Survey reveals threat to IP rights

Investors in IT, telecoms and life sciences companies risk throwing money away because they do not monitor the protection of their intellectual property (IP) rights, research has found.

A survey of over 100 companies, conducted by the London Business School and sponsored by City firm Taylor Joynson Garrett, revealed that half the investors in these fast-growing sectors fail to monitor the protection of their knowledge base.

The survey also revealed a poor approach towards due diligence on IP issues.

Only two thirds of the companies polled said that their investors had undertaken any IP due diligence prior to making their most recent investment. Even where due diligence is undertaken, in almost half the cases it is only done in a “moderate” way.

More worrying is the finding that only just over half of smaller companies have a programme in place to ensure all IP rights produced by their research and development are adequately protected.

Taylor Joynson Garrett partner Gordon Jackson said: “Given the importance of protecting intellectual property to knowledge-based businesses, we were surprised that many companies and investors are not regularly monitoring their IP protection.

Hammond Suddards has helped develop a new insurance policy for companies looking to protect their IP rights.

Working with Lloyd's managing agent Kiln and Big Five accountancy firm Ernst & Young, the firm has created a policy that allows a company to insure its key IP rights against claims, government action and adverse media reporting.

Hammond Suddards insurance partner Ed Stanley, who drafted the policies, said that the arrangement was novel in that the companies' IP rights would be audited to establish their value before the policy was agreed.