World IP Day 2021: Why is Intellectual Property important to innovative organisations?


Claire Wilson, Head of IP Legal Services

Over the past year there has been significant change in the way that organisations worldwide do business. The global pandemic has led us to challenge existing beliefs, work more adaptively and find new ways to collaborate, crossing geographical, technical and behavioural balances.

Intellectual Property title card

It has been a tough year for all businesses but recovery will come quickest to those who embrace the challenge and innovate towards a better future. Creating new technologies and approaches is more important than ever and so is the need to fully protect what has been created.

On 26th April each year, the World Intellectual Property Organization leads celebrations around the globe which focus on the role that intellectual property (IP) plays in encouraging innovation and creativity and also raising awareness of the importance of protecting your IP.

For 2021, the World IP Day will focus on the critical role of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the economy and how they can use IP rights to build a stronger, more competitive and resilient business. While QinetiQ is far from an SME, its success is very much tied to a diverse ecosystem of partners, of which SMEs make up a considerable portion.

Over the next couple of days, QinetiQ will be sharing stories about innovation and IP and the amazing individuals and technology that make up our unique organisation. Firstly, we take a step back and look at what IP actually is and how it can add a real advantage to business.

How unique IP can provide a real business advantage

Companies are increasingly realising that their intangible assets, or intellectual property (IP), is as valuable as their physical assets. Indeed, in some technology areas a company’s competitive advantage may reside substantially in its IP. This is certainly true of QinetiQ, which holds innovation at the heart of its business strategy.

Whether in the form of know-how, confidential information, trade secrets, patents, utility models, trademarks, industrial designs or copyright, it is imperative for knowledge companies like QinetiQ to identify, protect and exploit their IP to underpin their business operations. Once identified, IP can be protected in the form of IP rights (IPR); some will automatically subsist when IP is created or, as appropriate, it can be legally registered.

All of this enables a company to pursue its commercial ambitions. For example, IPR may be used to stop competitors from using a company’s potentially brand-defining technologies, or to only permit the same under licence (optionally for a fee), maintaining competitive advantage for the IPR holder. IP also helps companies, like QinetiQ, win new business by demonstrating inventive capability in specific technology areas to potential customers, collaborators and partners.

Other added benefits of IP and IPR can include providing valuable equity to invest in joint ventures, collaborations and spin-out companies and delivering a source of revenue income through a mortgage, licence or assignment to a third party. It may even offer certain tax advantages (for example, under the UK government Patent Box scheme).

These combined drivers make it imperative for any company that is developing technology, innovating or problem-solving to look carefully at their IP and the potential it may hold.

Want to know more about IP? Claire Wilson, our Head of IP Legal Services joins our latest podcast to speak about the importance of World IP Day and of intellectual property to business. Click to listen on Spotify here or Acast here.