I was honoured to be a Speaker and Moderator at the recently ended IP Gorilla Conference which was held at the Crown Plaza, Trade Centre, Dubai, from 19-20 November 2019.

My panel discussed the topic, “HOW TO EFFECTIVELY MANAGE IP ASSETS FOR BUSINESS GROWTH AND COMPETITIVENESS”, on 19th November 2019 between 3:40 – 4:20 PM

My panel, which was made up of experts with diverse professional backgrounds highly complimented each other in a manner that adequately addressed the topic. On the panel were, Mr. Kapil Midha, a lawyer and Partner, MK Midha & Associates, India; Ms. Ma. Janice Tejano, Director of IP, De La Salle College of Saint Benilde, the Philipines; and Ms. Randa Habib, Senior Scientific and Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Mars GCC.

Ma. Janice provided a background from the point of view of academia with practical examples from her university emphasizing the IP strategy of the University, with particular focus on protection, ownership and commercialization of generated IPRs.

Randa on her part provided the practical aspect of how industries manage their IPRs using the Food Industry as an example. Mindful of protecting generated IPRs to ring fence their rights from potential infringement. To her, staff orientation on IPRs is fundamental to securing and effectively managing industry IPR. Well informed staff will know when and where to divulge sensitive information which may innocently divulge the Company’s key IPRs.

As a lawyer, Kapil was interested in securing and enforcing the IPRs of his clients. To him, analyzing the IPRs portfolio gives a clearer picture of what assets there are to manage and how best to secure and enforce the IPRs.

It was indeed an interesting discussion, particularly, listening to and sharing practical examples of how IPRs are being effectively managed for growth and competiveness.

To effectively manage IPRs of businesses, a business may consider the following four thematic areas namely: IP Generation; IP Protection; IP Commercialization; and IP Enforcement and for clarity, conduct an IP audit.

An IP audit of a business will clearly reveal IPRs generated by the business; which IPRs belonging to third parties, are being used by the business and how the third party IPRs were obtained or acquired. With such background information a company may decide on which IPRs are worth protecting, in what manner and in which jurisdictions for maximum benefits. The next step is to determine how best to commercialize the IPRs for maximum benefit. How should the IPRs be diffused; should the IPRs be closed as in Classic R&D or be open as in Open Source IPRs or in any permutation within the range of closed and open R&D? How prepared is the business to enforce its IPRs or to avoid infringing third party IPRs?

As the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement draws closer, businesses in Africa may need to be more conscious of issues relating to IPR in order to avoid loss of capital through avoidable infringement cases. On the flip side, business alien to the continent may wish to protect their IPRs on the continent to avoid free riding.

To this effect, conducting business due diligence before acquiring IPRs in the form of various technologies, software etc. has become more essential. Hence, we at Anku.Anku At-Law strongly recommend that businesses must consult IPR firms to be provided with business intelligence services with up to date technologies in order to be shielded from potential infringement liabilities.

Effectively managing business IPRs is fundamental to the success of a business. It determines how a business will harness all the benefits of its IPRs and also prevent the loss of capital arising from avoidable infringement litigation.