What does it mean to talk about intellectual property?
While it’s easy to understand the concept of physical property and ownership, we also tend to navigate the world with the general notion that no one actually owns ideas.
Technically it’s true. However, when it comes to ideas, access and ownership don’t tell the whole story.
Inventions and intellectual property can be secured with a patent, while access to some of the products is provided via licenses.
IP In The World of Business
In the business world, in particular, intellectual property may include a wide variety of “materials” ranging from:
- movie scripts
- internal information classed as trade secrets
Today one of the most significant forms of intellectual property in play is software.
Essentially, if a material can generate a profit, it can rightly be considered intellectual property, but it can be hard to protect. IP becomes a major concern for many organizations, who worry it might be exploited or stolen and thus a detriment to the creators.
Digital Rights Management Solutions
If your business is concerned about protecting its digital assets or is struggling to track what intellectual property it has access to, then it’s time to look into digital rights management tools.
Digital rights management programs allow businesses to carefully regulate how internal information is used, including who can access it, whether it can be emailed or copied, how long it’s accessible for, and whether it can be saved by others.
If you’ve ever borrowed an ebook from the library and it’s disappeared on its due date, then you have at least a basic sense of how this works.
Of course, from a business perspective, digital rights management can be more complicated and fraught, but the principles are similar.
To maximize the value of your organization and the work you do, you need to formalize even the broadest concepts, and that includes data.
Digital rights management is also enormously helpful for businesses trying to track their own subscriptions to different SaaS tools and similar products.
Data As Intellectual Property
One of the many ways modern operations have expanded the concept of intellectual property is by including things like data as a category of intellectual property.
Businesses that have developed their own algorithms for collecting or analyzing data can protect their IP. Data has value all on its own.
In years past, data might have been considered too unformed to be counted as a class of intellectual property, but today’s economy runs on data, making it undeniably property.
Information Rights Management
Due to how important data has become to businesses and the degree of sensitivity attached to this type of information, the digital rights management world actually includes a subcategory known as information rights management.
Information rights management is specifically focused on protecting sensitive data and documents that may be shared with outside organizations or individuals.
Intellectual Property And The Blockchain
Finally, we’ve seen a spike in interest in intellectual property rights recently with the popularity of NFTs – non-fungible tokens or unique art objects that are supported by the blockchain.
Blockchain as a tool for copyright or intellectual property protection is unlikely to be helpful to businesses, as it’s both labor and energy-intensive in practice.
However, never say never as it is likely the blockchain will be used for the most important data and innovations as an additional and final line of defense.
Digital rights management and intellectual property are closely intertwined and of critical importance to today’s businesses.
In order to protect your financial and technical interests, then, it’s vital that you find ways to secure even the most “immaterial” content.
Indeed, it’s the least tangible things that are likely to be the most valuable in today’s marketplace, therefore err on the side of caution when deciding what to share and with whom and what protections to put in place.