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


Claire Wilson, Head of IP Legal Services

As the world faces a time of real uncertainty, organisations will need to become more adaptive and innovative in order to survive.

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. For 2020, World IP Day puts innovation – and the IP rights that support it – at the heart of efforts to create a green future as the actions we take today will shape our tomorrow.

Over the next week, 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 look at what IP is and how it can truly 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.

What does innovation and IP look like?

QinetiQ is a company that prides itself on mission-led innovation, solving real-world problems and creating tangible outcomes. Working with and for customers across the defence, security and technology sectors, we look to create new IP each and every day and have been responsible (in current or forerunner companies) in developing world-changing technology such as the Super Twisted Nematic liquid crystal display, satellite navigation systems, hybrid electric drive systems and electromagnetic detection technologies. Find out more about our unique IP past and present in tomorrow’s blog.

Listen to our podcast where Claire Wilson, Head of IP Legal Services speaks about the importance of World IP Day.