with medical physics. And then after that, I went straight into private practice in an intellectual property firm. It's like lawyers, but really specialized in intellectual property. And there, I sat all my exams to become a European patent attorney and chartered UK patent attorney. And so, I was in private practice for about eight years. And then the call of in house came to me, so I went to a large tech company, a Japanese tech company, actually, and I was there for nearly a decade, and then I've been in Amadeus, for over five years now. So I'm, for last 21 years have been all intellectual property.
Christina Sjahli: What is intellectual property strategy?
Cassandra Derham: Okay. Yeah, that's a very good question. So intellectual property is basically the conversion of an idea, of a creation of the mind that's protected in law in order to allow you to benefit financially from the creation of your mind, right? So a classic example is, if you write a book, you have copyright, which means that nobody can copy your book so that you can be the only person who can sell that book. That's sort of an easy example to understand.
But what if you've come up with an idea for a new type of vacuum cleaner, say? Copyright won't cut it. So you need to find another asset that will legally protect you while you make the most of your intellectual assets. So you might get a patent for that, or a patent, some people say. So that will protect the idea. It's an exclusive right; it'll stop other people from doing the same thing as you've managed to protect your patent. So trademarks, trademarks will protect your logo or the name of your company.
There's also open source. You know, we consider open source to be a type of intellectual property because you are sharing openly your intellectual creation, which is the code that you've written, but you are putting limitations on that. So you put in a license, and you say, "You may use this freely, as long as you abide by the rules of the license." So open source is often misunderstood. But it's definitely a way of conditionally sharing information. It's the same with trade secrets, you're conditionally not sharing information in that respect, or you might share it only with certain partners. And the condition is that they can't share any further.
We also consider defensive publications or academic publications to be a type of intellectual property, right? Because there, what you're doing is you're contributing to the reputation of your company, or of yourself, or whatever it is, you're trying to increase their reputation for. So if you're a company, or you contribute regularly to academic journals, with sort of showing original research and original ideas, you build that reputation, and it's all a conditional way of sharing your intellectual creations. So I'd say that's basically intellectual property.
What's a strategy? Well, that's sort of the next step. If you have a business and you're trying to build a business or continue it even, you need to understand how the use of those intellectual assets and the protections for those can support your business strategy. There might be six main pillars, shall we say, of IP strategy. The first one is offensive, offensive strategy. So basically, you want to stop other people from doing things. So it might be protection against copying. So you have copyright on your slides, on your book, on your design. You might have design rights, that's another thing you can get. In the US, it's called a design patent. In Europe, it's called a registered design. This is really to obtain exclusivity on the markets, and to maybe render your competitors a little bit more fragile in the specific space that you're protecting, right? So that's offensive, you're influencing the market, you're having, you're safe.
But you can also have the second one, which is a defensive strategy. So you might be protecting yourself against aggressors into the market. So that might be that you will publish certain pieces of information to prevent other people from patenting them, for instance, because you can't patent something that's already been published. Okay? So you might have a business idea that is good, but it's not a secret. Then you might just publish it so that nobody else could get a patent or claim it as their own. You're sort of saying, I'm planting my flag here. That's more defensive.
A third one might be for revenue generation, or maybe monetary advantages, right? So, one thing you could imagine is that you might want to optimize your margins if you're selling a product. If you have a patent, for instance, over your product, or if you have a registered design, or you have copyright, or any sort of assets around your product, that means that other third parties are going to have to either design around or they're going to have to pay you a license fee to be able to use it. That necessarily puts up their prices, because they have to incorporate this license fee in their price.
So you can then generate further revenues or increase your margin. There are also a bunch of fiscal and tax optimizations that you can do with intellectual property. So in different countries they're called patent box, or even research tax credits as well. Certainly, we have those in France. If you receive revenue from your intellectual property, for instance, through licensing or so on, in many countries, you can actually pay a lower tax rate on that revenue.
So it's worth knowing it's worth understanding how your intellectual property even if it's, your know-how, or your copyright is actually, how much of your revenue is directly related to the fact that you have that intellectual property asset. It's something that's, that's worth looking into, because you could find that your tax rates can can be lowered for those. So those are the three main ones: offensive, defensive, and revenues. There are also three other ones that are a little bit more subtle.
The fourth one is perhaps a lever. So using your intellectual property assets as a lever in negotiations. So for example, say you want people around you to use a certain type of software, say you want them to use Linux, for instance, you might contribute to an open source community in order to keep that particular type of code going. So you're saying, "Well we contribute to this, so you contribute as well. So we keep this going, because we quite like using it." So it's not giving you a direct monetary benefit, and it's not pushing anybody else out. It's sort of creating an open innovation environment where people are contributing to your product inadvertently.
You can also have lots of contractual relationships with lots of different companies based on your intellectual property. So you could say, "I have a patent for this product," product A, shall we say, "my partners A, B, and C can use this product A, and I'm not going to charge them anything. But together, we're keeping everybody else out." Or perhaps, I have a patent for product A and my competitor has a patent for product, A+. Then, we might have a cross license between us so that we can both use each other's technology. Again, we agreed to keep everybody else out of the market. So again, you're not directly making money necessarily, you're really using this in negotiations.
Another example that I always try to tell people, the business people, the commercial people in my businesses, you know, if you're responding to an RFP, or request for a request for proposals, let's say you're responding to one of those, and you say, "Right, our price for this service will be 10 units. And that includes a license to our intellectual property." And your competitors as well, "We will only charge you nine units, nine pounds." The person who's given out the RFP might say, "Hang on, if I go with your competitor, I'm still gonna owe you the license fee, aren't I? So actually, maybe it's better if I go with you." You know, so it's sort of, it's just using as a lever, instead of saying, "I own the intellectual property here. I am, legally..." It's the only legal monopoly that exists, right? "I'm legally allowed to stop other people from doing this unless they pay me." So it can really, it can add obligations and nuances to your contractual situations, to your contract. So that's the fourth one: the lever.
The fifth one is adding value to your society, your ecosystem. So for example, it attracts investors. If you have a startup and your exit strategy is to sell. If you also have intellectual property in the area, you have the patents, as well, that will add a massive amount to your to your sale price. There's a company we bought a few years ago now, can't divulge the details, but it was determined that 90% of the sale price was through the intellectual property assets. So the know-how, the various designs they had, the patents as well, not sure they had that many patents, but they had a lot of know-how. Then 10% was down to the hardware and things like that.
So more and more it's actually the biggest value is what's in people's heads. So if you can enshrine that in law as well, by creating an asset, it's quite handy. You can also keep your employees and attract new talent by showing that you're an innovative company if you have published intellectual assets, right? Intellectual property assets like patents, like designs, like academic publications. The more you show that you're really innovating, the more people are motivated to come and join you. So that's that attractive, really, sort of, societal value.
Then the final one is the possibility to enter into ecosystems, right? So if you have intellectual property assets, it often opens doors for you. So I talked about Linux earlier, because that was in my head because there's something a group, an ecosystem called the Open Invention Network, OIN, where all the contributors have undertaken not to sue each other for patent infringement. They pool their patents and their IP that covers the Linux system. The idea is to keep Linux alive, and to keep it open, and so on. There are 150 members or something, and they're all sort of saying, "Right, we keep Linux open. We've got IP around it, but we won't sue each other." If you have the IP, then you open that door to enter that patent pool.
There are lots more like these groups that will look after each other and try to keep a certain type of technology alive. It's also true for standards. I mean, look at 5G, for instance, if you have a patent that uses or covers the 5G standard, you can have entry into a club, which basically demands licence fees from anybody who will use 5G, right? So there was a recent case, for instance, where the 5G group were trying to determine what the license fee should be from car manufacturers for putting 5G into their cars. I'm not sure what the outcome was, or is, or whether it's being appealed. But it's something of the order of $15 per car that's made that, that's 5G enabled. That goes back to the pool of patent owners. So it's really interesting to have these intellectual property assets and to be able to enter those ecosystems that give you benefit to protect your model or to give you other benefits. So those are the main six strategic pillars in intellectual property.
Christina Sjahli: I'm a little bit curious about when you talk about trade secret. If trade secret is an intellectual property, there's got to be some kind of registration out there. What you meant is that when it's a trade secret, it's just not being publicly announce to others like, how?
Cassandra Derham: I know what you mean, it's quite a difficult, sort of, concept to get your head around. Because even the people I work with, they sort of say, "Well, a secret's secret, but once it's out, you suddenly lose it." Right?
Christina Sjahli: Yes, exactly.
Cassandra Derham: It's no longer anything. That is totally true. So in the US, there's the Trade Secrets Act. And in Europe, there's a Trade Secrets Directive. These actually give frameworks for remuneration or for help should you lose your trade secrets. So in an intellectual property department like mine, one of our key tasks is to understand how a trade secret is being protected, to make sure everybody who knows it knows that they know it, and isn't going to share it, and have a need-to-know list as well. So we have to make sure that it's literally under lock and key. It's only in a secure server, only certain people have access to it. So that's the thing is, can we ever prove that a thing was a trade secret, and that it was misappropriated? It's the proof that is really the part of the IP strategy.
Christina Sjahli: So you need to make sure if you do have this trade secret within your company, you have a process within your company to prove it, that this is your trade secret? It's not supposed to be going out there?
Cassandra Derham: Exactly, exactly. In quite a few countries, certainly in the UK, you can call up a judge at any time, in order to block a potential publication of what you consider to be a trade secret. You really need to note it down, know what it is that you consider to be your trade secret, and that everybody who knows it is aware so that they can't inadvertently share it. You just need to process, and you need to show that it was reasonable to assume that it should not be shared unless somebody broke their contract, I guess.
Christina Sjahli: One of your pillars, which is pillars, number five, about adding value to your ecosystem, you mentioned something about know-how, and then that is an intellectual property. Can you give an example?
Cassandra Derham: In a big company, we have processes in place for people to log things that they consider to be ideas and we might log them as know-how. What we say then if something is Amadeus know-how, we need to keep it within Amadeus and not share externally. Right, so it's like a small type of trade secret; that's how we consider it. But it is basically anything that is knowledge that is contained within your company, and that you rely on to be able to do your work, and that if a third party were to use it without your permission, it would damage you potentially, commercially. Then once you have your know-how, how do you protect it? Do you protect it as a secret and therefore you get people to undertake that they will keep it secret within the company? Or do you try to protect it with patents? Or do you plant your flag somehow?
Your know-how can be protected in lots of ways. The main thing is identifying it as yours, putting a ring-fence around it and saying, "This is our know-how. This is what we sell. This is what we know in order to be able to sell something else." That even can include your list of suppliers, which is unique for instance. Like, you know, you could count that as your know-how. Only you know of that source of chemical, with this source of metal, with that source of code. Only you know what your sources are. You might keep those secrets. So your know-how becomes a trade secret. So know-how is really, what do you know? What do you know how to do that maybe others don't?
Christina Sjahli: Sometime, I went to somebody's website, like a service provider, a consultant, they would show you like an infographic with their steps, their process, and then they put a name. And then there is like a ™, I'm assuming it's a trademark then.
Cassandra Derham: So that's interesting. Yeah. So in order to have a trademark, you need to have certain conditions, right. So you need it to be distinctive, but not descriptive, okay. If somebody puts ™ after something, that means that they intend to use it as a way of defining their product, if they put an R in a circle, it means that their trademark is actually registered at a trademark office. Those are slightly different. So one example is KIT KAT, actually. So if you see the packaging of KIT KAT, you see KIT KAT, there's an R in a circle. Then they, what's their tagline, again? "Have a break, have a KIT KAT." Or "Have a break." And what they do is they put a ™ after that, because they haven't registered it with any trademark organization, but they're using it as a way of defining their own product.