Conducting a thorough IP audit of all the intangible assets or intellectual property (IP) that an organisation owns is a time-consuming and often costly business. You want to get it right and make sure that maximum value is received by the organisation when conducting the audit.

So what are the critical success factors? What are the important things to get right?

  • Buy-in of relevant individuals – the IP audit should be initiated by senior management. The people that will be involved in the IP audit must buy into the benefits that will be obtained through doing the IP audit.
  • Focus on the right issues – the results of the IP audit should be more than a simple register of the IP and tangible assets owned by an organisation.
  • The right people – it is critical to have people with practical and commercial experience in conducting IP audits. For example, these are some of the questions that should be asked – What processes or knowledge are critical to your success? Are they unique to your organisation? If so, have you protected them? Often a preliminary IP audit can be done by people within the organisation (in-house counsel or management). Ideally, it should be conducted with the assistance of professional IP auditors. Using attorneys to conduct the IP audit has the added advantage that al results of the IP audit are subject to attorney-client privilege.
  • Focus on all intangible assets – the IP audit should focus on all intangible assets (not just IP). For example, although domain names are not usually considered to be IP, they should be included. Both the new and old – identifying and documenting old IP can be just as important as identifying and documenting new IP.
  • Protecting and sharing of IP – the focus of the IP audit should not be merely on the protection of IP – there could well be circumstances where IP should be shared.
  • Deliverables that can be acted upon – the results or deliverables from the IP audit must be in a form that enable the organisation to form an effective IP strategy that will ultimately lead to the exploitation of the IP to create value for the stakeholders.